Apple, Fennel & Rose Kouign Amann

Classic French viennoiserie with a toffee apple twist

It was the hottest day of the year here in the UK yesterday - and I was out having meetings, fully suited up, sweating like a pig being eyed up by Mr. Koffman.

Strangely, we're supposed to be on our way to the Autumn equinox ... tell that to my apple trees, who's fruit should be ready for picking, but so many have spoiled in the heat.

Nonetheless, I've managed to grab as many as I could and have begun my yearly apple assault in the kitchen.

I made Heston Blumenthal's delicious "Taffety Tart" last weekend, and it gave me an idea - why not add the same apple, rose and fennel combination to something else.

Kouign Amann is a yeasted, butterry viennoiserie from Brittany made popular by GBBO a few years ago. The addition of thin apple slices and rose petals to the inside, with fennel seeds on the base gives the pastry an autumnal twist, caramelising the apples with a toffee-like flavour. I've used Bramley apples as I've got a ton of them - but also because they serve to cut through the sugar a little. I'm also resting the dough in the fridge overnight as is often the case with Croissants, which helps make them taste even better.

You're supposed to let them come to room temperature before eating - I challenge you that this is impossible after the smell fills your house.

Ingredients (makes 8 to 10 Kouign Amanns)

For the pastry

  • 500g strong white flour
  • 50g golden caster sugar
  • 14g fast action yeast
  • 200g room temperature water (~25°C)
  • 50g room temperature milk (~25°C)
  • 10g salt
  • 100g unsalted butter - for the mix
  • 250g unsalted butter - for the butter layer

For the apple puree

  • 3 Bramley apples
  • 50g golden caster sugar
  • 100g water

For the roll in

  • 100g golden caster sugar
  • 3 Bramley apples
  • 60g caster sugar
  • 5g rose petals

For baking

  • 100g golden caster sugar
  • 25g unsalted butter
  • 10g fennel seeds

Equipment required

  • 10cm, 4cm tall tart rings
  • Stand mixer
  • Silicone mat

Make the dough

Mix the water, milk and sugar together then dissolve the yeast into this. Leave to stand for about 10 minutes until bubbly.

Place your 500g of flour in the bowl of a stand mixer, and attach your dough hook. Pour in the yeast mix, and let it start running on a low speed until combined.

Slowly add the chopped butter, piece by piece followed by the salt. Keep it kneading for 8 minutes.

When it's ready, place into a clean, buttered bowl and cover with cling film. Let this stand until doubled in size - which will probably take 1 to 2 hours depending on your temperature or whether you put it into your proofing box.

Once it's ready, deflate the dough and flatten it into a rough rectangle. Cover it in cling film again, then place in the freezer for 30 minutes.

In the meantime, make your block of butter. Place a sheet of cling film on your work surface, then put your remaining 250g of butter (i.e. a pack!) in the middle. Cover with a second piece of cling film.

Begin to tap the butter with your rolling pin so that it softens. Eventually it will become pliable enough to roll into as perfect a square as you can. Use your hands on the upper piece of cling to straighten the edges if you need to. When you're happy with the block, place it into the freezer too.

Roll in the butter

This next stage requires you to be reasonably precise with your rolling. What we're trying to do is keep the edges as straight as possible, and also to make the butter come up right to the edge - which means there won't be any part of our pastry without butter. These butterless points can create pockets which don't rise as well, so it's worth taking a time over this bit.

Roll out the now cold dough to as close as double the size of your butter block as you can get. If the edges aren't straight, try to re-form them with your hand or if you don't mind losing a bit of dough you can cut them off.

Remove the block of butter from the freezer, and take off the cling. Position it at the bottom half of your dough rectangle, then fold the top half over the top so that it's sandwiched in-between.

At this point, it should still be cold enough that the butter doesn't start squeezing out. Press down on the end of it do seal, then make a quarter turn with the dough (i.e. if the two ends of the pastry were facing you, turn it 90° so they move to being at a right angle to you).

Carefully roll the dough, in your body's direction, into a large rectangle about the length you made it when you were first inserting the butter block. Fold the dough, taking the furthest part away from you, and fold that 2/3 of the way back past the centre, then fold the remaining 1/3 back over the top of that (meaning you'll have 3 1/3 layers). This is turn one.

Wrap it back up in cling film, then return to the freezer for 30 minutes.

When time's up, repeat the fold process by placing the dough in front of you, with the seam you made in the last fold at a quarter turn away from you. Roll it out into a rectangle again, then perform the same 2/3 and 1/3 roll you made before. You've now made turn two.

Wrap it in cling - but this time place in the fridge and leave overnight to develop the flavours.

Make the apple puree

Peel and core the apples, then roughly chop. Place the water and sugar in a heavy based saucepan and add the apples.

Let the apples simmer until they're really soft, then use a hand blender or food processor to blend them into a puree. Leave to cool then set aside.

Build the roll in

Core and peel your remaining 3 apples. Cut in half, then Slice as thinly as you can (and I mean really thin!) - or use a mandolin if you have one.

Take the dough out of the fridge and now we'll make one last turn. Repeat the fold process by placing the dough in front of you, with the seam you made in the last fold at a quarter turn away from you. Roll it out into a rectangle again, then perform the same 2/3 and 1/3 roll you made before.

At this point it's worth cutting the dough in half, as it's much easier to handle two rolls of Kouign Amann pastry - it also means you can keep half the mix for another time if you want to freeze it. Wrap the half you're not using and place back in the fridge.

Take the other half and place on the work surface with the seam at 90° to you. Scatter 1/4 of the roll in sugar on top of this.

Roll the dough into a rectangle one final time, which will push the sugar into the dough.

Place a sheet of cling on your work surface, and flip the dough onto it so that the sugar is now underneath. Brush over a thin layer of your apple puree, then scatter another 1/4 of the sugar all over this. Place slices of apple over the top, and finally scatter over the rose petals.

Now, from the longest side, start to roll the pastry, keeping it as tight as you can. When you've rolled it up entirely, bring the cling film up and over, then twist and hold the ends. Keep rolling it towards you in short strokes so that the pastry gets tighter in the middle.

Place in the freezer for 30 minutes. If you're making the other half of the dough now, repeat the process with the other half of the sugar, apples and rose petals.

Slice and proof

Toast your fennel seeds in a pan until they start to smoke, then remove from the heat and reserve.

Heat 25g of butter, then place a silicon mat onto a heavy baking tray. Brush the butter over the entire tray, then scatter over your sugar. Shake so that it covers the entire mat. Pour any excess sugar back into a bowl.

Take each pastry ring and brush it with butter too, then dip and roll each one in the bowl of sugar so that the insides are coated entirely. Place them on the mat, spread evenly, then scatter some fennel seeds inside each one and finally scatter over some more sugar (Note: Jamie Oliver would not approve).

Remove a roll of pastry from the freezer and cut off the end. Now make slices around 2 1/2 to 3cm tall, trying to keep them as round as possible. Place each slice into one of the pastry rings.

Now leave to proof - it will take about 2 hours. Some time before they're done, pre-heat your oven to 180°C.


This is the fun bit that will have people running for your kitchen.

When the pastries wobble a bit if you shake the try, they're ready. Place into your pre-heated oven and bake for 35 minutes.

After time's up, let them cool a little so that the caramelised sugar hardens.

Carefully pull each one up, breaking them out of the sugar. Trim the sides with a knife then gently push them down from the top so they fall out of the rings.

Leave to cool to room temp so they go really crispy. If you can stand to.

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