For the culinary artist, we present a more ambitious option featuring laminated dough. Ginger-Cardamom Kouign-Amann showcases tantalizing layers infused with a mixture of sugar and ground spices, cut into squares, and pressed into muffin cups. In the oven’s heat, the interior of each serving turns moist and fluffy, while its burnished, ruffly exterior deepens to a crisp and caramelized finish.
- ¾ cup whole milk, room temperature
- 1 large egg
- 1¾ teaspoons instant yeast
- 3 cups bread flour
- 2¼ cups granulated sugar, divided
- 15 tablespoons unsalted temperature, room temperature and divided, plus more for greasing pan
- 2¼ teaspoons kosher salt
- ¾ teaspoon ground ginger
- ¼ teaspoon ground cardamom
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk together milk, egg, and yeast by hand. Using the dough hook attachment, add flour, ¼ cup sugar, 2 tablespoons butter, and salt, and beat at low speed until dough comes together, about 1 minute, stopping to scrape down sides of bowl. (Dough may still look shaggy at this point.) Continue beating at low speed until dough pulls away from sides of bowl and passes the windowpane test (see Notes*), about 5 minutes, stopping to scrape down sides of bowl and dough hook as needed.
- Spray a large bowl with cooking spray. Turn out dough onto a very lightly floured surface, and shape into a smooth ball. Place dough in bowl, turning to grease top. Cover and let rise in a warm, draft-free place (75°) until dough is nearly doubled in size and holds an indent when poked, about 2 hours.
- On a sheet of parchment paper, draw a 6.5-inch square. Turn parchment over; place remaining 13 tablespoons butter on parchment. Spread butter evenly and shape into a straight-sided square; wrap in parchment and plastic wrap. (If butter gets too soft to work with, refrigerate for 5 minutes before continuing.)
- Punch down dough, and on a lightly floured surface, roll into a 10-inch square. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper; lightly dust with flour. Place dough on prepared pan. Cover tightly with plastic wrap (to ensure dough does not dry out); refrigerate dough and butter square overnight.
- Freeze dough for 15 minutes. Let butter block stand at room temperature until pliable, 10 to 15 minutes.
- On a lightly floured surface, place chilled dough with one corner pointing toward you. Unwrap butter block, and place in center of dough rectangle, straight sides perpendicular to dough corners. Fold dough edges over to enclose butter block, pinching seams to seal. Roll dough into a 24x10-inch rectangle. Fold dough into thirds along long side like a letter; wrap dough in plastic wrap and freeze until chilled, 5 to 15 minutes.
- On a lightly floured surface, place dough with one long side closest to you; roll into a 24x10-inch rectangle. Fold dough into thirds along long side like a letter; rotate 90 degrees. Repeat this rolling and folding process once more, freezing for 5 to 15 minutes, as needed, if dough gets too soft. Wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 45 minutes.
- In a medium bowl, stir together remaining 2 cups sugar, ginger, and cardamom.
- Coat a work surface with ½ cup sugar mixture. Transfer dough to work surface, and roll into a 24x10-inch rectangle. (Turn dough over, as needed, to help gain traction while rolling.) Sprinkle dough with another ½ cup sugar mixture, and fold into thirds along long side, like a letter. (If dough starts to feel too soft, freeze until chilled, 5 to 15 minutes.) Sprinkle work surface with another ½ cup sugar mixture. Roll dough into a 24x10-inch rectangle, and sprinkle with remaining ½ cup sugar mixture.
- Cut dough into 4-inch squares, discarding or reserving scraps for another use (see Notes**). Turn squares; fold in corners of each square to center, pressing center firmly.
- Preheat oven to 375°. Place a rimmed baking sheet in oven to catch any butter drips. Generously butter a 12-cup muffin pan.
- Transfer folded squares to prepared muffin cups. Cover with plastic wrap, and let rise at room temperature for 20 minutes. Place muffin pan on baking sheet in oven. Bake until sugar starts to turn golden, about 25 minutes. Using a small offset spatula, immediately remove from muffin pan; serve warm or let cool to room temperature on a wire rack. Kougin-amann are best enjoyed the same day.
*Test dough for proper gluten development using the windowpane test. Pinch off (don’t tear) a small piece of dough. Slowly pull the dough out from the center. If the dough is ready, you will be able to stretch it until it’s thin and translucent like a windowpane. If the dough tears, it’s not quite ready.
**Sugary dough scraps are delicious when baked. Twist together remaining pieces, and roll the twists into a spiral shape, tucking loose ends underneath. Place on a parchment-lined baking sheet; cover and let rise at room temperature for 20 minutes. Bake at 375° until sugar starts to turn golden, 20 to 25 minutes.