Kouign-Amann - Gastro Obscura
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Kouign-Amann

Some Bretons claim that their signature treat is the fattiest pastry in the world.

The French village of Locronan looks much the way it did in the 15th century. Pedestrians wander the cobblestone streets freely, cut off from car traffic, surrounded by granite houses. Situated in France’s northwest region of Brittany, this well-preserved haven houses a bakeshop called Le Guillou. Here, five generations of pastry chefs have crafted kouign-amann, a regional specialty that features croissant dough laminated in salted butter and rolled in sugar. Some Bretons claim that this signature treat (which is pronounced “queen ah-MAHN”), made by artisans across the region, is the fattiest pastry in the world.

Epicure & Culture calls the kouign-amann Brittany’s equivalent to the Paris croissant. Though no one knows who invented the luxurious sweet, it’s suspected to be the outcome of a happy accident within the 19th-century baking community. A pâtissier may have doubled-down on the sugar and butter in an attempt to save a damaged batch of dough. But the resulting effect—a rich density that melts into the pastry’s soft layers and crispy, caramelized edges—doesn’t taste like a mistake. Locals took to the creation and named it after the Breton words for “butter” and “cake.”

In keeping with the croissant, the kouign-amann hasn’t remained confined to its designated place of origin. In recent years, bakeries around the United States have been sweeping customers off their feet by selling kouign-amann filled with everything from chocolate ganache to cinnamon tahini.

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