Friday, October 26, 2012

The Queen of Maple: Maple Kouign Amann

I've been receiving shipments of butter.  Boxes.  Pounds.  Through express mail.  Butter.

Those who know that I'm a Vermonter may conclude that I'm simply so far removed from civilization that I require this mode of churned delivery.  Not so.

The butter in question is a new product from Vermont Creamery, a gloriously creamy butter laced with maple and sea salt.  Let me just let you luxuriate in that splendiferous marriage of goodness:  Vermont Creamery butter.  Maple.  Sea salt.  Are you finished basking in the sweet glory?  No?  Take your time.  I'll wait.

When reaping such a boon, the proper course of action is to cut into a slab of that butter and smear it on a warm slice of fresh bread immediately.  This done, the recipient of said bounty has to tear herself away from bread and super duper butter and apply herself to experiment with her gift from the creamery goddesses.

I've made quite a few beautiful things with this butter now (hence the multiple shipments.  "Uh, hi, it's Gesine.  Yeah, about that butter you sent me?  It's gone."  Butter People:  "But you only received your 4 pounds today.")  But the very first pastry that demanded a Maple Sea Salt makeover was that treat made of butter and sweetness, the Kouign Amann, that buttery, layered, sugary crisp Breton butter cake.

(makes 15)


For the dough:

5 cups all purpose flour
2 cups water
1/4 cup maple syrup
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 packets instant yeast (I use Red Star Platinum yeast)

For the Butter Block:

1 pound Vermont Creamery Maple Sea Salt Butter, room temperature

To assemble:

2 cups granulated sugar
(or 1 cup granulated sugar and 1 cup maple sugar (not syrup), stirred together)


For the dough:

•In the bowl of a stand mixer fit with the hook attachment add 1 1/2 cups of the water and maple syrup.  In a small bowl, stir together the flour, yeast and salt.  Add the flour mixture to the water/ maple.  Mix on slow until the dough just comes together but is still shaggy.  If the dough looks dry, continue mixing on low, adding a tablespoon at a time of water until a firm dough forms.  Mix until you have a very shiny, smooth dough that pulls away from the sides of the bowl.  About 10 to 15 minutes of mixing.

Spray and cover with plastic wrap to proof.

Proof the dough:  Transfer the dough to a bowl sprayed with non-stick cooking spray.  Spray the top with non-stick spray.  Cover with plastic wrap and place in a warm area of your kitchen until the dough doubles in size, about an hour.

Doubled in size.  Wanna know how to track the size?  Take a picture of the dough when you first put it away to rise and consult it to compare and contrast with your growing blob.

•When you have 20 minutes left to the proof, make the butter block:

•Place the butter in the bowl of a stand mixer fit with the paddle attachment.  Mix until the butter is smooth but don't mix so long that the butter starts to melt.

Pat the butter into a rough rectangle on a piece of parchment
Fold your parchment over the butter block to form a little package.

Tape the seams to secure the edges.

•Transfer the butter to a piece of parchment and pat into a rectangle approximately 8" x 11".  Fold the parchment over to create a secure package and tape the seams down.  Turn the packet over and, using a rolling pin, roll the butter into a neat and even rectangle, making sure to get the butter into all the corners.  Refrigerate for 10 to 20 minutes but no more.  ***you want to be able to bend the butter block without it cracking but it should still be cool enough that you can easily peel the parchment off the butter block.
Make sure to roll the butter into the edges!

•Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface.  Roll the dough into a rough rectangle approximately 12" x 24".  Unwrap the butter block and place on one half of the dough and fold the second half of the dough over the butter to "lock" the butter in.  Press the edges to seal.

Place butter on one side.
Lock in the butter.

•Move the little dough/butter packet aside and clean your work surface of flour.  Sprinkle your work surface with 1/4 cup of sugar (or the maple/granulated mixture).  Place the dough on top, the longest side facing you, and sprinkle the top of the dough with 1/4 cup of sugar.  Roll the dough into a rough 12 x 18 inch rectangle.  Fold one short half towards the middle and the second half over the 1st, as if you were folding a business letter (this is called a single fold or letter fold).

Sprinkle surface and top with sugar.

Fold one side towards the middle.

Fold second side over, like you're fold a business letter.

•Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 20 minutes.

•Sprinkle your work surface with 1/4 cup of sugar and place the dough on top of the sugar and sprinkle the top with 1/4 cup more sugar.  Roll into a 12 x 18 inch rectangle and make another single/ letter fold.  Cover with plastic wrap.  Refrigerate for 45 minutes.  While you allow the dough to rest, preheat your oven to 400º.

•Sprinkle your work surface with 1/4 cup of sugar and place your dough onto the sugared surface.  Sprinkle the top with another 1/4 cup and roll into a rough, slightly larger than 25" x 15"rectangle (***you may notice that your dough is weeping.  That's normal, just the sugar interacting with the dough).  Cut the dough into 15 even squares with a very sharp knife.  Fold each corner of a square towards the middle and press to form a smaller square.  Place your Kouigns a few inches apart and sprinkle with the remaining sugar.

•Bake for 20 minutes or until the pastries are deep, golden brown.  Serve with ice cream (I made a vanilla bean creme fraiche/caramel/green apple ice cream...recipe soon)!  Or not.