This sweet and salty pastry will delight consumers. The kouing aman is an easy addition to product lines with ingredients and make-up similar to croissants.
The kouing aman, a specialty pastry that originated in 1865 in northwestern France, is a perfect fit for the national obsession with sweetness, saltiness and caramel. The name kouing aman, also spelled kouign-amann, comes from the Breton dialect of the Celtic language and translates as butter cake. Anyone who has tasted one will clearly know how it got its name. Kouing aman is essentially an extension of the croissant.
All of the same basic croissant techniques are used, however, differences in the formulas change the kouing aman process. A typical kouing aman formula has double the roll-in butter of the typical croissant and about 10 times the sugar.
Dough composition and mixing
Bread flour with a protein content of about 11.5 percent should be used to create enough strength to form the pastry. If making by hand, 25 percent of the flour should be pastry flour to make the dough more extensible. Two kouing aman final dough ingredients are used in lower levels than in the typical croissant: water and sugar. The dough for kouing aman needs to be stiffer (55 percent based on flour weight) and water is used in conjunction with milk powder. All of the other ingredients are increased: salt (3 percent flour weight), butter (10 percent flour weight) and yeast (2 percent flour weight). Kouing aman benefits from the use of a preferment because it has a quick processing time. In order to add some flavor and not too much strength, prefermented dough is used at 15 percent of the flour weight. The roll-in for kouing aman is salted butter at 50 percent of the dough weight and 40 percent sugar.
The final dough requires minimal mixing. With the dough hook, mix all of the ingredients for three to four minutes or until incorporated. Do not develop the dough because it will gain strength during the first fermentation and lamination; it is essential to have an extensible dough for lamination. The ideal final dough temperature is 74°F (24°C), and after mixing, ferment the dough for one hour in the refrigerator.
Lamination and make-up
The basic techniques for lamination are used; however, the butter block is thicker than typical for croissants and the second and third folds have the addition of sugar. It is important to use soft and pliable butter, yet not so soft that it will be absorbed into the dough. The first single fold is done the same way as for a croissant. If using a dough sheeter, the second fold should be done right away; if processing by hand, allow the dough to rest 30 minutes in the refrigerator. Once the dough is sheeted for the second fold, apply one-third of the lamination sugar over the surface of the dough. Then, give the dough a single fold and place in the freezer for 30 minutes. The third fold is done exactly the same as the second. Place the dough in the freezer for 30 minutes. Allowing the dough to relax in the refrigerator or for a longer period of time may cause the sugar to become liquid, which will hinder makeup.
After giving the dough three single folds, it is ready to be sheeted, divided and shaped. Brush the pan cavities with salted butter and coat with the remaining roll-in sugar. Sheet the dough to 15 ins. wide and down to 4.5 mm thick. Cut 5-in. by 5-in. squares, and fold the four corners of the squares in towards the center. Next, place the folded pastries into the pan to proof. Do not egg wash.
Proofing and baking
Proof for 90 minutes to two hours at 80°F and 65 percent relative humidity. Kouing aman bakes at a lower temperature and for a longer time than croissants because its dough is thicker and has more sugar. When baking in a rack convection oven, a good starting point is 350°F for 20 to 25 minutes. When completely baked, the pastries should be a dark brown color. Turn them out of the pans within a few minutes after being removed from the oven.
Kouing aman is a pastry with a sort of cult following. With just a few (significant) changes in the ratio of croissant ingredients and process, you can achieve something extraordinarily special. Those who know kouing aman find it addictive with its unique textural differences between the crust and the crumb and the richness in flavor from the slightly salty, buttery and caramel flavors. It is surprising this pastry is not more common. Once customers discover it, they will keep demanding it.
|Yeast (dry instant)||pinch||1 g||0.6|
|Salt||1 tsp||3 g||2|
|Total appr. wt.||8.9||250 g||166.6|
Method: Mix all ingredients until well incorporated. Desired dough temperature is 70°F (21°C). Allow the dough to ferment for two hours at room temperature (70°F/21°C). Refrigerate at least three hours or up to 18 hours.
*Note: This formula makes double the required amount.
|Yeast (dry instant)||0.5||16 g||2|
|Milk powder||1.4||37 g||4.75|
|Butter, unsalted||2.75||78 g||10|
|Prefermented dough||4.1||117 g||15|
|Total appr. wt.||3||4.9||1.5 kg||192.65|
Method: Mix all ingredients until incorporated. The desired dough temperature is 73°F to 76°F (23°C to 25°C). Ferment for one hour at 40°F (5°C).
|Butter, salted||1||10.4||750 g||50|
|Total appr. wt.||2||15.5||1.35 kg||90|
*Butter and sugar for roll-in are a percentage of the total final dough weight.
Assembly: Laminate and fold the dough according to the instructions in the article. Before beginning the sheeting and make-up, brush the pan cavities with salted butter and dust with sugar. Next, sheet the dough to 15 ins. wide and down to 4.5 mm thick. Cut into 24 5-in. by 5-in. squares, and fold the four corners of the squares in towards the center. Next, place in the pan to proof. Do not egg wash. Proof at 80°F (27°C) at 65 percent relative humidity for 90 minutes to two hours. Bake at 350°F (177°C) in a convection oven for 20 to 25 minutes with one second of steam.
Brian Wood is the founder of Baking and Pastry Solutions, a company focused on assisting baking and pastry operations with product development, employee training and more. To learn more, visit tourrier.com or email email@example.com. Brian would like to thank the San Francisco Baking Institute (SFBI) for the use of its facility for the photo shoot for this article. All photos are by Frank Wing.
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