Kouign Amann, an easier and faster recipe with step-by-step photo instructions.

by Irvin on March 11, 2014 · 68 comments

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The kouign amann, a flaky buttery caramelized sugar filled pastry, is easy to make if you follow my step-by-step photo instructions!

Kouign Amann, an easier and faster recipe. Photo and recipe by Irvin Lin of Eat the Love. www.eatthelove.com

I was in New York the first time I took a bite of a kouign amann, a yeasted buttery flakey caramelized sugar filled pastry who’s origin came from the Brittany region of France. I had flown into the city for a few days as a quick layover before I headed up to Pennsylvania for the Big Summer Potluck, one of my favorite food blogging events. While hanging out with fellow East coast food bloggers at the Potluck, I asked them for suggestions of places to eat and things to check out while in New York. Of course, the laundry list of “must have” food items was immense (note to self, never ask food bloggers for restaurant suggestions, you’ll get an immense list and you’ll never be able to get to all of it). But the one item that kept on being mentioned by everyone was Dominique Ansel’s kouign amann. Otherwise known as the DKA (Dominique’s Kouign Amann) it was the it pastry to try at the time, until it ended up being eclipsed by his now even more famous creation, the Cronut®. (Jump directly to the recipe.)

Kouign Amann in a pan. Photo and recipe by Irvin Lin of Eat the Love. www.eatthelove.com

Once I was back in the city after the blogging event, I headed over to meet my friend Gail of One Tough Cookie at Dominique Ansel. I adore that woman but we had actually never met in person. Gail turned out to be even more fabulous in real life that I imagined and we caught up talking person-to-person chatting about baking, about food blogging and about which food blogger’s online and real life personalities were the same and which were vastly different. All the while, we nibbled on various different pastries, including the famed DKA. Turns out the pastry that literally translates to “buttery cake” lived up to it’s hype.

The Kouign Amann pastry, cooling on a rack. Photo and recipe by Irvin Lin of Eat the Love. www.eatthelove.com

Of course, back in San Francisco I started to see kouign amanns popping up here and there. But it wasn’t until I took my laminated dough pastry class at the San Francisco Cooking School that I made one for myself. Of the three different doughs that we worked on in the class (croissant dough, puff pastry dough, and kouign amann dough) it was by far the easiest. But in the back of my head, I knew that I wanted to make it even easier at home. With the confidence and skill set that I got from the class and a little help from the cookbook The Modern Baker by Nick Malgieri, I was able to come up with a recipe for the kouign amann that pretty much anyone could make. even if the idea of laminated dough scares you. If you can make a pie crust, you can make my kouign amann!

If you want to go the more traditional route with making the kouign amann, check out some of these other recipes for kouign amanns from around the web:
David Lebovitz’ Kouign Amann Recipe
The Kitchn’s How to Make Kouign Amann at Home
Use Real Butter’s Kouign Amann Pastry Recipe
Desserts First Kouign Amann with Praline Noisette
Joe Pastry’s Kouign Amann recipe

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{ 68 comments… read them below or add one }

Belinda @zomppa March 11, 2014 at 6:20 am

These are stunning and probably completely irresistible. When are you opening up your bake shop??

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Irvin March 11, 2014 at 11:27 am

Ha! Never. Too much work!

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Shikha @ Shikha la mode March 11, 2014 at 10:27 am

I have that book! I got in the blogger cookbook swap a few weeks ago and it’s fabulous – I made a babka from it and it was so good. I remember seeing this recipe in the book – how/did you adapt it?

I’m going to France this year too and I’m about to stuff my face with croissants and kouign amans.

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Irvin March 11, 2014 at 11:27 am

The recipe technique of using the food processor and rolling the dough is actually adapted from his croissant recipe. The kouign amann recipe in the book produces more of a cake and not a flaky pastry, which is what most people are more familiar with (and what I was taught in the laminated dough class).

I’m totally jealous you’re going to France! How awesome. I’ve never been!

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Katrina @ WVS March 11, 2014 at 11:12 am

You are so talented! I absolutely love the look of these :)

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gretchen | kumquat March 11, 2014 at 11:41 am

these are beautiful… love the recipe and the step by step is priceless!

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Annalise @ Completely Delicious March 11, 2014 at 6:52 pm

There’s a local bakery in SLC that is famous for its kouign amann, and for good reason. I’ve always wanted to attempt it on my own, but have never given it a try because of how labor intensive laminated dough can be. So, I’m extremely excited about this version, and love all of your ingenuity! Totally jealous of that pastry class you took, by the way.

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The Suzzzz March 13, 2014 at 9:13 am

Annalise, are you talking about Gourmandise? I love that place.

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Heidi @foodiecrush March 21, 2014 at 8:50 am

The bakery is Les Madeleines and was written up in Food & Wine for their kouign amanns. They are to die for. But I am totally rolling up my sleeves and trying this! Annalise, we need a baking day!

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Nicole Pyne October 23, 2014 at 3:30 pm

They are amazing!!!!!

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Gail March 11, 2014 at 7:03 pm

You know what, Irvin? I can’t look at a Kouign Amann w/o thinking of you.
What a GORGEOUS recipe!
I love laminated doughs….I don’t get to make them nearly as often as I’d like.
TOTALLY filing this one on the top of my ‘to make’ list.
xoxo

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Irvin March 18, 2014 at 1:15 am

Ha! I LOVE that Gail! One of these days I want to bake with you…

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Debbie D March 12, 2014 at 6:06 am

Laminated doughs have scared me to death! Everything else I can make just fine. Have wanted to take a laminated dough class so someone could walk me through it the first time. Your blog and fabulous pictures have done just that! I LOVE Kouign Amann. I swear it is an edible form of crack! I think I may be trying this, this weekend. Thank you so much!!!

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Kathleen March 12, 2014 at 10:35 am

In the last month I have made two attempts at KA with so-so results…here’s hoping with your method the third time is the charm!

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Irvin March 18, 2014 at 1:35 am

Let me know how this method turns out for you, compared to the other time. I’m curious to see how it compares…

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Baking Outside the Box March 13, 2014 at 9:10 am

I have always wanted to try making these! The bakery downtown sells them for a fortune. I would love to serve them up in my own kitchen. Thanks so much.

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The Suzzzz March 13, 2014 at 9:12 am

I’ve never had much luck with laminated pastry but I’m going to try this recipe when I have time either this weekend or next., whenever I can borrow my sister’s food processor. I just hope I can get it to rise.

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Karen @ The Food Charlatan March 13, 2014 at 3:39 pm

What an amazing and thorough tutorial!! Thanks Irvin! They are beautiful.

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Kathy - Panini Happy March 13, 2014 at 4:22 pm

I would love to bite into one of these right now — they look incredible, Irvin!

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nicole plue March 13, 2014 at 5:15 pm

Lin. Malgieri. Plue: I like it! They look delicious!

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Irvin March 18, 2014 at 1:34 am

Thanks Nicole! I had a blast in your class and it was SO incredibly informative. Thanks for stopping by my blog!

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Jennifer Hodge March 14, 2014 at 6:01 am

Wow! I just found your site, I love it. Its beautiful. What type of camera do you use? And what would you recommend to a newbie? Thanks so much.

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Irvin March 18, 2014 at 1:21 am

I shoot on a Canon 5DMkII but it’s probably overkill for a newbie. I’d recommend an entry level dSLR camera like a Canon Rebel T3i for someone just starting out. But to be honest, you can take great photos with nearly any camera nowadays, even an iPhone or Android. I think it’s more about paying attention to the styling of the food and the light more than the equipment that makes a great photograph. I’ve always said that and most professional photographers agree.

After all, you don’t need a fancy stove or oven to make fabulous food. Same goes for photos!

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dina March 14, 2014 at 6:57 am

they look wonderful!

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Lillian @ sweets by sillianah March 14, 2014 at 12:08 pm

This is amazing, Irvin! A few blogger friends and I got together this past summer to learn how to make KA from a friend who works in a bakery and they taste so much better than the DKA (shhh!). But the method seemed much more complicated – you make the KA look so do-able! The step-by-step tutorial/photos really help, maybe we’ll attempt it again using your method. The cupcake pans are genius – my friend went out and bought pastry rings b/c she wanted to make KA at home… I’m glad I waited! lol ;)

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Nina Russell March 14, 2014 at 9:01 pm

Thanks for a wonderful tutorial. I can even get all the recipe ingredients in Australia, which I must say is very hard when trying to follow an American recipe.
Thanks again.

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Irvin March 18, 2014 at 1:21 am

You’re most welcome!

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Alicia March 15, 2014 at 10:09 am

Must eat now! That looks so fun to make and delicious. This looks like the kind of recipe that once you get the hang of it could really take the stress out of your day.

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Irvin March 18, 2014 at 1:22 am

I have to say, after taking that laminated dough class, I can totally see why my friend Krista (who is a food stylist) told me that laminated dough is like a zen project for her. Pounding the butter and rolling out the dough really works out the stress and puts you in a great mood. Well, it did for me at least!

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Faye March 15, 2014 at 11:21 am

Totally scared, but I’m going to try it!!! Hope they turn out half as gorgeous as yours!

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Irvin March 18, 2014 at 1:23 am

Let me know how it turns out!

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Huma March 16, 2014 at 4:03 am

Thanks for sharing.bookmarking it.
Can I substitute instant yeast for dry?

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Irvin March 18, 2014 at 1:25 am

You should be able to but I’ve not tested the recipe with instant, so I can’t guarantee it. Instant yeast is actually what we used in the laminated dough class and it came out great going the traditional route. Try it with the instant yeast and let me know!

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Aimee @ Simple Bites March 17, 2014 at 6:04 am

Incredible tutorial!! I’m confident the home baker could make these. Gorgeous, Irvin!

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Wow March 17, 2014 at 9:01 am

In your “trim the edges of the rectangle by a 1/2 inch on all sides with a sharp knife” step, have you ever tried using a pizza cutter (wheel) for this? I find it much easier for cutting pastry. You can’t stretch the dough or saw at it. It’s also awesome for cutting lattice pie crusts.

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Irvin March 18, 2014 at 1:33 am

I asked that question to Chef Nicole Plue actually and she said no, but I have totally seen bakeries use pizza cutters to make their croissants so I’m going to say yes. In fact high volume bakeries have those awesome contraptions which are basically multiple pizza cutters attached together so you can cut 6 parallel lines in a row.

The only caveat is that your pizza cutter should be sharp. If you have a dull pizza cutter, then it will crush the layers together instead of cutting the layers. One of the problems is the average baker (if they even have a pizza cutter) probably wouldn’t bother to get the wheel sharpened. But if you’ve had good luck with yours, then it’s probably pretty sharp and I say go for it!

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Alice March 18, 2014 at 7:19 am

I’ve been through a laminated dough course at school, but I’m yet to try the Kouign Amann. Your method has totally got me inspired. Those beautiful layers of both sugar encrusted dough and butter short crumbs have got to be worth mastering!

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Michele March 18, 2014 at 5:44 pm

Where have you been all my life, you just made this kind of dough so approachable!

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Gerry @ Foodness Gracious March 21, 2014 at 8:55 am

Fantastic! I’ve tried these and love the flaky, chewy, crispiness. You make me want to put on my pastry boots now and get busy in the kitchen :)

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Faith April 22, 2014 at 10:58 am

Hi Irvin, this is probably a silly question. Just wanted to check the “well-floured clean surface” is referring to all-purpose flour or bread flour? I’d really love to try this recipe out! :)

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Irvin April 22, 2014 at 2:50 pm

Good question! I use all-purpose but I don’t think it’ll make much difference if you use it or bread flour. But I went ahead and updated the recipe above to clarify!

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Faith April 22, 2014 at 4:35 pm

This is awesome, thanks! I’m working on it now.. will let you know if it’s successful for me! :)

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Faith April 22, 2014 at 6:05 pm

Hi Irvin, it was successful and it tastes really good! Thanks for sharing the recipe and my craving for Kouign-Amann is now satisfied! :)

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Irvin April 23, 2014 at 3:23 pm

Yay! I’m glad you liked it and they turned out! Thanks so much.

cynthia May 1, 2014 at 7:06 am

Oh my Heavens!! I wish I had come across your recipe yesterday before I tried..and I mean “tried” the more traditional recipe which took me literally all day and with questionable results. They did not glean ohs and ahhs. As soon as I get over the trauma of this experience, I will definitely try again with your gorgeous and user friendly recipe!!

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Irvin May 3, 2014 at 2:33 am

Let me know if you do attempt it again and how it turns out for you! I love making kouign amann’s the more traiditional method but this short cut method takes half the time and I think the results are (nearly) as good!

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Gabe May 4, 2014 at 2:14 pm

Hi,
Nice article.
Those are “Kouignette” , little kouign amann. The cake is actually the size of a plate.
Is it getting popular among americans or it’s still only known to “baking experts” or food travelers?

thanks

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Irvin May 5, 2014 at 1:22 pm

Hi Gabe, that’s so funny! I have actually never heard the term Kouignette before. All the Kouign Amanns I’ve found here in the US at bakeries are the smaller type that I made. The large plate size cakes you mention I’ve only come across on the internet but never in a bakery here.

I wonder if its a case of American mistaken identity or something (ie. American bakeries are just taking the name Kouign Amann and using it for Kouignette because they like the name Kouign Amann better).

I know that I’m seeing them more and more in bakeries here in the US. They aren’t as popular as cupcakes or croissants, but most upscale French inspired bakeries that I’ve visited seem to have them. There’s even a few regular coffee shops and cafes here in San Francisco that I’ve seen them in. They don’t make them in-house of course, buying them from other bakeries, but they must be popular enough to stock and sell them!

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Gabe May 5, 2014 at 2:27 pm

Hey Irvin,

The name kouignette is unformal. Actually, growing up in the 90ies, I can’t recall having “kouignette”, you would go to a bakery and get a slice of the big cake (square shaped).
I guess the kouignettes generalized, especially in Paris, as the demand grew, it was prolly more convenient for customers and bakers than the big cake. So I’m not sure if the term even existed while it arrived in the States. There is a subtle nuance though, I found that the heart of the big cake is softer than the kouignettes. Also,The crust is smoother.
Thank you for the recipe!

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Klaus Hornell May 21, 2014 at 10:15 am

The first time I had Kouign Amman was about 2 months ago while visiting my parents in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. While not a huge city, Pittsburgh does boast a fabulous French bakery opened by a native of Bretagne. After returning to Los Angeles, I embarked on a search to find this delicacy. Living in the San Gabriel Valley in Los Angeles county, bakeries offering true French fare are few and far between. I am so thrilled to find your posted recipe and particularly the pictures. They will be by my side as I attempt to create this wonderful pastry. Wish me luck

Klaus

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Pat May 24, 2014 at 12:54 pm

I have tried making these in the past and it was a huge mess. Butter and sugar went all over the bottom of the oven, which sent out billowing smoke. I saved a few that I continued to bake in a toaster oven, which severely burnt the tops. However, the taste was incredible. This recipe used a butter block instead of your method. I cannot wait to try your process with the food processor instead! Thanks for a viable alternative!

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Irvin May 27, 2014 at 12:43 pm

Let me know if you make them this way and how they turn out! One thing I might suggest is whatever method you use, you might want to place the muffin pan on a rimmed baking tray when you bake them. That way anything that spills out over the muffin pan, will fall onto the baking tray and not the oven bottom. I’ve even been known to line my baking tray with aluminum foil. That way if there is any spill, I can just toss the foil and not even have to clean the pan!

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Pat May 27, 2014 at 4:04 pm

Thanks Irvin,
YES SUCCESS! Something so simple as a tray under the muffin tins. They tasted wonderful. Also, I made 2 batches. One was the regular size muffins and the other, I made 24 muffins in a mini muffin tin. I wasn’t sure how to long to bake them, so I started with 20 minutes and kept adding 5-minute increments. It was about 30 minutes in the end. I am going to try a savory version next. Something like spinach or kale and feta. Thanks so much for such a wonderful recipe to add to my repertoire!
Pat

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Elise May 26, 2014 at 1:59 pm

Thank you for the recipe!!! I planned and planned to make kouign amann … but it’s too labor intensive. So I found your recipe a few days ago.. .and I am eating one right now. Delicious.

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Irvin July 14, 2014 at 9:56 am

Excellent! I’m so glad you found it delicious!

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Lyndsay // Coco Cake Land June 3, 2014 at 10:56 am

eeks! love the step by step photos – this totally seems do-able, and yours turned out soooo delicious looking! thank you for sharing this insanity!! xo

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Mimi June 28, 2014 at 8:23 pm

I have to say. When I first saw the recipe instructions for various ways to make a Kouign Amann, I was MORE than intimidated – not only about working with yeast (which is temperamental), but also the TIME involved in this. But I did it today (6/28/14), and I just wanted to thank you for the step-by-step instructions! I made a few flubs along the way, but the end result was a flaky on top, buttery soft in-the- middle roll, with just the right amount of crunch and chewiness. Thanks, again. Now, I have gotten over my fear of working with layered pastries and laminated dough! Kudos! ;-)

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Irvin July 14, 2014 at 9:55 am

Yay! I’m so glad. I think my method is easier than a lot of other recipes out there, especially with the use of the food processor. I’m glad you got over your fear of laminated dough and yeast! Whoo hoo!

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Kirbie July 14, 2014 at 9:46 am

I’m obsessed with kouign amann after having it in NYC at Dominique Ansel’s~ I tried so many other versions and found it disappointing. If you are in SF though, b patisserie makes one that is equally as good as DA’s version. I can’t wait to try out your recipe.

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Irvin July 14, 2014 at 9:54 am

I’ve had Dominique Ansel’s KA in NY and you’re right, it’s fabulous. And yes, the b patisserie version is awesome as well. My version is a slight “shortcut” version and won’t yield as flaky a version as b patisserie, but there’s something really satisfying about eating a homemade one, and I think my version is great in a different way. Let me know if you try it and what you think!

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honolulubaker July 23, 2014 at 3:58 pm

Trying to make this today…after having one from Thomas Kellar’s Bouchon Bakery, we are hooked!…
The recipe says prepared muffin tin….what preparation are we supposed to do…sorry I’m very literal and from the review, looks like this works…so want to find out what I need to do.
Butter? Sugar?
Thank you!

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honolulubaker July 23, 2014 at 4:37 pm

Please disregard my previous comment….found it..I’m so excited to make it…so it’s in the fridge..and then I saw “spry muffin tin”…thank you

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Chef Dan July 28, 2014 at 5:49 pm

Brilliant idea adapting the process of a quick puff pastry to the yeasted version for kouign amann. I already started a batch using the ChefSteps recipe today (to be finished tomorrow) but I may try this one as well some time. Looks to be a lot less labor-intensive, so if the results are almost as good, why not?

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Janice Leiser September 13, 2014 at 11:29 am

Hi Irvin

I just got back from Brittany where I sampled several Kouign Amann and am excited to try your recipe. Just been home two days and already checking out recipes. I made David L’s recipe several years ago and it was fabulous. At the Saturday market in Rennes I saw lots of Kougin Amann but was particularly interested in the little ones, which I should add were yummy.

Do you use a standard size muffin tin with straight sides? I’ll be checking your blog out since I live in the east bay. Any suggestions where to buy Kougin Amann in SF or Oakland area? Thanks!

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Irvin September 13, 2014 at 11:46 am

Hi Janice,

I do use a regular standard size muffin tin. Just be sure to turn them out of the muffin tin RIGHT AWAY because if you let them sit in the tin, even for a few minutes, they will cool and stick and are HUGE pain to get out!

As for local San Francisco Kouign Amanns I’m partial to B Patisserie’s. They are located on California at Divisadero. You can also get them at Four Barrel Coffee in the Mission as well as other coffee shops around the city. http://bpatisserie.com/

I also like Starter Bakery’s KA but they don’t have a stand alone bakery shop, they only sell at various farmers markets and coffee shops. I think they appear at the Grand Lake, Temescal and Lake Merrit farmers market as well as coffee shops that carry their baked goods. You can hit their website for locations (click on the blue dots on their google map to find out shops that carry them). http://starterbakery.com/contact/

Hope this helps!

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Anne September 27, 2014 at 9:26 am

Could you stuff these with an apple slice and some salted caramel inside, or would that ruin the pastry somehow?

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Irvin September 28, 2014 at 12:29 pm

I think that sounds delicious! I think you can try it, though I’m not sure if the apple slice might be too big. You might want to opt for big apple chunks instead.

That said, I’d pick a more firm baking apple like a Granny Smith or Jonagold instead of one that will fall apart like a Gala, which are more suited for applesauce.

If you do make it, let me know how they turn out! I’m curious and it sounds like a great combination.

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Anne September 28, 2014 at 1:04 pm

Well, they just came out of the oven about an hour ago and they are incredibly delicious! I’ve never made laminated pastry before but your recipe and instructions were great and that part came out more or less beautifully.

For the caramel apples, you are absolutely right, the slices were too big and so my kouign amanns weren’t very pretty because I was reluctant to handle the dough very much to get them into a pretty shape around the sort of oblong slices. Also I found that the caramel oozed out of the sides, sunk to the bottom and made them stick to the pan, even with good cooking spray. Many of the bottoms tore when I tried to take them out of the pan. Possibly also the caramel was too moist and it messed up the pastry?

Basically I had pre-cooked the apple slices in a Cointreau and salted caramel sauce in a skillet on the stove. (I used a Rambour Franc, which I thought fitting as a French variety and also neat as it’s apparently one of the oldest known apples dating to around 1535!) Next time I would definitely use smaller bits of apple to make sure the caramel stays put, but they were delicious even if I did have to serve them upside-down!

I stuffed others with almond paste and they came out better.

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