This mouth-watering, rich Brittany dessert will enjoy every lover of sweet pastries! With its multiple layers of dough, the traditional Kouign Amann - "Butter Cake" in Breton - has been an indispensable dish for family meals and popular gatherings in Bretagne.
In Brittany, it is believed that the original Kouign Amann has resulted from a failed bread paste. Indeed, in 1865, a Breton baker from Douarnenez may have brilliantly turned the dough into a fine cake, adding sugar and butter. The compact yet refined "Butter Cake" was born, rapidly becoming the speciality of this village in the Finistère. The traditional Kouign Amann knew a greater success after 1945 when tourism started in the Brittany region of France.
The authentic Breton recipe consists in multiple layers of alternating brioche dough, butter, and sugar. The layers are arranged in a big circular cake mould (with a diametre of 50 to 70cm) called roue de charrette ("carriage wheel") in Bretagne. The rich pudding is finally slowly baked until the sugar carmelizes.
The French Butter Cake requires many skills and know-how - like its Alsatian "cousin" the Apple Strudel! Furthermore, Breton bakers and cooks commonly specify that the best way to enjoy the Kouign Amann is to eat it warm and the day it has been cooked - without forgetting the glass of Brandy to accompany! That is why when ordering a mouth-watering Butter Cake in Brittany, you are commonly asked for the day - and even the hour sometimes! - it would be relished.
Because of its success, the Brittany Butter Cake has now many industrial variations that both Breton and French gourmets cannot duly call Kouign Amann. That is why, as Bordeaux bakers did for their little Canele cake, Douarnenez patissiers (pastry cooks) decided in 1999 to create an association to ensure their expertise and authenticity would be recognized.
Thus to fully enjoy the quality of the Breton speciality, you may make sure that it is denominated as Véritable Kouign Amann de Douarnenez. Fabrication artisanale inventée vers 1860 à Douarnenez ("authentic Kouign Amann from Douarnenez. Traditional homemade produce invented in 1860 in Douarnenez").