The Best Use of Butter: Kouign Amann Pastries

Note: Over the weekend I visited Montreal and thanks to Montreal food blogger Katerine, forgot what it felt like to be hungry. Stay tuned this week for my snapshots from Montreal.



[Photographs: Erin Zimmer]

Calling a pastry "buttery" seems a little redundant, but the Kouign Amann, is like a croissant multiplied by a stick of butter. Originally from the French region of Bretagne (where it actually translates as "butter cake"), it has that delicate layer thing happening inside kind of like babka, topped with a golden crackly sugar shell.


At Patisserie Kouign Amann in the Plateau neighborhood of Montreal, they make warm batches of the namesake pastry all day long. The recipe sounds simple enough: a round of dough with gobs of buttery sugar water on top. But the lady at the register insisted that "people always seem to mess it up at home, which is why they come here."

I don't know what it was about this pastry—the ingredients aren't crazy complex—but I had to take another bite. And another. The pastry sheets inside stay moist while the outside crunch is like the tappable top part of creme brulee. After the jump, take a look at how it's made.



A crew of extremely focused-looking bakers in the back kitchen knead the fluffy, yeasty dough in big round pans.


Then they ladle up a glistening sugary butter juice and smother it on top.


They poke at it some more until it's full of doughy craters and into the oven it goes for about forty minutes. Once done, it gets sliced up like pie behind the glass case next to the quiche and "diet" croissants—not really, but anything seems light compared to this.

Click here for a recipe from David Lebovitz but be forewarned by the patisserie lady, who basically insinuated that unless you're a hunched-over grandma from Bretagne, then let somebody else do it.

Patisserie Kouign Amann

322 Avenue Du Mont-Royal Est, Montréal QC H2T, Canada (map) 514-845-8813