My latest Connect Savannah food feature on The Topiary Cake Design (I will post the article this week) reminded me just how much I love to bake. So this week I told myself I would get back into the kitchen and practice what I love.
I am not going to sugar coat it–I have been slacking in the blog/baking/cooking department. The holidays drained me, especially considering how much of an introvert I tend to be. I truly have no excuse considering my Christmas decorations and house have been cleaned since the day after Christmas. Truly, I have just been lazy.
Going back into the kitchen needed to start with a bang. I have been baking since I was young, so an intermediate pastry recipe would be a great challenge.
For those who do not know the difference in pastries verses regular baked goods let me explain. Unlike cakes, breads, or other common baked goods, making a pastry refers to a very specific type of dough or baked item that is created using a sweet dough. For example, when you make a pie crust for a pie, you are making a pastry. Other common pastries include croissants, eclairs, macarons, profiteroles, tart shells, and Kouign Amann. The dough for making a pastry is commonly made with flour, fat, sugar, and water, which you can see is very different than the dough for making a bread. The tricky part in making a proper pastry comes with the type of pastry for which you opt—for example croissants require a process called lamination. Lamination is the folding in of cold butter to create layers. It takes many hours and proper technique to succeed.
You may be asking, what the heck is a Kougin Amann? By far it is one of the most delicious pastries put on this earth. Originating in France, the time consuming bite sized croissant and brioche cross is made with a ton of butter, which is to be expected with a French pastry. The end result of folding cold butter into your dough (laminating), then slicing it, coating it in coarse sugar, and smashing it into muffin tins creates a sweet crunchy flaky palm sized treat. The best part, the technique of using a muffin pan leaves a large hole in the center of the pastry, perfect for filling your Kougin Amann with anything you desire.
My selection was salted caramel. The butter used to create the layers of your Kougin Amann bring saltiness to the pastry, so why not complement the overall flavor of the baked good by amplifying its qualities with a salty-sweet filling.
I will warn you, this recipe is not for a beginner. It takes patience and love to get through the process. I do not want to discourage anyone from trying the recipe, I truly hope you are inspired, even beginners, to try this recipe out. The only way to learn is to try. I could probably fill a dumpster with the amount of baked goods I have thrown out due to trying. You have to start somewhere.
- For the Salted Caramel:
- 1 Cup of Granulated Sugar
- ½ Cup of Heavy Cream, room temperature
- 2 Tablespoons of Unsalted Butter
- 1 Teaspoon of Salt
- 1/4 Cup of Water
- For the Pastry:
- 2½ Tablespoons of Dry Yeast
- 1⅓ Cups of Warm Water, do not exceed 105°F
- 4 Cups of All Purpose Flour
- 2 Teaspoons of Salt
- 1¾ Cups Of Salted Butter, cold
- 1 Cups of Granulated Sugar
- First make your salted caramel.
- In a small saucepan, combine your sugar and water then stir to combine.
- Heat mixture over medium heat, do not stir anymore. Cook it until the mixture has turned a deep amber, approximately 10 minutes.
- Once cooked, turn of the heat of the stove and whisk in your butter, cream, and salt. Stir until the mixture is smooth and fully combined, then remove it from the stove.
- Set the caramel aside, covered, to cool while you make your pastry.
- In your stand mixer, combine your yeast and warm water. Allow yeast to bloom for approximately five minutes.
- Attach your dough hook, then add in your flour and salt. Mix on low until combined and a dough begins to form.
- Turn the stand mixer speed to medium, and mix for five minutes or until dough shapes into a smooth elastic ball.
- Tightly cover the bowl with plastic wrap and allow the dough to rise for twenty minutes.
- While the dough rises, prepare your butter block.
- Shape your butter into one mound, then shape and flatten the butter until it is a rectangle approximately 10x8 inches.
- Cover your butter in plastic wrap and place it back in the fridge to cool until you are ready to use it.
- Turn you risen dough out onto a lightly floured surface.
- Roll out your dough into a 16x10 rectangle. Place your butter block in the center of your dough.
- Fold the exposed edges over your butter as to completely enclose your block of butter. Next, roll the dough into a 18x8 rectangle.
- Fold your dough by thirds, like a letter, to start creating layers.
- Plastic wrap your dough, then place it in the fridge to allow the butter to get cold again. Let the dough rest for 1 hour.
- After the hour, place your dough back onto your floured surface and roll out into an 18x8 rectangle. Fold the dough again like a letter. Place the dough back in the fridge to let it rest for an 1 hour.
- Preheat your oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit and prepare a 12 cup muffin pan by coating it in butter. Set aside the pan aside.
- Roll your chilled dough to a 17x13 rectangle, then slice off 1/2 inch from each end of the rectangle.
- Generously coat both sides of your dough with your 1 cup of granulated sugar. This will create the crunchy outside.
- Slice dough into equal 4x4 inch squares.
- Place each square into the center of each muffin cup.
- Fill each cup with approximately 1 tablespoon of your cooled salted caramel. Fold in the four corners of each square to meet in the center.
- Loosely cover the muffin pan and allow the dough to rise for another 20 minutes.
- Bake your dough for 25-30 minutes on the center rack.
- Once golden brown, remove from the oven to allow them to cool.