I make no secret of my love for bread & co. Even in this carb and gluten free era, I’m not afraid to say that I’m pleasantly surprised to see that after the micro bakers, now the (top)chefs start selling artisanal quality bread. From the Amsterdam ‘Bakkerij’ restaurant AS, to the Michelin starred restaurant In de Wulf in Dranouter, Belgium.
In de Wulf’s owner, Kobe Desramaults, recently opened the Superette in Gent. An artisanal bakery with a free standing Scandinavian wood oven, in which he bakes bread, (hazelnut) croissants, éclairs and worstenbroodjes. Either to take home, or to eat immediately at the bakery.
I always say that a food trend only can make it, if he makes it in New York. And this is also the case with the kouign amann, that originated in Brittany, France. Only after this crunchy and flakey round buttery cake with a caramelized sugar coating started to become a hit there, it made it back to Europe via a U-turn. To be exact, to Gent, where the Superette became a baker’s pilgrims destiny in no time. This due to, amongst other things, the served kouign amann. It’s not unthinkable that the cronut baker with French roots, Dominique Ansel, and also the oganic supermarket Trader Joe’s had something to do with the European outing. The latter one makes a frozen version of the laborious cake, that experiences it’s fifteen minutes of culinary fame right now.
The name stems from the Breton language that has the same roots as Welsh. ‘Kouign’ means cake, and ‘amann’ means butter. Due to the tongue breaking quality of this name, Trader Joe’s gives a steer in the direction of the correct pronunciation with the subtitle ‘Queen Yamman’. But don’t be surpised if this lingo is going to lead an American life of it’s own.
Thanks to the current hype, there are lots of online recipes to be found of the butter cake that originated around 1860 in the Breton town Douarnenez in Finistère. For instance, from the food glossy Bon Appétit and the Ameri-Parisian patisserie blogger David Lebovitz.
Those who think of adding this cake to the assortment of their micro bakery: be aware that it must not be too sweet. And that one needs to taste a clear hint of the obligatory ingredient, salted butter.
U-turn or not, kouign amann remains a Breton cake after all.