What is made up of numerous layers of paper-thin flaky super-buttery dough, yet is not a croissant or a puff pastry? Why, it’s the Kouign Amann, of course! The…what? – you may ask. I can’t blame you if you are a bit puzzled about this unpronounceable name. Pronounced as “ku-ween a-mon”, its roots date back to the 1860’s where it originated in Brittany, France. The traditional kouign amann is known as a “butter cake” in Bretagne, which again, is quite confusing to me, because it really doesn’t look like a cake at all.
The original Breton recipe for kouign amann consists of multiple layers of brioche dough, butter and sugar. And believe me, there is loads of butter and sugar in those layers, so much so that each layer is crispy and aromatic from the caramelized sugar and of course, the heavenly whiffs of butter. So, where can this evil and supremely fattening but drop-dead delicious kouign amann be found here?
Well, none other than The Bread Shop! Read about my earlier review of this quaint bakery here.
Located in a quiet street in Damansara Heights, the inside of the shop is hardly quiet as customers queue up to buy the fresh-out-of-oven breads and pastries while others sit and enjoy their cuppas and light meals. And then there are the cheerful busy crew bustling in the bakery, turning out trays and trays of their best-selling breads, pastries and tarts. The Bread Shop prides itself as the very first bakery to bake and introduce the kouign amann here in Malaysia.
As I sat and chatted with Peng, the owner, I got quite an education about the kouign amann from her. I could see the passion in her as her eyes lit up when she explained to me the origins of this dessert. And yes, it is a dessert – it is sweet. There is no savoury version. The kouign amann has taken the USA quite by storm since its introduction in California a few years ago. This Breton pastry has gained a tremendous following now all over the US. Of course, it is also widely loved in Europe, especially in France.
As I continued to bite into that crispy ever-so-slightly burnt surface (due to the caramelization) of my kouign amann and dropping a hundred pieces of flaky crumbs on my plate (and table), Peng went on to tell me how she is pretty confident that this will catch on here too, given the discerning pastry lovers we have in the Klang Valley. Licking my lips at the buttery wisps that are stuck around my mouth and chin (and also leaving a trail on my shirt), Peng laughed and warned that there really is a lot of butter in the recipe and I believe her. After all, David Lebovitz proclaimed that he didn’t know of any other cake or dessert that has more butter than this!
The kouign amann in The Bread Shop is done in a somewhat irregular roundish shape – it is, after all, hand made. The glistening top is from some buttery syrup brushed on it, which not only gives it that inviting sheen, it also caramelizes to a crisp honey-like crust.
Like its fellow countryman, the macaron, will the kouign amann become the next craved-for dessert among Malaysians? It’s not available in multi colours and as Peng explained it, it’s certainly more complicated to make (“you have to get the technique just right!”) but it tastes one helluva delicious! I swear it goes insanely well with coffee and one may never be enough although it’s the size of my palm.
At the moment, there are only 2 types available at The Bread Shop: the classic rendition (RM5.80) and one with mixed berries (RM6.80). Peng is planning to come up with another one with peanut butter soon – can’t wait to try that! Go grab one (or more) now at The Bread Shop and be among the firsts to bite into this sinfully addictive kouign amann!
*Watch out for upcoming post on what else is scrumptious in The Bread Shop!
The Bread Shop
11 Jalan Setiakasih 5
50490 Kuala Lumpur