After it featured on The Great British Bake Off last year, the kouign amman had a moment in the UK, but the delicious Breton pastry can be found in bakeries all over Brittany
The Breton speciality kouign amman (pronounced queen-amahn) had a brief spell as the most talked-about pastry on the block last September after it featured as a challenge in The Great British Bake Off, but the speciality has been enjoyed in Brittany for generations and is available in most good local bakeries.
A kouign amman is an enriched bread dough layered (or laminated) like a croissant, with salted Breton butter and sugar that’s baked until well-caramelised. It’s traditionally served as a Sunday lunch dessert or as a sweet afternoon treat, perhaps with a glass of local cider. One of the best is made by Joel Barbier, whose boulangerie is at 35 quai Voiliers in the village of Port du Crouesty, on Brittany’s south coast.
Salted Breton butter is also one of the key ingredients in quatre-quarts, a darkly caramelised sponge cake made from equal parts of four ingredients (hence the name): salted butter, flour, sugar and eggs. Again, most good bakers have their version, but a stand-out example can be found at Le Brun, 9 rue Saint-Vincent in nearby Vannes.
This bakery prides itself on its specialities and has won prizes for both its kouign amman and its far breton. The latter is a thick set custard made with flour, eggs and whole milk. There are also versions with a touch of rum and with soft prunes in the custard. Far is often made at home either as a pudding or sometimes as a savoury version, which is cooked in a cloth bag in a pot au feu and then broken up into the cooking liquid as a substitute for dumplings or potatoes.
Richard Bertinet is owner-baker of the Bertinet Kitchen cookery school, Bath
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