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Sourdough Kouign-Amann

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

an overhead shot of several sourdough kougin-amann pastries

Have you ever 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?

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.

Want to make a good thing even better? As we sourdough bakers know, wild yeast does good things for the flavor of any baked good. Kouign-Amann is no exception to that rule.

If you don’t have one, you can learn How to Make a Sourdough Starter. Then I can show you how to Feed and Maintain Sourdough Starter or How to Keep a Small Sourdough Starter.

What if you don’t have a starter ready yet? No problem, you can make this Kouign-Amann recipe using commercial yeast.

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

three side by side photos showing how to mix sourdough kouign amann
Combine the starter with water and some of the flour and set aside for 30-60 minutes. Add the sugar, salt and butter to finish mixing the dough. The dough will take 3-5 hours to ferment.
four photos showing how to make a butter packet for laminating dough
While the dough ferments, make the butter packet
four process photos showing how to fold the butter into sourdough
1. Pat the sourdough 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 sourdough kougin amann
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 sourdough kouign amann
Do two more turns like the first two, adding a layer of sugar before folding.

How to shape individual Sourdough Kouign-Amann:

Three photos showing how to roll, cut and shape sourdough kouign amann
1. Chill the dough overnight. 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 sourdough 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 sourdough kougin amann
Remove the Kouign-Amann from the pans immediately or they will stick. Cool upside down.

How to make a Sourdough Kouign-Amann Cake:

four process photos showing how to shape a sourdough kouign-amann cake
1. Roll the chilled sourdough 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 Sourdough Kouign Amann:

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

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

Can I freeze Sourdough Kouign-Amann?

Yes, they freeze beautifully.

How do I reheat Sourdough Kouign-Amann?

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

Can I use commercial yeast to make Kouign-Amann?

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

a sourdough Kouign Amann on a white plate
a split sourdough 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.

Since you’ve got your starter fed, peruse the entire list of My Best Sourdough Recipes. Have fun!

I know you hate to throw away that sourdough discard. Check out these recipes that use sourdough discard.

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

a sourdough kouign amann on a plate

Sourdough Kouign-Amann

Yield: 12 servings
Prep Time: 2 hours
Bake Time: 25 minutes
Rising Time: 16 hours
Total Time: 18 hours 25 minutes

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

Ingredients

Dough

  • 1 cup (8 oz, 224g) active sourdough starter
  • 1/4 cup (2 oz, 60ml) water, warmed to 110°F
  • 1 1/2 cups (7.5 oz, 210g) all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon table salt
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons (3/4 oz, 21g) granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons (1 oz, 28g) salted European Butter, room temperature

Butter Layer

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

Instructions

Dough

  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer or a large mixing bowl combine the starter with the water and 1/2 cup of the flour. Mix for 30 seconds to combine the ingredients. Cover the bowl and set aside for 30-60 minutes.
  2. With the mixer running on low add the salt, sugar and toss in the softened butter. Switch to the dough hook. Add the remaining cup of flour and knead on medium for 5 minutes. The dough should clear the sides of the bowl and cling to the hook. If working by hand finish adding the flour by hand and knead for 5 minutes.
  1. Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled bowl, turning once to coat the dough. Cover the bowl and set it aside at room temperature. After 30 minutes uncover the bowl, lift one side of the dough over into the middle of the dough. Repeat with the other three sides of the dough then flip the dough over. Cover the bowl and after 30 minutes repeat the procedure. Cover the bowl and after 60 minutes repeat the procedure. Cover the bowl and after 60 minutes repeat the procedure one last time. By now the dough should be lively, elastic and airy. If the dough is still sluggish give it another hour or two at room temperature.
  2. Meanwhile, prepare the butter packet.

Butter Packet

  1. Draw an 8" square in the center 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. Use your hands to pat the dough into a 10" square. Pull from each of the four sides to form a flap of the 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 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 again 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 work surface 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. 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 or up to a day. 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 and trim the corners to make a 10" round. Set it into the pan. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons of sugar over the dough. Cover the pan and leave the dough to rise for 1 1/2-2 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 out to an 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 1/2 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 minutes for standard muffins, 35 minutes for jumbo muffins and 45-50 minutes for a 10" round. When you press on the center of the 10" round it should be quite firm.
  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.

Did you make this recipe?

Please leave a comment on the blog or share a photo on Instagram

Jesse-Gabriel

Monday 9th of November 2020

So so gut, vielen Dank, das sie das Rezept auch in Gramm Angaben teilen! Viele Grüße sendet, Jesse-Gabriel aus Berlin

Lisa Henson

Saturday 7th of November 2020

Please let us know how to say it. No sense making it if you can’t tell people what it is! They have it at my local bakery so I know it is not pronounced AT ALL how it is spelled.

Eileen Gray

Saturday 7th of November 2020

Certainly folks can google to see how to pronounce it. I say it as "queen a mahn".

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