Kouign amann, the best of Brittany baking

Kouign-amann from Brittany, is a speciality in the town of Douarnenez in Finistère originating from the 19th century but now eaten all over the world. Made with a layer of butter sealed into the sweet pastry dough and rolled and re-rolled several times. It’s baked slowly until it puffs up and the sugar caramelises. Less known than the croissant but just as good it’s about time this scrumptious delight made its way into British tea parties.

Ingredients (for 12 pastries)

300g strong plain flour

5g fast-action yeast

1 tsp salt

200ml warm water

25g unsalted butter, melted

250g unsalted butter

100g caster sugar

Step 1

Put the flour into the bowl of a freestanding mixer fitted with a dough hook. Add the yeast to one side of the bowl and the salt to the other. Add the melted butter & water then mix on a slow speed for two minutes, then on a medium speed for six minutes.

Step 2

Tip the dough onto a lightly floured work surface & begin to shape into a ball. Once done place in a lightly oiled bowl. Cover with cling film & set aside to rise for one hour.

Step 3

Place the butter between two baking sheets & hammer with a rolling pin, then roll out to a 14cm/5½in square. Put this square back in the fridge to keep it chilled.

Step 4

Now, on a lightly floured surface, roll out your dough to a 20cm/8in square. Place the butter in the centre of the dough diagonally, so that each side of butter faces a corner of the dough. Fold the corners of the dough over the butter to enclose like an envelope.

Step 5

Roll the dough into a 45x15cm/18x6in rectangle. Fold the bottom third of dough up over the middle, then fold the top third of the dough over. You will now have a sandwich of three layers of butter and three layers of dough. Wrap in cling film and place in the fridge for 30 minutes. This completes one turn.

Step 6

Repeat this process twice more, so you have completed a total of three turns. You must chill the dough for 30 minute each time you do this.

Step 7

Roll the dough into a rectangle as before. Sprinkle the dough with the sugar & fold into thirds again. Working quickly, roll the dough into a large 40x30cm/16x12in rectangle. Sprinkle the dough with sugar & cut the dough into 12 squares.

Step 8

Grease a muffin tin with oil. Carefully collect the dough squares up by their four corners & place in the tin. Pull the corners towards the centre of the muffin tin, so that it gathers up like a four-leaf clover. Sprinkle with the sugar and leave to rise, covered with a clean tea towel, for 30 minutes until slightly puffed up.

Step 9

Preheat oven to 220C/200C(fan)/425F/Gas 7. Bake for 30-40 minutes, or until golden-brown. If the pastry is starting to brown too early, cover with foil. Remove from the oven & leave to cool for a couple of minutes before turning out onto a wire rack.