The moment we arrive in Brittany, we look for the next pâtisserie to pick up a local delicacy, which usually sums up in the round Gâteau Breton. ‘It makes the coffee speak’ says my husband whose sweet tooth is known to one and all. Pretending to be like an Ostrich is the best way to handle the gateau, as it is ladden with the highest load of butter next to the Gache of Vendee, I suppose. I don’t count the kilos I could gain on my hips, as it makes me feel like a plump goose ready for the ‘confit’. Glad to find the beloved ‘Becassine’ of my childhood, Brittany and Butter rhyme an endearing tune to me…amidst the Celtic ‘cornemuse‘.
In Brittany, local salted butter is used for absolutely everything including patisserie. A way of extolling how well fed the cows are and the quality of their milk can only win them a ‘Label Rouge’. Respect. Bow. It is exceptional.
The butter follows suit, another set of ‘Label Rouge’ again. I like my Breton butter with the ‘sel de Guerande’, smothered over a fresh baguette tradi slice with a hot cuppa. Nothing can beak that savouring those simple pleasures of life. But that this one is one of the highest quality. When you are in Brittany, you have to appreciate butter. Forget what the media pumps to us, butter is bad for us. On a high quantity, anything is disastrous. I take my butter with an appreciative attitude, thanking nature and feeding my brain of one food, it likes best – fat. A happy and healthy brain makes a happy and smart man!
Just savvy shopping for the best salted butter you can find – the resulting flavour depends on it and is well worth the extra expense and effort – is all that’s required for making the hands-down, will-make-you-weep, most butter-rich, splendidly short, shortbread. Ever.
The literal meaning of the name in Breton is “butter cake” (kouign is “cake” and amann is “butter”). When made properly, the kouign amann’s seemingly simple and humble appearance belies sensational flavour and texture. Deeply caramelized and buttery, crisp without and tenderly flaky within, it is utterly addictive.