Kouign-Amann is a classic French dessert from Brittany. Since this is a dessert with only a few ingredients, it is a dish in which top quality butter will really shine. This recipe is adapted from King Arthur Flour and will make one 9-inch round cake in about 3 hours. I weighed all the ingredients for the dough and used volume measurements for the butter block. A good ruler is a useful tool so that the dough is rolled out to the right dimensions.
270 g. (2-1/4 cups) All-purpose flour
4 g. (3/4 tsp.) salt
2 g. (1/2 tsp. instant yeast
184 g. (6.5 oz.) water at warm room temperature
170 g. (12 Tbs.) cold salted butter
(198 g. (1 cup) granulated sugar
1 large egg (lightly beaten with a pinch of salt for an egg wash)
Combine the flour, salt, and yeast in a medium bowl. Add the water and using a dough whisk mix the dough until there is no longer any dry flour. The dough will be shaggy. Do not overmix since we do not want to develop the gluten and make the cake tough. Cover the dough and allow it to sit at warm room temperature for about 90-120 minutes, until it is puffy and about 1.5 times its original size.
While the dough is rising, make the butter block. Start with a sheet of 12 x 16 baking parchment. Fold the long side by 4 inches to form a 12 x 12 square. Fold the opposite side in by 5 inches to form a 12 x 7 rectangle. Last fold in 2.5 inches from each of the other two sides to form a 7 x 7 square.
In a medium bowl, cut the butter into small pieces and mix it with the sugar with your hands until the sugar is fully incorporated. Put the butter/sugar mixture in the center of the inside of the 7 x 7 square so that it is fully covered. Please on the butter block with a rolling pin until it is an evenly thick square. Put in the refrigerator until about 15 minutes before the dough has finished rising.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
When the dough is ready, well flour a work surface and the top of the dough. Roll the dough into a 16 x 8 inch oval. Brush off any excess flour on the top surface of the dough. Put the butter block in the center of the oval. Fold the two long sides over the butter block. Press down on the two open edges of the dough with a rolling pin to seal the edges.
Well flour the work surface and the top of the dough and rotate it 90 degrees. Press with the rolling pin along the seam to seal it. Roll the dough into an 18 x 8 rectangle. Brush off any excess flour on the top surface, and fold the long side in thirds to form a 6 x 8 rectangle.
Well flour the work surface and the top of the dough and rotate it 90 degrees. Again roll it into an 18 x 8 rectangle, brush any excess flour off the top surface, and fold the long sides into thirds to form a 6 x 8 rectangle.
Well flour the work surface and the top of the dough and roll it into a 14 x 14 square. Brush any excess flour off the top surface and fold the corners in towards the center to form a 7- or 8-inch square., and then into a 7 inch diameter circle.
Coat a 9 inch cake pan with cooking spray. Put a 9-inch circle of baking parchment on top of the dough and flip it. Cut the upper surface with a baking lame or sharp knife with a series of ¼ inch deep cuts spread about an inch apart first in one direction than again in about a 30 degree different orientation. With a toothpick of skewer, poke 6-8 well-spaced holes all the way through the dough. Put the baking parchment and dough gently in the cake pan.
Brush the top of the dough with the egg wash.
Bake for 50-60 minutes until golden brown. Remove it from the oven and allow it to cool for about an hour before slicing and serving. It will keep well at room temperature for up to 24 hours.