Cupcakes are all the rage in France. Our upstairs neighbours run a shop in cupcakes and there was a Dutch lady in our village who gave cupcake lessons to children and adults. She had to go back to the Netherlands.
Suddenly the local weekly newspaper had a front-page article announcing that a finalist of a TV cooking contest – Sabrina of Master Chef season 2011, then a secretary – had opened her cupcake school in the shop where the Dutch lady had been.
So when I was invited to participate in a workshop to make the Breton Kouign Amman cake at a Celtic event in our village, I was not really surprised to see small aluminium foil cake forms.
Normally, the Kouign Amman is made as a large square or rectangular cake. But this individual size helpings – called kouignettes – are interesting for groups and fun to make with children.
As with every traditional recipe, there is not just one standard way of preparing it.
A baker of Douarnenez, Yves-René Scordia, would have invented this “butter cake” in 1860. There have been many varieties since (with vanilla, with fruit jams, with almonds) and there is an obvious similarity to other cakes such as the Galette des Rois, which has an almond filling, the corolles and some north African and Turkish cakes.
- One roll of puff pastry*
- To make the puff pastry you need 250 grammes of flour, 125 cl of tepid water, 5 grammes of instant yeast and 15 grammes of salted butter.
- Preheat oven to 100 °C.
- Dissolve yeast in lukewarm water in a mixing bowl and let it rest several minutes, stir with wooden or plastic spoon to get a greyish fluid.
- Add a quarter of the flour and stir until it is incorporated in the liquid.
- Add another batch of the flour and knead the dough, adding flour as you go.
- Cover the bowl with plastic foil, turn off the oven and put the dough to rise for 30 to 45 minutes
- Take the bowl our of the oven, sprinkle flower on a working space, put the dough on top and roll it out in a rectangular shape.
- Add a layer of soft, but not runny, butter on top and fold the dough in four, enclosing the butter inside.
- Press it together lightly with a rolling pin, envelop the dough in plastic or aluminium foil and set aside in the fridge for an hour.
- Repeat this process for at least three times.
*) Start here if you are using prepared pastry dough
- Preheat oven to 180 °C.
- Knead the dough in a sausage shape and make four “ribbons” of 15 cm.
- Sprinkle flour on the works space and roll the ribbons into thinner and longer rectangular strips of 30 cm long and at least 5 cm wide.
- Smear butter on top.
- Roll up the ribbon and put it in a round aluminium cupcake form.
- Sprinkle generously with sugar.
- Place the cake forms in the oven and bake for some 25-30 minutes to a golden brown colour with caramelised sugar on top. Keep a close eye on the cakes towards the end as you do not want the sugar to turn black, but you do not want to take the cakes out too early either.