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Jul 15, 2013 07:01 PM

Croissants or Kouign Amman with Browned Butter?

Anyone tried this?

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  1. I would think that the browning of the milk proteins in the butter would render them incapable of producing the characteristics that make those pastries so delectable. Once it's browned, you basically have oil and proteins as two separate entitites.

    Kind of like substituting hard-boiled eggs in a cake recipe calling for raw eggs.

    6 Replies
    1. re: sunshine842

      That's why I'm asking. I've been making chocolate chip cookies lately with browned butter and they have a richer flavor and great texture.

      1. re: sbp

        but in things like chocolate chip cookies, the browned butter just serves as a fat.

        In croissants in particular, you're not making a batter or dough -- you're encasing very thin layers of butter in the pastry, trapping moisture which expands and causes the paper-thin layers we all love. You simply can't do that with clarified butter and some browned solids.

        1. re: sbp

          Browned butter is great in baked goods that aren't flakey but in croissants, as sunshine said, the butter melting is what causes the layers. You need the butter as cold as possible and melted would be absorbed quickly by the flour. A brown butter brioche would probably be very good.

          1. re: chowser

            Actually, I was going to re-solidify the butter. But thinking about it, it's the water in the butter that is turning to steam, and browned butter probably has most of the water boiled out .

            1. re: sbp

              Exactly. If browned butter melts, it will be the same volume. For the Kouign Amman, you might brown butter and put it in the pan before the dough. That would give it the caramelly goodness w/out messing up the flakiness.

        2. Kouign Amman just appeared at a small local bakery here in southwestern Ohio. Wow! It is wonderful! I found several recipes on line, none of which used browned butter. The cold butter was layered into the dough as it was rolled out.

          1. If you do try making Kouign-Amann, whichever kind of butter you use, please report back! I'm a fairly decent baker and just haven't managed to crack that one pastry yet. The many 'failed' attempts are always tasty but just not perfect yet.

            2 Replies
            1. re: FrenchSoda

              I'm interested in what fails for you, so I'll know what to look out for.

              1. re: sbp

                I've tried a couple of different ways so far. Both the David Leibovitz recipe and the Joe Pastry as well as one from a pastry cookbook. (Just to note btw, this is not to knock those recipes, I'm sure it's my execution/materials, not their recipes at issue!). I have tried with regular fat % butter and tracked down higher fat content butter (hard to find in Toronto, where I am).

                I'm having two main issues trying to replicate:

                1) With layering the butter & sugar together in the lamination process (DL recipe), the sugar pulls the water out of the butter and I end up with a doughy clump rather than sugary flakey layers. Probably French vs North American materials the problem there. Adding flour to the butter block to absorb didn't help, though perhaps I didn't add enough. I thought perhaps the higher fat/less water butter would cure this and it did help, but it still isn't quite there yet. In the JP version there is only one final turn with the sugar added so the butter and sugar don't come in direct contact, but then there is not as much sugar layered through the final pastry.

                2) The style I am trying to create is the slightly thicker crackly caramelized top a la Kouign-Amann bakery in Montreal. The sugar on top called for in all the recipes I've seen so far doesn't create this. But I did finally find online an image of them actually pouring 'a glistening sugary butter juice' over the top to create it, so next I will try to see what I can come up with for a topping.


            2. i know this is an old thread, but here are some suggestions i have

              - take some milk powder and cook them in butter until they're brown (apparently most of the flavors of brown butter come from the browned milk solids) and add the solids (sans fat/liquid) to the detrempe

              - alternatively, you could make a beurre monte (basically melted butter that stays in emulsified version, seeé) and either add brown butter solids from above OR add some proportion of regular brown butter to the beurre monte. this way you retain the moisture needed to puff up those layers

              i haven't made any of these, but I thought they would be good ideas... let me know how it goes!

              3 Replies
              1. re: vircabutar

                you need to have the solidified structure of the unmelted butter to create the texture of the pastry.

                Give it a try sometime -- certainly not difficult, although fussy and time-consuming -- rolling all of those hundreds of layers will give you a better idea of the "why" behind the process.

                1. re: sunshine842

                  yeah, the beauty of the beurre monte is that, when re-refridgerated, it stays in its original emulsified form (i.e. a regular butter block).