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Kouign-Amann

Kouign-Amann is a crisp, buttery, sweet and delicious treat made with layers of yeasted dough, butter and sugar. No exaggeration, this might be the most delicious pastry I’ve ever tasted.

an overhead shot of several kougin-amann pastries

Have you heard of Kouign-Amann? This French pastry is a real gem. The name comes from the Breton words for cake (kouign) and butter (amann). I mean, seriously, how could that not be heavenly?

Back in the day, Breton bakers would take a bit of unbaked bread dough and layer it with lots of butter and sugar. It was simply formed into a round cake and baked.

That means Kouign-Amann is a so-called “laminated” dough. What’s a laminated dough?

Take a big block of solid butter (yum!) and wrap it with pastry dough. Then roll, fold, roll, fold, creating layers of dough separated by the butter. Croissants, Puff Pastry and Danish pastry are also made with laminated dough.

I’ll show you how to make individual Kouign-Amann as well as the traditional large round cake.

Scroll through the process photos to see how to make Kouign-Amann Dough:

side by side shots of yeasted dough before and after rising.
Make the enriched yeast dough and set it aside to rise.
four photos showing how to make a butter packet for laminating dough
While the dough rises, make the butter packet
four process photos showing how to fold the butter into yeasted dough
1. Pat the dough to a 10″ square. 2. Make four flaps from the sides and set the butter packet in the center. 3. Fold the flaps over the butter 4. Pinch the seems and pat the dough flat.
four process photos showing how to do folds for kougin amann dough
1. Set the dough onto a lightly floured surface. 2. Use the rolling pin to press on the dough before rolling. 3. Fold the dough like a letter. 4. Repeat for a second “turn”.
a photos showing how to layer sugar into kouign amann dough
Do two more turns like the first two, adding a layer of sugar before folding.

How to shape individual Kouign-Amann:

Three photos showing how to roll, cut and shape kouign amann
1. Chill the dough before rolling. 2. Roll to a 12″x 16″ rectangle, sprinkle with sugar and cut into 4″ squares. 3. Pinch the sides of the squares to form the Kouign-Amann and set into the prepared pan.
two photos showing Kouign Amann before and after rising
Set the pastries aside to rise. They won’t double, but should puff and fill the cups.
three photos showing how to cool kougin amann
Remove the Kouign-Amann from the pans immediately or they will stick. Cool upside down.

How to make a Kouign-Amann Cake:

four process photos showing how to shape a kouign-amann cake
1. Roll the chilled dough to a 10″ square. 2. Trim off the corners and fit the dough into the prepared springform pan. Set aside to rise. 3. Bake 45-50 minutes. 4. Immediately release the cake from the pan and cool before serving.

FAQs about Kouign Amann:

Do I have to use European butter to make Kouign-Amann?

I made this recipe using both American and European butter. You will get good results with either type of butter. The European butter is a little easier for laminating since it is less brittle than American butter.

Can I used unsalted butter to make Kouign-Amann?

I use unsalted butter for virtually all of my baking. But for this recipe I recommend using salted butter. The salt balances out the sweetness of the caramelized sugar. If you use unsalted butter I recommend you sprinkle a 1/2 teaspoon of salt over the butter packet before laminating the dough.

How do I store Kouign-Amann?

Kouign-Amann can be kept at room temperature for 1-2 days, but is best the day it is baked.

Can I freeze Kouign-Amann?

Yes, they freeze beautifully.

How do I reheat Kouign-Amann?

After a day at room temperature, or after freezing, the best way to revive the texture of the Kouign-Amann is to warm it gently in a 200°F oven for 5-10 minutes.

Can I use Sourdough Starter to make Kouign-Amann?

Absolutely! Visit this post for a Sourdough Kouign-Amann recipe.

one kouign amann on a black surface
a split kouign amann on a plate showing the buttery layers

If you love classic French pastries (and I know you do), here are a few great recipes you’ll want to try; Caneles de Bordeaux, Marjolaine, Classic Cream Puffs, Chocolate Eclairs, French Apple Tart, Creme Brulee, and airy Chocolate Genoise.

If you love this recipe as much as I do, I’d really appreciate a 5-star review.

a kouign amann pastry on a black surface

Kouign-Amann

Yield: 12 servings
Prep Time: 2 hours
Bake Time: 30 minutes
Rising Time: 3 hours
Total Time: 5 hours 30 minutes

Kouign-Amann is a crisp, buttery, sweet and delicious treat made with layers of yeasted dough, butter and sugar.

Ingredients

Dough

  • 3/4 cup (6 oz, 180ml) warm water
  • 1 packet (2 1/4 teaspoons, 7g) instant dry yeast
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons (3/4 oz, 21g) granulated sugar
  • 2 cups (10 oz, 280g) all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon table salt
  • 2 tablespoons (1 oz, 28g) salted European butter, room temperature

Laminating

  • 1 cup (8 oz, 224g) salted European butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup (8 oz, 224g) granulated sugar

Instructions

Dough

  1. In a measuring cup, mix the water with the yeast and the sugar.
  2. Place the flour and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment or into a large mixing bowl. With the mixer running, toss in the softened butter. Run the mixer on low briefly to distribute the butter. If working by hand, work in the butter with your fingers.
  3. With the mixer running on low, add the liquid all at once and mix until it is mostly absorbed. Switch to the dough hook. If working by hand stir the liquid in until it’s mostly absorbed.
  4. Knead on medium for 5 minutes. The dough should clear the sides of the bowl and cling to the hook. Alternately, knead by hand for 5 minutes until the dough is smooth and supple.
  5. Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled bowl, turning once to coat the dough. Cover the bowl and leave the dough to rise at room temperature until double in size, about 1-1 1/2 hours. Meanwhile, prepare the butter packet.

Butter Packet

  1. Draw an 8" square in the center of a 1/2 sheet size parchment paper. Flip the paper over so the ink is on the back.
  2. Place the butter in the middle of the square. Fold the parchment over the butter. Use a rolling pin or other heavy object (I use the flat side of a meat tenderizer) to flatten the butter to fill the 8"x 8" square. You can lift the paper if it sticks. Trim and rearrange the edges of the butter as needed. Fold the butter into the parchment and place in the refrigerator. The butter should be firm and cool but a little flexible for layering into the dough.

Laminate

  1. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Do not knead out the air. Pat the dough to a 10" square and pull from each of the four sides to form a flap of dough, leaving the center thicker than the flaps. You should end up with a square with four "flaps" coming out from the sides.
  2. Unwrap the butter packet and place it in the middle of the square. Fold the flaps so they overlap and enclose the butter, pinching in the corners as necessary to glue the seams together. You should now have an 8" square of dough with the butter enclosed.
  3. Use the rolling pin to gently press on the square to flatten it. Roll the dough to a 8" x 24" rectangle. Take your time to roll gently and evenly so the butter stays in one layer in the dough.
  4. Orient the dough so the long side of the rectangle is facing you. Brush off any excess flour. Fold the right 1/3 of the dough towards the middle then fold the left 1/3 of dough over enclosing it like a letter. This is the first "turn". At this point if the dough is very tight or the butter is soft, refrigerate for 30 minutes. If the dough is still easy to work and the butter is cold go ahead with the next step.
  5. Orient the dough so the closed edge is on the top side and the open edge is facing you. Roll the dough to an 8" x 24" rectangle. Brush off any excess flour and again fold the dough like a letter. This is the second "turn". Set the dough on a sheet pan, cover with plastic and refrigerate at least 30 minutes.
  6. Remove the dough from the refrigerator. On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough to an 8" x 24" rectangle. Sprinkle 1/3 cup of granulated sugar evenly over the dough. Fold the dough like a letter. At this point if the dough is very tight or the butter is soft, refrigerate for 30 minutes. If the dough is still easy to work and the butter is cold go ahead with the next step.
  7. Remove the dough from the refrigerator. Roll the dough to an 8" x 24" rectangle. Sprinkle 1/3 cup of the granulated sugar evenly over the dough. Fold the dough like a letter. Wrap the dough and place it in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours. I like to leave it overnight and finish making the pastries in the morning.

Assembly

  1. Generously butter a 10” round springform cake pan and line the bottom with a round of parchment OR butter a 6 cup jumbo muffin pan OR a 12 cup standard muffin pan. Dust with sugar to coat. Shake out any excess.
  2. If using a 10” round pan, roll the dough to a 10" square, Trim the corners to form a 10" round and set it into the pan. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons of sugar over the dough. Cover the pan and leave the dough to rise for 1 - 1 1/2 hours. (The dough scraps can be formed into a loose round and baked as a treat for the chef.)
  3. If using a jumbo muffin pan, lightly sprinkle the work surface with granulated sugar and roll the dough to a 15" x 10" rectangle. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons of sugar over the top of the dough and pat it in with your hands. Use a pizza cutter or sharp knife to cut the dough into a 3x2 grid. You will now have six 5" squares.
  4. If using a standard muffin pan, lightly sprinkle the work surface with granulated sugar and roll the dough out to a 16" x 12" rectangle. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons of sugar over the top of the dough and pat it in with your hands. Use a pizza cutter or sharp knife to cut the dough into a 3x4 grid. You will now have twelve 4" squares.
  5. Grasp the 4 sides of a square and bring them together in the center. Set the dough into a muffin cup with the points up (see photo). Repeat with the other squares. Cover the tray and leave it to rise for 1 - 1 1/2 hours. The pastries will not double in size but should come to room temperature and puff up a bit to fill the pan.
  6. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 375°F (350°F for 10" cake). Place a sheet of aluminum foil on the bottom rack of the oven to catch butter and sugar overflow.
  7. Bake the pastries until deeply browned, about 30 minutes for standard muffins, 35 minutes for jumbo muffins and 45-50 minutes for a 10" round. The center of the 10" round should feel quite firm when you press on the top.
  8. As soon as they come out of the oven, flip the pan to release the pastries onto a cooling rack. If you find the muffins in the center cups of the pan are not well browned on the bottom, put them back into the pan and bake for another 5-7 minutes. Allow them to cool completely, upside-down. For the 10" pan, as soon as the cake comes out of the oven run a paring knife around the sides and release the sides of the pan. Cool completely before removing the bottom of the pan and the parchment.

Did you make this recipe?

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a closeup photo showing a cross section of a marjolain cake
Marjolaine, aka Dacquoise
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