The Mysterious Case of the Butter Cake

Butter cake? It does not sound great but maybe you know it as kouign-amann, pronounced “quinya-man”. This cake, famous in France, but especially in Brittany takes its name from the Breton language “Kouign” – cake and “amann” – butter. Granted, the name is not the most appealing one in the world, but “profiteroles” sound more like a disease than a delicacy and they are no less delicious. Once you will have tasted a slice of kouign-amann, you will not be able to resist a second one.

So what is it exactly?

The Kouign-amann is meant to have been baked for the first time in the 1860s by a baker named Yves-René Scordia in the fair city of Douarnenez, Finistère (Southern Brittany). However, other versions about the genesis of the cake can be found. Some pretend it is the result of a recipe that turned out bad, or more accurately unexpectedly good. Others assert that the recipe is actually inspired from a Norwegian cake. All in all, nothing is sure. The delicacy is actually a nightmare for those trying to get in shape: bread dough, sugar and butter. The kouign-amann does not care for fruits, chocolate and other superfluous accessories. It is a real, traditional pastry, a tribute to sugar and fat. Yet, the appearing simplicity of the dessert is quite deceiving and requires a lot more skills than wannabe bakers would have. It is even quite likely that your first attempt would end up in a dry somewhat sweet dough, dipping in butter. What makes the pastry so peculiar is its preparation. The dough is used to wrap butter up several times before shoving it into the oven and, if everything goes according to plan, the dough becomes soaked with melting butter while caramelising. So if you are confident enough to give it a try, here is the recipe for you to start baking.

Kitchen time!

1 tablespoon (12 g) dried yeast
¾ cup (175 ml) tepid water
2 cups (260 g) all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon sea salt
1 cup (200 g) sugar
(Plus additional sugar for rolling out the pastry)
1 stick salted butter (110 g), cut into ½-inch (2 cm) pieces and chilled
2-3 tablespoons additional salted butter, melted

For the steps to follow, check out this link below:

Bon appétit!


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