Classic Kouign-Amann Recipe (2024)

Recipe from Nicolas Henry

Adapted by Yewande Komolafe

Classic Kouign-Amann Recipe (1)

Total Time
3 hours, plus at least 5 hours’ rising and 30 minutes’ resting
Read community notes

A yeast-risen pastry with soft layers, deep buttery flavor and a chewy, caramelized top, this recipe, adapted from Nicolas Henry of the Montreal patisserie Au Kouign-Amann, celebrates the classic Breton kouign-amann, traditionally made as a round skillet cake and served as slices. There’s no shortcut and no substitute for the repetition needed to perfect this pastry. But you are in good hands: The process is a series of simple steps, with plenty of opportunities to make ahead. And the results of your efforts are sure to please, whether it accompanies your morning coffee, serves as a delightful afternoon snack or stunningly ends a meal. You’ll need an oven-safe nonstick skillet for this cake. A cast-iron skillet will work, but will produce a deeper, more caramelized result. —Yewande Komolafe

Featured in: The Many Lessons of Kouign-Amann

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Yield:1 (12-inch) kouign-amann

    For the Dough

    • 1⅓cups/320 grams warm water (110 degrees)
    • 3(¼-ounce) packets/21 grams instant dry yeast
    • cups/495 grams all-purpose flour, plus more for work surface
    • teaspoons fine salt (such as Morton’s table salt), plus more for sprinkling
    • ¼cup/60 grams unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus more for greasing the pan
    • 2teaspoons toasted sesame oil (optional)

    For the Butter

    • cups/395 grams unsalted butter, at room temperature
    • cups/250 grams granulated sugar
    • 1teaspoon fine salt (such as Morton’s table salt)

    For the Syrup

    • ½cup/100 grams granulated sugar
    • 1tablespoon orange zest
    • ½teaspoon ground cinnamon
    • ½teaspoon ground ginger
    • 2 to 3cardamom pods, crushed
    • 2 to 3whole cloves, crushed

Ingredient Substitution Guide


Make the recipe with us

  1. Step


    Make the dough: In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook, add the warm water and sprinkle in the yeast. Add 2 tablespoons/15 grams flour from the measured amount and stir to combine. Let stand until foamy, about 6 minutes.

  2. Step


    Add the remaining flour and the salt, and, using a wooden spoon or spatula, stir the mixture just until it forms a shaggy dough. Add the butter and sesame oil (if using), and turn the mixer to the lowest speed. Mix, scraping down the dough hook as needed, until the dough is smooth and elastic, 5 minutes. Transfer the dough to a bowl or freezer bag. Cover or seal and transfer to the refrigerator. Allow the dough to slowly rise until doubled in size, 5 hours and up to 12.

  3. Step


    While the dough rises, prepare the butter for lamination: In the bowl of the stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix the butter, sugar and salt on low speed until incorporated, about 3 minutes. Transfer the butter mixture to a sheet of parchment paper and, using an offset or rubber spatula, spread into a 10-inch round. Cover with another sheet of parchment, wrap and transfer to the refrigerator to chill while the dough rises.

  4. Step


    Make the syrup: In a small pot over low heat, combine the sugar, ½ cup/110 grams water, orange zest, cinnamon, ginger, cardamom and cloves. Bring to a gentle simmer and cook for 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and allow to cool completely while the spices steep and infuse the syrup. Strain out the solids before use. At this point, the syrup can be refrigerated for up to 1 week.

  5. Step


    Generously butter the bottom and sides of the inside of a 12-inch ovenproof nonstick skillet. Ladle 2 tablespoons/40 grams cooled syrup onto the bottom of the pan and swirl.

  6. About 15 minutes before you’re ready to start rolling your dough, remove the butter round from the refrigerator. Transfer the dough from the refrigerator to a lightly floured work surface. Flour the top and use a rolling pin to roll the dough into a 12-inch round.

  7. Step


    Unwrap the butter round and center it on the dough round. Fold 2 sides of the dough, along with the butter over itself so the dough meets in the center of the butter layer. Using your fingers, tap down lightly on the folded edges, just enough to adhere the dough to the butter. Fold the remaining 2 sides so they meet in the center, sealing the butter like an envelope. Press down on the folded edges again to adhere. At this point, you should have what looks like an 8-inch-square dough package.

  8. Step


    Flour the work surface beneath the dough, and lightly flour the top of the dough. Roll the dough out into a 12-by-18-inch rectangle.

  9. Step


    Fold the top short side of the dough a third of the way down the length of the dough. Fold the bottom of the dough up and over the remaining two-thirds of the dough so the short sides meet. Using your fingers, tap the folded edge just enough so it adheres. This is the first fold.

  10. Step


    Turn the dough so that the short sides are parallel to you. Lightly flour the surface and top of the dough again. Roll the dough into a 12-by-18-inch rectangle. Fold the top short side of the dough one-third of the way down the length of the dough. Fold the bottom of the dough up and over the remaining two-thirds of the dough so the short sides meet. Using your fingers, tap the folded edge just enough so it adheres. This is the second fold. Return the folded dough, wrapped in a sheet of parchment, to chill in the refrigerator for 10 minutes if you find the butter is beginning to melt between steps.

  11. Step


    Turn the dough so that the short sides are parallel to you. Roll the dough out into a 14-inch square. Fold the edges on the top half of the dough over in such a way that the top 2 corners meet in the center of the dough, forming what looks like a triangle at the top. Fold the bottom in such a way that the 2 corners meet in the middle. You should have a square dough with a cross cutting through the center to the edges. Roll it into a 14-inch square.

  12. Step


    Lift and pull the corners in to round out the edges. Flip the dough so that the cross side is down. Pat the dough down to even out the round shape, you should have a roughly 12-inch circle at this point. Using your hand to support the bottom, transfer the dough cross-side down to the prepared skillet. Using the tip of a paring knife, poke holes, 1-inch apart, all around the dough. Ladle 2 tablespoons/40 grams of syrup over the top and spread across the surface of the dough using your fingers. Cover with a clean kitchen towel and allow to rest at room temperature until the surface springs back slightly when you press it with a finger, about 30 minutes.

  13. Step


    Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Dimple the dough by pressing down all over the surface with your fingers. Bake until light golden brown, 45 minutes.

  14. Step


    Flip the kouign-amann onto a board or the underside of a baking sheet without a lip. Pour 2 tablespoons/40 grams syrup over the bottom of the skillet and slide the kouign-amann back into the pan, cross side up. Brush some syrup over the top, sprinkle with a pinch of fine salt and return to the oven. Bake until you can hear the butter bubbling at the edges and the surface is golden brown, 20 to 25 minutes. Remove from the oven and let sit in the pan for 5 minutes. Run an offset spatula or a knife along the edges to release them. Set a baking rack in a baking sheet, and flip the kouign-amann onto it, brush with the remaining syrup, sprinkle the top with a pinch of fine salt, and allow to cool slightly. Slide to a serving platter with the cross side down.

  15. Step


    Serve the kouign-amann in wedges while still warm. Use an offset spatula or a knife along the bottom of the pastry to release and lift each wedge from the plate. The kouign-amann will last, wrapped, at room temperature, for 1 to 2 days, or frozen for up to 2 weeks. Toast slices in a 400-degree oven for a few minutes before serving.



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Cooking Notes


A question more than a note. Why the sesame oil? I realize it's optional but it is such a distinctive flavor, and so fundamentally different than the flavors of the pastry, that I wondered if it provides a deepening of the more traditional flavors. Perhaps it provides the umami that is sought so often? Just curious. Thanks.


“ A cast-iron skillet will work, but will produce a deeper, more caramelized result. “

Sylvain Grignon

because it's an inscribed square. Its diagonal is indeed the circle's diameter (12 in) ; as per Pythagorus, the sides (S) are such that (12)exp2 = 2(S)exp2, or S = 8.48528137424 (not sure you can go to the 10th decimal with a square of dough (; )) so 8.5ish. Sorry for mixing geometry and pastry.


There is a video for this on YouTube:


There is a 13 minute video attached with the article "The many lessons of kouign-amann".


Thank you. Baking this cake has been on my to-list for many years, but it is "no small feat," as you admit. and requires lots of butter. These clear and detailed instructions have nudged me to start the butter cake journey.


From the TasteAtlas: “Although traditionally a large, round pastry, kouign-amann is also often prepared as individual, cupcake-sized pastries. Additionally, it can also be enriched with different spices and fruits. Savory types of kouign-amann can also be prepared.”


I have been to this patisserie many times when I used to work in Montreal and I can attest there is NOTHING like this cake- it’s divine. THANK YOU for sharing this recipe, I have been trying to replicate for years!!! I’m so happy to see this delightful spot get some recognition.


Ever since visiting Au Kouign Amann in Montreal, several years ago, I have not been able to forget their ethereal Kouign Amann. I also have not been able to come very close to replicating this style of Kouign Amann. I am, however, 100% sure, that a plain simple syrup is involved, as well as more salt than is called for in other recipes I’ve tried.


So great to see a video! The folding makes more sense now.


I have made croissants and other laminated pastries using vegan butter and the result was great (and much appreciated by my vegan daughter)! I like to use Miyoko's cultured vegan butter in these more "high end" bakes, while I've had great success with Country Crock's plant butter sticks or Melt sticks for cakes, cookies, etc. that I am preparing for vegan family and friends.


It should actually be a little over 9 inches. The diagonal of the inscribing square is equal to the diameter of the circle. A 12-inch diameter of a square means that the hypotenuse of the two right triangles is 12. a^2 + b^2 = c^2... thus 9.05^2 + 9.05^2 = 12^2. So, each site is 9.05 inches. I suppose the loss of an inch is more due to the folding.


Writing from Brittany, where Kouign Amann hails from. The NYT recipe is probably delicious, I'm just adding a few comments as a Breton raised on traditional Kouign Amann. We ONLY ever use salted butter for any dish that requires butter. Kouign aman is basically bread dough with crazy amounts of butter folded in. No syrup, no zests, no ginger, cinnamon, cloves, and absolutely no sesame oil of any kind. Also, I've never heard of home baked kouign amann, everybody buys theirs from the bakery!


She explains her use of the sesame oil in the video, and the video was well worth watching.

Marc Kagan

I don't understand how you can start with a 12-inch circle, fold all sides into the center and have "an 8-inch-square dough package." Why wouldn't it be a 6-inch square?


I left the dough in the fridge overnight and into the morning, and it rose for about 16+ hours before I got to rolling it out. Nothing bad happened!


Can the dough rise overnight or will it over proof? Says up to 12 hours but what if it rises too much. Would like to make it for Christmas morning.


Is there any possible way to make this without the flipping step?

el Hefa

If your pan has a plastic handle,you can wrap it in several layers of foil to protect it. Or purchase a silicone sleeve for the handle, at a cooking store, or google ….

Nope, no sesame oil for me. It’s too strong and it’s not at all traditional. I don’t think it will enhance the flavor of the butter which should be the star.

Joan P

This was fairly easy to do and sooooo delicious!


Can the dough be left in the fridge for more than 12 hours?


I am hugely disappointed with this recipe. I made numerous mille feuilles (Croissants, demanding as well) recipes - also from NYTimes - which worked out fine. But here, during laminating, water begin to seep out the layers of dough and it all fell apart, big flakes of dough coming off. I’ve never had that before. I guess it’s the sugar in the butter which changes the texture. Especially frustrating bec wasting expensive ingredients. I’m baking now as it is, but this can’t be used for guests.


I'd never had this, but wanted to give it a try. Lots of compliments from others, many of whom had had this dessert in the past. I say, don't be too nervous or judgmental about the sesame oil. You probably won't even notice it unless you are looking for it. It does seem to add a certain sumpin' special, though I suspect your audience will never guess your "secret ingredient".


Can I refrigerate the dough longer? Like a day before?


Tastes great, but not worth the time I needed to spend deep-cleaning half my kitchen after the disastrous mid-bake flip splashed buttery syrup all over everything, including me. There has to be a way to do this without the syrup, or at least without the flip, which is pretty darn hazardous.

Mary Thorpe

This was a fascinating recipe. I hadn’t done a laminated dough in ages, and the process was well described in writing and in the video. The result was lovely, but I’m left wondering if I would invest the amount of time it takes again. Ah well, it was a treat, and the accompanying story was powerful. By the way, the sesame oil was brilliant. The flavor didn’t dominate as I feared, instead intensifying the brown butter aroma.


This recipe sounds divine! Any tips for high altitude bakers? Recently moved to the Mile High city (5280ft) and all my sea level pastry and baked goods recipes are coming out wonky.


I've been cooking and baking for years and this is one of the most satisfying things I've made! Two of us worked on it together which made it even more fun and easier to double check the directions. I've never tasted anything like it---and that was the frequent comment of those (few) and special people with whom we were willing to share this delicious treat. It was well worth the time and effort ---it was either that or a trip to that bakery in Montreal!


Delicious! Made exactly as directed in a cast iron skillet (with the toasted sesame oil). Browned just right. Glad there's a video showing how to fold and prepare it. We would make it again.

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Classic Kouign-Amann Recipe (2024)


What is the famous dessert in Brittany France? ›

The kouign-amann is pronounced "queen a-mahn" and is from Brittany, France. It's like a cross between a croissant and a palmier, with layer after layer of buttery, flaky pastry on the inside, yet caramelized with ever-so-slightly-burnt sugar on the outside.

What is the fattiest pastry in the world? ›

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.

What is the Kuen Aman pastry? ›

kouignoù-amann) is a sweet Breton cake made with laminated dough. It is a round multi-layered cake, originally made with bread dough (nowadays sometimes viennoiserie dough), containing layers of butter and incorporated sugar, similar in fashion to puff pastry albeit with fewer layers.

What is the traditional dessert most couples serve in France? ›

A croquembouche (French: [kʁɔ. kɑ̃. buʃ]) or croque-en-bouche is a French dessert consisting of choux pastry puffs piled into a cone and bound with threads of caramel. In Italy and France, it is often served at weddings, baptisms and first communions.

What does kouign mean in French? ›

whose name is also typically Breton, "kouign" meaning cake and "amann" meaning butter. In order to make the most of its soft interior and its crunchy exterior made crunchy by the caramelisation of the sugar, it is advisable to taste the warm kouign-amann with a good glass of chouchen or a few pieces of apple.

What do the French call puff pastry? ›

So where does puff pastry come from. Well it comes from France, where it is called pâte feuilletée. It was invented in 1645 by Claudius Gele, a pastry cook apprentice. He wanted to bake an improved bread for his father who was sick and was on a diet of flour, butter and water.

What is the healthiest pastry? ›

Which pastry is healthier? Pastries made with whole wheat flour and minimal added sugar are the healthiest pastries. You can find whole wheat pastry dough options for both puff pastry and filo pastry, two of the most common pastry dough types.

What pastry is Sweden known for? ›

The Swedish cinnamon roll – Kanelbulle – is probably the most famous of pastries and the most consumed fikabröd in Sweden. People eat kanelbulle all year round but the official day to celebrate this sweet bread is on October 4. Two days later, on October 6, is the time to celebrate another cake.

What is a Brittany pastry? ›

It is made from a bread mixture with added sugar and salted farm butter, repeatedly folded in much the same way as puff pastry. The quality of the salted butter and the resting time of the mixture are key factors in making a successful Kouign-amann.

What French pastry is like a croissant? ›


Often compared to puff pastry, the bread dough uses the same method of folding in layers of butter and sugar. Pronounced qween-ah-mahn, think of this as a denser version of a croissant, only the kouign-amann has that extra step of being dusted with sugar.

What is the traditional dish of Brittany? ›


A galette complête is the traditional dish filled with ham, cheese and and an egg. Rennes also has the galette saucisse - a sausage wrapped in a galette and eaten like a hot dog.

What is the food Speciality of Brittany? ›

The cuisine of Brittany is full-flavored, bringing the outdoors and the sea into the kitchen. It is a fresh mix of mackerel and sardines, pork rillettes and Breton pancakes. Cider and crêpes add a dash of sweetness.

What is Brittany France known for food? ›

The ocean tang of oysters, the succulence of fresh king scallops, the crunchiness of kouign-amann, a heavenly crêpe topped with salted butter caramel, a bowl of sparkling cider, ripe strawberries from Plougastel, full-bodied buckwheat whiskey … these are all among the tastes of Brittany!

What is Brittany France best known for? ›

With over 2,860 km of coastline, including around 800 islands and islets, Brittany is quite a popular seaside holiday destination. Away from the shore, Brittany is a rugged, hilly area. It features several ancient woodlands, including the famous Arthurian Broceliande Forest.


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