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Wednesday, May 16, 2007

How to Make Your Home Smell Good Without Potpourri

sugar crusted breton butter cake

Sugar Crusted Breton Butter Cake (traditional name Kouign Amann or "bread and butter"). Every time I pick up the book Butter Sugar Flour Eggs by Gale Gand, Rick Tramonto and Julia Moskin, I am drawn to the same photograph and recipe. My book actually falls open to the page this recipe is on, and I had never made this cake up until this point. I find the idea of a sugar crusted yeasted cake with layer upon layer of buttery dough to be a wonderful one, and I'm wondering why I haven't tried it sooner. At first it may seem a bit daunting (even though the ingredients are few) with all of the folding and resting of the dough to work the butter into several layers. Fear not, it really isn't that difficult. All this recipe requires is some spare time and a little patience. Basically this cake is a laminated dough much like a croissant or danish minus the time spent chilling the dough between each turn.MEP

Sugar Crusted Breton Butter Cake (from the aforementioned Butter Sugar Flour Eggs):

1/2 ounce fresh yeast or 1/4 ounce active dry yeast

1/4 cup warm water

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

1/4 tsp. salt

10 Tbsp lukewarm water

8 Tbsp (4 ounces, one stick) unsalted butter, cut into pieces and slightly softened

1/4 cup granulated sugar

2 Tbsp confectioner's sugar for dusting


- Dissolve the yeast and 1/4 cup warm water in a medium bowl. Once the yeast is dissolved, work in 1/2 cup of the flour until the mixture is well blended and forms a little ball. Cover the bowl with a damp cloth and allow to rise in a warm spot for about half hour.

-Combine the remaining 1 3/4 cups flour and salt in a large bowl. Add the yeast mixture and blend together with your fingers, sprinkling the lukewarm water in gradually to make a pliable dough. If the dough seems dry, you may need to add another Tablespoon or so of water. Knead until smooth, about 4 minutes, and return to the large bowl, cover with a damp cloth and let rise until doubled for about one hour.

folding in the butter:

folding in the butter

-Turn the dough out onto a floured work surface and dust the top with flour. Roll into a rectangle about 8 1/2 by 11" . Turn the dough so that the 8 1/2 wide section is towards you. Dot the lower 2/3rds with the butter pieces and sprinkle on the granulated sugar. Fold the dough as if you are folding a letter in thirds. Folding the top section (the unbuttered section) down first then bringing the lower section up over the top to form a rectangle. Roll the folded dough into another rectangle 8 1/2 x 11 inches again. Turn the dough so the narrow end faces you, and fold the dough again into thirds the same way you did the first time. Cover the rectangle with a damp towel and let rest about 15 minutes. Roll the dough again into a rectangle and fold as you did before, rest under a damp towel for 15 minutes. And one last time, roll the dough out to 8 1/2 x11" and fold into thirds as before. Cover with a damp towel and let rest 15 minutes.

-Heat the oven to 400 f. Butter and flour a 9" round cake pan.

-Roll the dough into a circle (as best as you can) about 10 inches in diameter (it's ok if it isn't a perfect circle, mine was more of a square). Transfer the dough to the pan and fold up the corners to fit into the round pan. Using a sharp knife or a razor blade, score a crosshatch pattern on the top of the cake (like tic-tac-toe)scoring the top

-Bake for 20 minutes, brushing the top of the cake every 5 minutes with the butter that oozes out of the cake. After 20 minutes, sprinkle the top of the cake with the confectioner's sugar and continue baking, without brushing, until golden brown on the top, about 10 minutes more.

-Let cool on a rack until the crust is just slightly hardened. Serve warm cut into wedges.

The sugar hardened crunchy crust contrasts beautifully with the moist chewy buttery insides. This is not a very sweet cake and I actually think next time I make it I may sprinkle sugar on the dough which each fold I make.

Thank me later for the way your home smells while this is baking.


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Homesick Texan said...

I've heard that real estate agents suggest covering a loaf of bread in milk and cinnamon and baking it in the oven to make your house smell good, but that always seems wasteful. Why not bake something like this instead? Then you'll not only get the sweet smelling house but get to eat something yummy too! Looks wonderful!

landa said...

This looks delicious. I am trying this next week.

Brilynn said...

I can almost smell it from here! That looks fantastic!

Petra said...

I love Kouign Amann - will have to bake one too :-)

Jen the Bread Freak said...

Homesick Texan: I agree completely!

Landa: Thank you :). I hope you enjoy it too!

Brilynn: Thanks much! It's so yummy.

Petra: This was my first time having it, and I can taste why you love it. Mmmmmmmm. :D

bakerina said...

Funny -- my copy of Butter Sugar Flour Eggs seems to fall open to that recipe a lot, too. :) I've never made it, though. Obviously, I have to make some plans. Yours is just righteous.

Jen the Bread Freak said...

Thank you, Bakerina :D. It was so good, I'll be making it again.

Rose said...

I would rather bake this than buy a pot pourri that's for sure. BTW your maccarons look so cute too.

Helen said...

I have been having a craving for kouign-amann for so long...I was thinking of making one this weekend but I got lazy! Yours looks wonderful!

Jen the Bread Freak said...

Rose: Thank you! It's definitely better than pot pourri :)

Helen: Oh, I'd love to see your kouign-amann, I bet it's a sight to behold! Thank you for the compliment :D

in kc said...

I made this today and just sat down to a bit of it. I've never had anything like this. It was crunchy on the outside and soft and tender on the inside, with a rich, buttery, slighly sweet taste. I only hope it is half as good the second day!