It’s been called “gold in butter.” Yann Queffélec, French author and winner of the prestigious Prix Goncourt, described it as “heavy, glazed, sublime, and melting.” As told to Slate, “There is as much butter as sugar in it.”
It’s the kouign-amann (that’s kween a-mahn)—or “butter cake” in Breton, the Celtic language that’s native to Brittany and includes fairytale names like Gwenaëlle (girl) and Gwendal (boy). Think of the pastry as a sugary, caramelized croissant, crispy on the outside and densely moist inside; the bread-y version of canelés; a sophisticated muffin.
My fellow Americans, I know we know a lot about pie. We take pride in being as American as the apple pies we bake for any and every occasion. We’ve got pie traditions galore at our favorite holidays. And here at Food52, we even dedicate a week in the fall to the flaky dessert. (Plus, who are we kidding? Many, many other days throughout the year. Pie is just the greatest). But, across the pond, they make just as many pies, often utilizing a crust we’ve been slow to adopt stateside: the elusive hot water crust pastry.
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There’s a reason the Brits love hot water crust pastry. This dough has so many checks in its “pro” column. It’s a serious wonder why it’s taken us so long to jump on the bandwagon. How water crust is crazy crispy, but still manages to have great flavor. But most of all, it’s super sturdy. This crust does for pies what gingerbread does for holiday houses: It stays put, and holds up incredibly well. That means you can tackle that old fashioned pork pie recipe, go deep dish without fear, or just fill it to the brim with anything—even heavy and/or wet fillings without worry!
There are a few ingredients that improve just about any dish you add them to: Truffle Oil Caramelized Onions Olives Roasted Red Peppers Basil Unfortunately, this Caramelized Onion & Eggplant Puff Pastry Tart does not have truffle oil. (Although I suppose if you really wanted to, you could add some. I mean, it’s a free country, right? Do what you want!) But! It does have caramelized onions, olives, roasted red peppers, and basil. It’s a veritable quadrifecta of deliciousness. After I made this Leek & Olive Tart from Rikki Snyder’s food photography blog, I had a leftover puff pastry sheet sitting in the freezer, just begging to be made into something awesome. My little finger eggplants have been producing like crazy, so I roasted two of those, along with a small rosa blanca eggplant from the farmers market, as a topping. Everything else was simply what I had in the refrigerator that needed to be used. With a thrown-together recipe like this, there’s usually a high failure rate (at least in my kitchen, there is), so I piled on the toppings and crossed my fingers. I try hard to make most of my recipes really easy, but this one does […]
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