French cooking Brittany

Butter, sugar ... Kouign Amann, that fabulous dessert from Brittany

Kouign amann, a Breton speciality, is pronounced kouign amann in Breton and the translation simply reveals the recipe: kouign is cake, amann is butter, so it's a butter cake, and it's the least we can say about what the New York Times described in 2011 as "the greasiest pastry in Europe". It's greasy, to be sure, but it's also delicious, as evidenced by the fact that another American media outlet has placed it in the top 40 best dishes of all time.


Where does kouign Amann come from?


From Brittany, that's for sure! It's one of the region's great specialities (along with salted butter, salted butter toffee, crêpes, etc.). What's more confusing is its origins: it's said that it was a baker from Douarnenez, Yves René Scordia, who came up with the idea in 1860. Overwhelmed by customers, short of flour but with an impressive quantity of butter, he had the idea of mixing the little flour with too much butter and sugar, and called the whole thing a butter cake: kouign mann.It sounds simple enough, just flour and butter, but the Bretons will tell you that "le fait qui veut, le réussi qui peut" (what goes around comes around), so there's a helping hand to be had. Anyway, I nicked the recipe from my Breton aunt Marie-Annick, so I hope she won't mind me sharing the secret with you!


Recipe for Kouign Amann




  • 250 grams of flour
  • 200 grams of butter
  • 200 grams of sugar
  • 10 grams fresh baker's yeast (never use baking powder)
  • 10 Cl hot water
  • 2 pinches of salt.


The process


Before you start, take out the butter: it needs to soften before you can make the cake.


Du beurre, du sucre, de la farine.. Juste trois ingrédients, et pourtant ça n'est pas simple à faire du Kouign Amann. Photo choisie par : Depositphotos.

Butter, sugar and flour... Just three ingredients, and yet it's not easy to make Kouign Amann. Photo chosen by Depositphotos.


First prepare the dough:


  1. Mix the yeast and warm water in a cup,
  2. Mix the flour and salt in a bowl,
  3. Make a well and mix the flour with the yeast and water.
  4. Work your dough well, it should be supple.
  5. Leave it to rest for a good 3 hours (it should double in volume)


Then make the kouign Amann


  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C (gas mark 6-7).
  2. Roll out the pastry into a 1 cm thick rectangle.
  3. Mix the 200 grams of soft butter with the 200 grams of sugar. It must be soft and smooth.
  4. Add the butter and sugar mixture (up to about 3 cm from the edge of the rectangle).
  5. Sprinkle with caster sugar.
  6. Fold the pastry in 3 lengthways
  7. Fold the pastry in 3 widthways (a bit like puff pastry after all).
  8. Roll with a rolling pin
  9. Brush on more butter and sprinkle with sugar.
  10. Fold the pastry lengthways into 3 again.
  11. Fold the pastry widthways into 3.
  12. Put the mixture into a well-buttered mould (this is Brittany, you need butter!).
  13. Scarify
  14. Bake at Thermostat 7 (180 °C) for just over 30 minutes



Enjoy it warm the same day, with a good glass of cider - it's just delicious (and it's not light at all - forget the diet!).

Jérôme Prod'homme

Jérôme Prod'homme

Jérôme is "monsieur de France" the author of this site.