Quick Kouign Amann

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Written by Rae

This weekend some good things happened.  It was extremely cold in Seoul, but that didn’t really stop me from doing anything.  On Saturday Ben and I went to the Shinsegae in Myeong-dong and walked around the luxury grocery store – yes, that is our idea of fun!  We looked at all the cakes and items in the bakery, as well as their produce.  We even found portobello mushrooms, which I’ve never seen in my 5+ years in Korea.  Needless to say, I bought some and will be cooking them tonight.  Another thing we discovered was cream cheese kimbap at 김선생 (Kim Seon Saeng).  All I can say is amazzzzzzing!  It’s a pretty traditional kimbap except with less rice and a ton of veggies.  It also had walnuts in it to go with the cream cheese – pretty fancy for a kimbap.

On Sunday we had the chance to visit a new pastry shop in Gangnam, run by a French pastry chef and a teacher at Le Cordon Bleu here in Korea, which was really interesting.  But, before we visited the shop I decided to bang out this kouign amann.

If you’ve read some of our previous posts, you might have seen that I have made kouign amann several times before using various different recipes.  For this kouign amann, I went back to David Lebovitz’s recipe because I’ve had success with that in the past.  I also like how it makes a giant kouign amann, because I think the big ones retain their fluffly bread-like quality better than the tiny ones.

However, I did change a few things about it.  First of all, I did not let the dough rise in a warm place as it calls for in the beginning of the recipe.  I made the dough, shaped it into a rectangle and I immediately put it in the fridge to rise and for 1 hour.  Second of all, after the dough was ready, I did all the turns in one go.  I did one simple turn and one double turn, and then immediately put it in a buttered 9 inch pie pan, pre-heated the oven and baked it.  Why did I make these changes?  Well, I read in some french recipes and none of them said to let the dough initially rise in a warm place.  They all said to put it directly in the fridge and wait for an hour, or in the videos I saw, they immediately used their dough after making it.  I figured this would save a bit of time instead of letting it rise in a warm place for 1 hour + shaping it into a square and letting it cool down for 1 hour.

As for the turns, I just banged them all out in a row after watching some youtube videos of some French chefs making kouign amanns.  First I noticed they were not delicate while working with their dough.  They literally and figuratively bang-out the kouign amann.  It wasn’t a long strewn-out process.  They didn’t seemed stressed by it at all – which is something I took away from their videos.  Kouign amann isn’t about making the perfect turns in puff pastry.  It’s not about making perfect spirals or squares, it’s just about ending up with a caramelized bread-cake at the end.  I wanted to have fun with my kouign amann, not stress about waiting time or how many turns I was doing . . .  so I just did what I saw one baker do in a video – one simple and one double turn.

All said and done, my “quick kouign amann” turned out yummmmmayyy!  It was nicely caramelized on the outside and fluffy enough to enjoy on the inside.  I wasn’t disappointed at all.  I actually used a little less sugar than called for, too – but I’m not sure how much, I just added it intuitively, which is another thing I got from the bakers in the videos I watched.  To be fair, I have made this same kouign aman following the directions to the T, which also turned out very nicely (and you can see a picture in my other kouign amman post), and I think a little fluffier because of the resting times, but Benoit said that this one was prettier and it was equally tasty.  I’ll take it!

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