I love my blog. I love the people that read my blog and comment on my blog. I love you guys. It blows my mind that people from all over the world go out of their way to write a little something sweet on this little space. I was talking about this last night and I couldn't really find the words to describe just how cool I think that is.
I'll admit, this blog is more for me than anyone else. I would bake these things on my weekends even if I didn't have a blog. I probably wouldn't be as adventurous with my baking, though.
I try to keep in my mind that my blog is for me when I'm getting frustrated with styling the props or editing the photos. This is my hobby. I get enjoyment out of this. I don't work hard on this because I want to get comments and attention, I work hard on this because I like working hard on it.
I put my work out here on the big ol' internet in the same way that a kids drawing is put on the fridge. I'm proud of what I've made and yeah, I want to show it off.
But the response that I've received on my blog has just blown me away. It's like having my drawing being put on the fridge and then having my kitchen become an art gallery and people are telling me how great my drawing is and people are showing it to their friends. Like, what?
The coolest thing for me is the comments you guys leave. The little conversations we have, even if it's just asking about where to get a certain ingredient. I've never met you, I've never seen you, I don't really know anything about you, but we now have a little connection. And if you mention that you made one of the recipes that I put up on here - you've made my entire day. I've helped you create something! And hopefully it turned out tasty...
I don't really know how to explain how unbelievably awesome I think those little connections we create by way of this blog are. But just trust me when I say that every single comment makes me smile and makes me feel thankful for the kindness of strangers. The world gets a little bit brighter every time a stranger does something kind for another stranger.
Chocolate Kouign Amann
Recipe adapted from The Kitchn
240 g water, at room temperature
2 teaspoons active dry yeast
343 g all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
226 g cold salted butter, plus a little extra for buttering the pan
300 g granulated sugar
1 tablespoon cinnamon
300 g apples, peeled, cored, cut into 1/4 inch dice
1/2 vanilla bean
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
50 g brown sugar
Combine the water and the yeast in the bowl of a stand mixer and let sit for a few minutes to dissolve and become bubbly. Add 312 g of flour to the bowl (reserving the 21 g) and the salt and spices to the bowl. Stir with a wooden spoon until a floury, shaggy dough is formed.
Fit the mixer with a dough hook and knead the dough at low speed for 3 to 4 minutes, until the dough is slightly tacky but smooth. If the dough sticks to the sides of the bow, add 1 tablespoon of flour at a time and knead until the dough is smooth. If the dough feels very stiff and dry, add 1 tablespoon of water at a time and knead until the dough is smooth.
Cover the mixing bowl with a kitchen towel and let the dough rise for one hour, until doubled in size.
Once the dough has doubled in bulk, place it in the fridge to chill for at least 30 minutes or as long as overnight. Chilling the dough makes it easier to roll out and prevents the butter from melting in the following steps.
While the dough is chilling, begin pounding the butter. This softens the butter enough to roll it out with the dough while keeping it chilled.
Lightly dust your work surface with flour and lay the butter on top and dust with about a tablespoon of flour. Gently begin to tap the top of the butter with your rolling pin, and then pound more forcefully once the flour sticks to the butter.
Continue pounding the butter until supple. Pound it flat, then fold it in half using a pastry scraper. Pound it flat, then fold in half again. Repeat two more times, until the butter is supple, flattens within a few hits of the rolling pin, and folds easily. Sprinkle with additional flour as necessary to prevent the butter form sticking or smearing on the counter or rolling pin.
Pound the butter into a 6 by 10 inch rectangle, keeping the edges straight and even. Transfer to a baking sheet and refrigerate while you roll out the dough. Do not refrigerate the butter for longer than 15 minutes or you will need to pound it out again.
Dust your work surface with flour and transfer the dough onto it. Roll the dough to a 12 by 20 inch rectangle, keeping the edges straight and the corners sharp, not rounded. If you have a pastry brush, use it to brush off excess flour before completing the turns.
Remove the butter from the fridge and transfer it to the middle of the dough. Fold one half of the dough over the butter and fold the other half on top, like folding a letter. Roll it out slightly to press the layers together, then fold it again into thirds.
To do the first turn, rotate the dough so the narrow open end is facing you. Roll the dough out to a 12 by 20 inch rectangle, keeping the edges straight and the corners sharp, not rounded. Fold the top third down and the bottom third up and over, like folding a letter.
Rotate the dough 90 degrees so the open end is facing you. Do a second turn.
If at any point, the dough is warming too much and the butter is melting into the dough, refrigerate the dough for about 10 minutes, then continue working.
After the first two turns, transfer the dough to a parchment lined baking sheet, wrap tightly in plastic wrap, refrigerate the dough for 30 minutes. Do not refrigerate it more than that or your butter will become too cold and will shatter instead of spread.
Combine the 300 g of sugar and 1 tablespoon of cinnamon and whisk to combine.
Remove the dough from the fridge and transfer to a lightly floured work surface. With the open end facing you, roll out the dough to a 12 by 20 inch rectangle, keeping the edges straight and the corners sharp, not rounded. Sprinkle evenly with 150 g of cinnamon sugar and press lightly with a rolling pin to help it stick. Fold the top third down and the bottom third up, thus completing a third turn
Rotate the dough 90 degrees so that the open end is facing you. Roll out to a 12 by 20 rectangle, keeping the edges straight and the corners sharp, not rounded. Sprinkle evenly with 150 g of cinnamon sugar and press lightly with a rolling pin to help it stick. Fold the top third down and the bottom third up, thus completing the fourth and final turn.
Transfer the dough to the parchment lined baking sheet, wrap tightly with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Combine the diced apples, cinnamon, nutmeg, seeds from half the vanilla bean, and brown sugar. Toss to combine.
Prepare a muffin tin by generously coating with butter. Liberally butter the sides and especially the bottom. Set aside.
Clean your work surface completely. Sprinkle the work surface with cinnamon sugar, remove the dough from the fridge, and transfer it to your work surface. Sprinkle additional sugar on the top of the dough. Roll out the dough to an 8 by 24 inch rectangle, keeping the edges straight and the corners sharp, not rounded.
With a ruler, cut the dough lengthwise, creating two strips 4 inches wide by 24 inches long. Cut each strip into 4 inch wide and 4 inch long squares, creating 12 squares in total.
Place about 35 g of diced apples in the middle of each square. Pick up the dough by the corners and gently lower it into the muffin pan. Fold the corners into centre and press down lightly to make sure they do not open while baking. Repeat with the remaining kouign amann.
Cover the kouign amann loosely with plastic wrap and let them rise until slightly puffy, 30 to 40 minutes.
Preheat your oven to 400 F. Set the muffin tin on a baking sheet to catch any butter drips during baking. Place the kouign amann in the oven and immediately turn down the heat to 350. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes, rotating the pan half through baking. They are finished when the tops are deep golden.
Transfer the kougin amann to a cooling rack and let the pastries stand until they are just cool enough to handle. Gently wiggle them out of the muffin tins and set them on a cooling rack to finish cooling completely. Note: When I set them on the cooling rack, I set them upside down so the stick caramelly bottoms wouldn't stick to the cooling rack. Beware of hot apple-y juices! Do not let the kouign amann cool completely in the pan or the caramelized sugar at the bottom will harden and make the pastries impossible to remove.
Kouign amann should be served as soon as they are cool enough to handle and best served the day they are made.