The Perfect Pastry
Years before Joanne Chang made a name for herself wooing customers with dense chocolate brownies and gooey sticky buns at Flour, the chef fell in love with a more-traditional dessert while visiting Paris: kouign-amann (pronounced queen-a-mon), a sweet, croissantlike butter cake from Brittany, France. “It’s the perfect pastry,” Chang says. “You have all the great flavors of a yeasted croissant with real, great butter, and then you have the sugar that caramelizes as it bakes.” Add it all up and you get a confection with crisp, sugary edges, a soft, flaky body, and a rich, luscious center. Making kouign-amann, however, is no cakewalk: The dough must be precisely layered with lots and lots of butter — a time-consuming process that once kept the treats off Chang’s regular menu. But thanks to a new high-tech dough sheeter at Flour, you can now snap up the pastries for just $3.95 a pop — a whole lot cheaper than a flight to France.
Flour Bakery + Café, 12 Farnsworth St., Boston, 617-338-4333; and other locations; flourbakery.com.