There are some cookbooks so beautiful and delicious that you return to them over and over again, such is the case with Mimi Thorrison's first book A Kitchen in France. I find myself leafing through the pages when I dream of escaping back to France and of course to get inspired. In the latest edition of 'Cook the Book' we are making her recipe for Kouign Amann (pronounced, queen a-mahn), a decadent, buttery cake from the Brittany region of France. While the name might sound intimidating, it is basically yeasted dough that gets folded into layers of butter and sugar with a healthy dose sprinkled on top. When it comes out of the oven (smelling absolutely divine, by the way), the top of the pastry becomes carmelized and literally melts in your mouth.
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1 tablespoon dry active yeast
1/2 cup warm water*
2 cups flour
Pinch of course sea salt
12 tablespoons good quality salted butter, at room temperature, plus 3 tablespoons more for pan and top of pastry
1 cup sugar, plus 3 tablespoons for sprinkling
Directions: Place the yeast in a small bowl and add 3 tablespoons of warm. Whisk to combine and let set for about five minutes until it foams. In another bowl fitted for a mixer with a dough hook, add flour, salt and yeast liquid, mix to combine. Slowly add water and beat until a soft ball forms. If dough is still a bit shaggy, add more water until a ball forms. Place into a well-oiled bowl and cover for at least three hours until doubled in size.
Once the dough has risen, generously flour a working surface. Roll dough into a rectangle about 1/2 inch thick. Dot 1/3 of butter into the center of the rectangle and sprinkle 1/3 cup of sugar onto the butter. Fold both sides, like a letter (here is a really great visual courtesy of David Lebovitz!) and then fold the bottom over. Roll out into another rectangle, repeating two other times using the same amount of butter and sugar and then fold the bottom over. Chill for at least 30 minutes.
Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Using one tablespoon of remaining butter, grease the bottom of a round cake pan. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon onto the bottom of the pan. Remove dough from the refrigerator and press into pan using hands. Dot remaining butter on top and sprinkle with remaining 2 tablespoons of sugar. Bake for 20 to 22 minutes until golden on top. Let cool until pastry can be handled. Place onto a serving plate and enjoy!
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Photography by ROSE & IVY