And They’re Off! Rose Levy Bernanbaum’s Bake along for Her Newest Book the Baking Bible.

And They’re Off! Rose Levy Bernanbaum’s Bake along for Her Newest Book the Baking Bible.

February 1, 2015

Here’s how it works, 25 Alpha Bakers commit to baking their way through the newly published The Baking Bible each week, and each week they post their experiences on Rose’s Blog. The recipes are scheduled in advance so that everyone is baking the same recipe. I am not an Alpha Baker yet; I’m on the alternate list in case someone drops out. No matter, I’m going to bake alongside them and post my link on Rose’s blog. The first recipe will be posted to Rose’s site on Monday, December 1st. We are making the cover recipe Kouigns Amann (pronounced keh-WEEN-ah-mahn). It is “simply” a sweet brioche. The publisher will not allow us to post the recipe, just the experience of baking.

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Instructions

MAKE THE DOUGH

  • The dough went together beautifully. I used Robin Hood Bread flour with a protein percentage of 13% according to Customer Service. It was everything dough should be: incredibly soft and pliable.

MAKE THE BUTTER SQUARE

  • Living in Canada, the land of a highly regulated dairy industry, high butterfat butter is not as easy to find, even living in Montreal. In the end, I purchased an 82% French butter (at a nominal charge of $15.95 for 250 grams!!!). Needless to say, it was beautiful and performed perfectly. After shaping the butter square with the palms of my hands, the temperature naturally came to 68 degrees.

MAKE THE DOUGH PACKAGE

  • I’ve made puff pastry several times before, so this step was familiar to me. The dough package went together very nicely.
Preparing to make the dough package.
Preparing to make the dough package.

MAKE THE FIRST TURN

  • As I said earlier, the dough was incredible to work with. Since the butter and dough were virtually the same temperature, the two combined easily. There was almost no need for the rolling pin. Once I got it started, my hands moved the dough to the correct size. The dough didn’t blister, but the butter poked through just along the edge. Covering it with flour made it disappear.
Rolling out the dough for the first turn.
Rolling out the dough for the first turn.
  • The feel of the dough and butter in my hands was very beautiful. It folded easily, and went into the fridge without a complaint.
The dough was beautiful. This was the first turn.
The dough was beautiful. This was the first turn.

MAKE THE THIRD TURN

  • At about the third turn, I started to feel uncomfortable. I was concerned the butter hadn’t properly incorporated into the flour because I noticed several small squares of butter in the dough (visible in the picture below). Also, as the sugar absorbed the moisture from the dough, it became sticky and syrupy. Still I was surprised at how much sugar was absorbed.
Working with the sugar in the third turn.
Working with the sugar in the third turn.

ROLL AND SHAPE THE DOUGH

  • After sitting in the freezer and refrigerator, the dough was really sticky and uncomfortable to work with. As it began to warm up, I was nervous that I was moving too slow. Rose didn’t indicate whether the dough, at this point, needed to be kept cold. Again, I was noticing the pieces of butter in the dough that hadn’t incorporated. I motored on anyway, working as fast as possible. Below is a picture of how everything was looking.
Rolling and shaping the dough.
Rolling and shaping the dough.
  • Fortunately, I have an oven with a defrost setting which gave me a temperature of 75 degrees. I was extra nervous about high temps because I didn’t want the butter to leak out of the dough, so I laid a probe onto the tray to double check. Just as Rose explained, the dough filled up the rings and expanded nicely.

BAKE THE KOUIGANS

  • OMG. The moment of truth. I was a nervous Nelly, turning the oven light on and off. The dough was releasing a lot of butter, but I later noticed that there was just as much sugar too. I left them in the oven a few minutes longer to ensure the internal temperature come up to 215 degrees. I kept thinking of the butter squares in the dough. I finally took them out of the oven. I thought they looked great.
Just out of the oven.
Just out of the oven.
  • I have never tasted anything more delicious. Wow, wow, wow. It’s amazing what butter, flour, salt, yeast and sugar can become. This is reason why I bake. And the success I had with this recipe is why I am so devoted to Rose. She is an absolute Godess.
Baked and ready to eat.
Baked and ready to eat.
  • Only one of the Kouigns didn’t bake well. It oozed butter when it was cut open. I suppose it was one of those butter squares? Or maybe it would have resolved with more time in the oven? Does anyone know?
The only Kouigan that didn’t bake all the way through. Sniff.
The only Kouigan that didn’t bake all the way through. Sniff.

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