This Week: Kouign Amann

This week we’re off to the Middle East, the region where — most historians agree — the first layered pastries were invented. Laminated sweets have come a long way since then, but they still don’t get much more decadent than kouign amann, a Lebanese speciality so sweet and delicious that…oh no wait, that isn’t right.

If the UN gave an annual prize for the nation with the most developed sweet tooth, that nation would surely be Germany, a place where sugar and good butter are national dishes in their own right. You can find them both in abundance in a Swabian delicacy known as kouign amann, a pastry which…oh, no. Hang on.

My Irish grandmother wasn’t conversant in Gaelic, but sometimes, in the kitchen, my sister and I would hear her muttering in a strange, sing-songy language, reciting phrases that had come down to her from her own grandmother, a woman she affectionately called móraí.

Rats! That isn’t right either. My Irish grandmother was as sentimental as a bricklayer. Looks like I’ve got to turn to Wikipedia this week:

Kouign-amann (pronounced [,kwinja’mɑ̃nː], Breton pl. kouignoù-amann) is a Breton cake. It is a round crusty cake, made with a dough akin to bread dough with sugar sprinkled between layers. The resulting cake is slowly baked until the butter puffs up the dough (resulting in the layered aspect of it) and the sugar caramelizes. The name derives from the Breton words for cake (“kouign”) and butter (“amann”). Kouign-amann is a speciality of the town Douarnenez in Finistère, where it originated in 1865.

So wait, you mean we’re back in France again? Oh crikey, and I just did charlotte couple of weeks ago. There really is no escaping these people when it comes to baking, but alright, I’m game.

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