The Kouign Amann: Get to Know the Buttery Sugary Goodness of the Next It Dessert

February 3, 2019

I have mixed feelings about writing this article. One part of me wants to keep the news about Kouign Amanns to a minimum, I want them all to myself and they are hard enough to get in Manila as it is. On the other hand, spreading the word about this special pastry might just hype it up enough to raise demand, and consequently, the supply for it as well. But, I’m getting ahead of myself. What is a Kouign Amann (pronounced “kween am-ahn”) anyway? And why does Dominique Ansel, creator of the Cronut™, consider it even better than his trademarked creation?

The name Kouign Amann translates into “butter cake” in Breton, which should give you a clue as to why this pastry has a special place in my heart (and thighs). It is made out of a yeasted dough folded over a considerable amount of cold butter (Ansel uses what looks like a 1cm thick sheet of butter in this video!), rolled out, and sprinkled with more butter and sugar. The result is what David Lebovitz calls “one of his favorite caramelized things in the world.”

A traditional, well-made Kouign Amann is a study in wonderful contrasts. The top should be flaky and light, almost like a croissant, while the bottom is slightly denser and more doughy. The butter and sugar form a crunchy coating in some places, and in others combine into a sweet and light syrup. As to the flavor, what you see is pretty much what you get. With only six ingredients (flour, yeast, water, butter, salt, and sugar), everything comes down to the butter and the sugar. If really good butter is used, then a Kouign Amann will kick the vanilla custard-filled butt of any Cronut™ anytime.

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Bon Ton Bakery’s Kouign Amann (PHP 70): Yep. That’s butter pooling in the middle.

Kouign Amann recipes are notoriously tricky to execute well. Even Lebovitz, a very experienced pastry chef, had some of his attempts end in a squidgy, buttery mess. The extreme heat in our country doesn’t help either, causing the dough to not develop correctly. It’ll be a while, then, until I pluck up the courage to make my own. Until such a time, I have to buy my Kouign Amanns from other commercial establishments.

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Wildflour’s less traditional interpretation (PHP 110)

I know of three places in Manila that make Kouign Amanns. There’s Bon Ton Bakery at Salcedo Market, Bizu (which serves their version topped with ice cream), and Wildflour (come early because they do run out on some days). I’m crossing my fingers that this means Kouign Amanns are slowly but surely (and deservedly) gaining popularity, but I’m also wary of it getting caught in any Cronut™-scale hysteria. I don’t really want the market to be flooded by subpar copycats. However, while I never bought into the croissant/doughnut hybrid hype myself, I do think the Kouign Amann might just be worth the risk.

Have you tried Kouign Amanns? What did you think of it? Ever attempted to recreate for yourself at home? Leave us a comment below and share your experiences!

Katrina Iriberri Katrina Iriberri

Katrina is a finance worker bee who would never say no to anything flavored salted caramel. When she’s not baking something with chocolate or cream cheese in it, she’s either reading Austen, or Googling the best places to eat in NYC or Paris. She dreams of watching the El Classico at the Bernabéu one day (with Real Madrid winning, of course) and of being adopted by Ina and Jeffrey Garten, if only to inherit Ina’s barn and kitchen.

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17 responses to “The Kouign Amann: Get to Know the Buttery Sugary Goodness of the Next It Dessert”

  1. Charmaine Sy says:

    You should try Brasserie Cicou’s version of the Kouignn Amann. They serve it with salted caramel ice cream 🙂

  2. Jai Nadal says:

    If I remember correctly, there were some in L.E.S. Bagels in the Tuscany area along McKinley Hill, Taguig. I’ve seen it in other places as well, but just can’t recall.

  3. Midge K. Manlapig says:

    Have you had the kouignn amann over at JiPan (the Japanese bakery): crunchy, flaky, sugary, buttery madness to put a smile on your face. Eat it with a cafe au lait and it’s like having petit dejeuner in Paris. 😉

    • Sergia Susana says:

      They have kouign amann at Jipan’s??? I was there last week, but I didn’t see it on the menu. Aghhh!!! Sounds like it’s worth a try. Thanks for the tip! 🙂

  4. Pamela Cortez says:

    Brasserie Cicou’s is apparently really good but I’ve never had it!

  5. alb says:

    Dont know why, but everytime I read articles like this, the otor always forgets the Price….

  6. Tina A says:

    Oh man I love buttery things. I want to try this so bad D: I wasn’t into the cronut so much. I’m not a fan of pastries that are really sweet (e.g. the cronut that has icing plus filling), I prefer simple kinds with a nice texture. Like Japanese cheesecake or those mochi donuts from Gavino’s! I haven’t seen Kouign Amanns in pastry shops, but I will try it if I see it! Thank you for sharing this with us! 😀

  7. Victoria Castillo says:

    Also heard about Gourmet Finds, based in Forbes, which makes it to order.

  8. magsybee says:

    Hi Katrina! Thank you for the great article on Kouign Amann its also one of my favourites! Just wanted to inform you that JiPan has been making Kouign Amann for almost 21 years now. They have a branch in Glorietta, one in Megamall, and a storefront at their commissary in Mandaluyong. I hope you try it its really the best out there! 🙂

  9. I discovered the existence of Kouign Amann 2 years ago when my mom ordered a couple from JiPan. It’s probably the best way to introduce someone into the buttery goodness because it sets a high standard for it. IT’S REALLY GOOD. It’s different in appearance and, somehow, taste but it’s one of the best ones out there hehe It used to be 60 pesos for an estimated 3×5″ rectangle but it recently went up to 75… I still buy it anyway <3

  10. dant says:

    discovered this 7 years ago in the park hyatt in paris. i ate so much of it – so good!!!!!!!! hard to find it elsewhere in asia though.

  11. […] even in Parisian bakeries. My curiosity was rewarded with something very much like a flattened Kouign Amann, crispy on the outside, chewy on the inside, and buttery all […]

  12. labellevie says:

    Discovered the kouign amann in Bretagne when I was a student there a few years ago… I haven’t stopped thinking about it since. It is definitely one of France’s greatest gifts to mankind haha! Glad to know that it can be found in Manila, thanks for the tip!

  13. Desa Baking says:

    First time I tried kouign amann was around a week ago from Tymad Bistro (French bistro in Cebu) and I haven’t stopped thinking about it since. I’ve yet to try the ones here in Manila! Thanks for posting this.

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