I made kouign-amann. It feels more honest to say I attempted to make kouign-amann or even I made something a lot like kouign-amann or, perhaps most accurately, I really messed up making kouign-amann. However, I also think it’s unfair to myself (and anyone making it for the first time) to downplay the challenge of turning a bunch of butter, flour, water, sugar, and yeast into a pile of sweet, melt-in-your-mouth flakes of delicious pastryness.
I used the Bon Appetit recipe. I read it through a few times and wrote it down (to keep my laptop out of the danger zone). I don’t like how they presented the recipe / ingredients list–though I do like how it is divided into sections.
It takes -forever-. I anti-recommend this recipe if for no other reason than it takes forever. The dough is also, in my experience, super dry. It was basically a total disaster.
To start off, the kouign-amann was underdone. This was the smallest of the problems.
When working on laminating the dough–when trying to turn it into something with nice, flaky layers–it turned into a mess.
When making kouign-amann–or most laminated things–you make a big rectangle of butter. This is quite fulfilling because you get to bash a one-pound pile of butter into a one-pound block of butter.
You then wrap this in dough, like your covering a textbook or wrapping a present. Most descriptions talk about this as though you’re folding an envelope around a big letter made of butter.
You then roll this butter-dough mix and fold it over on itself a bunch of times. This should create those aforementioned layers. If you’re me, on this particular day, when you roll out the dough, you mess it up. Rather than layers, I ended up with an amalgamation of butter and dough, which functions more like a bunch of break apart pieces.
In summary, it definitely didn’t work.
I decided to try Martha’s recipe next. This, it turns out, was only a slightly better idea than the Bon Apetit one, in as much as it took about six hours, rather than overnight.
The dough was dry again. When trying to make the BA recipe, I ended up overworking the dough, in hopes that it would eventually come together into the right texture (like my favorite cinnamon roll recipe does). Instead, it just ended up overworked and chewy. I tried to head this off with Martha’s recipe, by NOT overworking the dough. However, it didn’t hold together very well, and I ended up kind of sticking it together with pressure and little bits of water when rolling it out.
It was -really- dry. I talked with a former pastry chef afterwards for advice, who told me that the air was too humid, and I needed to add more water to the dough.
I had the same problem I did last time, and ended up with butter mottled dough rather than delicious, flaky layers. I also think it didn’t rise enough (did the dryness cause this?).
In summary, kouign-amann takes one and two were a total disaster. Stay tuned for take three.