The Best Kouign Amann I Ever Ate

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Kouign amann is the perfect pastry experience: a slice of buttery, flaky, caramel-y, bread-y, layered deliciousness.
Posted November 5, 2019 by Stephanie

The best kougin amann i ever ate: a slice of buttery, flaky, caramel-y, bread-y, layered deliciousness. #pastry #bestever #kouignamann #montreal

The best kougin amann i ever ate: a slice of buttery, flaky, caramel-y, bread-y, layered deliciousness. #pastry #bestever #kouignamann #montreal

The best kougin amann i ever ate: a slice of buttery, flaky, caramel-y, bread-y, layered deliciousness. #pastry #bestever #kouignamann #montreal

The best kougin amann i ever ate: a slice of buttery, flaky, caramel-y, bread-y, layered deliciousness. #pastry #bestever #kouignamann #montreal

If you’re into pastry (especially french pastries), then I’m sure you’ve heard of kouign amann. I wish more people knew what they were because I think kouign amann is the most underrated pastry out there. Those in the know, know, of course, but most people have never heard of kouign amann, let alone know how to pronounce it (it’s kween ah-mon). You can find them at some high-end bakeries, or you could go to Brittany, the home and birthplace of this particular French viennoiserie. Or…you could skip the intercontinental flight and just go to Montreal, Canada.

But let’s back up a bit and go back to: what exactly is a kouign amann? You could think of it like a butter cake, which is what kougin aman translates to in the Breton language, but butter cake doesn’t really begin to describe what a kouign amann is. Kouign amann is almost like a denser, breadier croissant with less layers and more butter and sugar. Like a croissant, it’s made with laminated dough, but the layers aren’t rolled out as thinly and there’s a genius generous amount of sugar tucked in with the butter in between the layers. The classic shape is a giant disk and all the folds and pockets of butter and sugar come together to create a soft, moist custardy center. The outsides, which are finished with butter and sugar as well, come out of the oven as a crisp burnished caramel layer.

Last month I tasted the best kougin amann in my life. We were in Montreal (to eat poutine and other lovely things) and apparently, Montreal is known for kougin amann. I’ve eaten one or two kouign amann in my life but I’ve never exactly been wowed by them. That’s why when Mike told me that we were visiting a bakery known specifically for kouign amann, I was excited (because I’m obsessed with places that specialize in one item – give me a tightly focused singular dish restaurant and I’m there!) but not overly so. I went in with no expectations, which is the best way to go into anything.

The best kougin amann i ever ate: a slice of buttery, flaky, caramel-y, bread-y, layered deliciousness. #pastry #bestever #kouignamann #montreal

The kouign amann were set out in the case, giant golden disks about the size of a large pizza cut into sizable wedges. Mike ordered because when I tried, my non-existent French wasn’t understandable. We ended up with two slices on two oval melamine plates, with steak knifes and forks to go with.

I’m not exaggerating when I say that the first bite was life changing. I cut into the tip of the wedge and butter literally started oozing out. I’ve never had a juicy viennoiserie before, but this was juicy. Juicy, buttery layers of sweet dough with a custardy, creamy center encased with a delicately crunchy caramelized crust.

The best kougin amann i ever ate: a slice of buttery, flaky, caramel-y, bread-y, layered deliciousness. #pastry #bestever #kouignamann #montreal

It was the best kouign amann I’ve ever had the pleasure of eating. All the other kouign amann I’ve eaten are pale ghostlike representations. Before Pâtisserie au Kouign Amann, I never knew that kouign amann came in giant disks; the ones that I’d been eating were individual hockey puck sized. Instead, the kouign amann at Pâtisserie au Kouign Amann are sold in wedges cut out of giant round cakes, just the way they do it in Brittany. There’s definitely something about that classic large round: the layers of dough are thicker and plush with butter and the edges are caramelized just enough to stick to your back teeth in the most gentle way. That first bite was so good I immediately wanted another piece even though I wasn’t even close to being finished.

To be honest, I have no idea why kouign amann aren’t more popular, even at Pâtisserie au Kouign Amann where they’re known for kouign amann. While I was having my Kantaro-like epiphany, we watched as people (tourists and locals alike) lined up and ordered order after order of things that weren’t kouign amann: croissants, chocolatine, fruit tarts, croque monsieur, even quiche! I mean, we were literally in a place named after kouign amann! How could you not?! And at only 2 dollars and change for a slice?! I almost wanted to do a public service announcement and tell everyone to order the kouign amann.

It was one of the best things I ever ate times five because that’s how many times we went back to the cafe before we left Montreal. Hilariously, we once tried to order three slices because one each just wasn’t cutting it; the nice lady behind the counter nodded, then handed over two. I furtively asked Mike what happened. “Did she not understand you?” Mike said that she did understand him and besides the point, he held up 3 fingers and she held up 3 fingers in response. “Plus, I speak French, I know she understood me.” We never did figure out why we didn’t get 3 slices. Maybe it’s because the best experiences leave you wanting more…

Until next time Montreal, I’ll be dreaming kouign amann dreams.

The best kougin amann i ever ate: a slice of buttery, flaky, caramel-y, bread-y, layered deliciousness. #pastry #bestever #kouignamann #montreal

5 Comments

  1. dan says:

    Next time you’re in town I will take you on a kouign amann tour ;) (Not that it looks like you need help, really, so who would I be doing this for, exactly? 🤔🤭 haha)

    1. Stephanie says:

      omg, let’s buy a whole one next time and feast!!!

  2. Devin says:

    I totally missed this last time I was in Montreal! But I love the mental image of a Kantaro epiphany—only crisp, buttery, pastry flakes instead of corn syrup.

    Kouign-amann is growing in popularity and a lot of small patisseries are starting to pick it up. I prefer the pucks, but agree the large gallettes are a pretty special treat! Hope you find more soon!

  3. john A Hodgson says:

    What is the address of this fabulous Patisserie in Montreal I want to come up

    1. Stephanie says:

      it’s called Pâtisserie au Kouign Amann!

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