Posts Tagged ‘sweet’

In Brittany | Kouign Amann from Au Four St Melaine bakery in Morlaix

15 September 2011

It looks fairly harmless; it’s hiding it’s game. After a few summers in Brittany we’ve discovered what has to be the best Kouign Amann. Period.

Kouign Amann is a traditional Breton… cake? bread? voluptuous addiction? The most common version is a bread batter folded many times over with butter and sugar to create a dense, caramelized, buttery puff pastry of sorts. According to renowned Breton chef Jacques Thorel, original Kouign Amann was made with leftover bread dough simply mixed with butter and sugar. The technique of folding the dough repeatedly came later, invented by a baker who knew about puff pastry.

I haven’t attempted to make Kouign Amann – yet. Currently our summers in Brittany are occupied more by heavy construction work than creative cooking. But we look for every excuse to drive the 25-odd minutes to Morlaix, to a small boulangerie hidden on a steep side street, framed by the towering viaduct that contributes to the town’s unique character.

The Kouign Amann from Au Four St Melaine doesn’t look as good as it tastes. It’s no shining, copper disk oozing with butter and sugar. It looks somewhat staid. But, once heated (for about 10 minutes, in a medium oven), it caramelizes on the surface while loosening up inside and becomes a seriously dangerous temptation.

You’ll see. If ever you are in Morlaix.

UPDATE SUMMER 2012: Au Four St Melaine has closed. Tragic. We have not yet found an adequate replacement.

Au Four St Melaine

1 Venelle Four Saint Melaine
29600 Morlaix
France

*

Related posts

Mussels with shallots and white wine

At the market in Brittany | Artichokes

Poppy seed and almond cake

4 April 2011

I wanted to write about this cake, which I made, in close succession, once for Louise’s first birthday, again to take these pictures, and another time in between.

It is fiendishly good. It also seems to be the object of a small controversy.

I found this cake on Lottie + Doof and it looked perfectly irresistible. But one small thing irked me about the recipe; the fact that it contains almond extract but no almonds, which feels like cheating, just a little bit. So I thought about adding almonds. I was slightly worried about the fluffiness factor so alluringly portrayed, so, standing there, in front of my ingredients, I pondered – a good five minutes – whether I should substitute some of the flour with ground almonds, or not. I decided yes. And barely half a minute later, I read the blog author’s response to a comment on his poppy seed cake post: “My recommendation would be to try the original before adding almond meal. The texture is what makes this so special, and the meal will change that.” I very nearly threw away my mix of almonds and flour. But I didn’t.

My cake, though undoubtedly much denser than the original, was also completely delicious.

The second time I made the cake I used no flour at all. Thomas insists it is the better version. I (respectfully) disagree. Without flour it is too grainy and buttery. This observation should of course be a hint that the initial version is in fact truly the best. Possibly. But I like dense cakes. Plus, the recipe without almonds can already be found in at least two places. I stand by this one.

***

Slightly adapted from Food and Wine via Lottie and Doof

3/4 cup (200 g) poppy seeds

2/3 cup (100 g) blanched almonds

14 Tbsps (200 g) unsalted butter

1 cup (200 g) sugar

4 eggs

3/4 cup (100 g) flour

2 tsps baking powder

1/4 tsp salt

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 tsp almond extract

Zest from 1/3 lemon*

Powdered (confectioners) sugar for dusting

***

Bring 1/2 cup (filtered) water to boil in a small saucepan, remove from heat, stir in the poppy seeds, cover, and let stand for 1 hour.

In a food processor, pulse grind the poppy seeds until lightly crushed. Remove poppy seeds and set aside. Pulse chop the almonds until finely ground.

Preheat oven to 350°F (175°C). Line a 10 x 5″ (25 x 13 cm) baking pan with parchment paper and butter the paper generously.

In a small bowl, mix the flour, almonds, baking powder, and salt.

In a large bowl, beat the (softened) butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the poppy seeds until well combined. Then add the eggs, one at a time, beating well to incorporate each time. Add the vanilla extract, almond extract, and lemon zest. Then gently stir in the almond/flour mixture until just combined. Pour the batter into the prepared pan.

Bake for 40 to 45 minutes, until a skewer or toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean.

Let the cake cool completely. Dust with powdered sugar through a fine mesh sieve before serving.

*The lemon zest should be just enough to make the flavors pop without giving a lemony taste.


%d bloggers like this: