Baked in Montreal: Kouign Amann
It is no wonder why the owners of Kouign Amann chose the cake/pastry kouign amann to name themselves after. It is a wonder to behold and a marvel to eat, and if permitted, I will name my first-born child after it. A kouign amann is a Breton cake â€“ or more specifically, a galette of layered crepes made from sweet dough packed with butter and sugar. Kouign is the Breton word for cake and amann means butter and really, I donâ€™t think there could be a more apt name. Between each layer of this brioche dough is a slathering of butter and sugar, and then the whole cake is baked in an oven. The sugar/butter coating on the top caramelizes and becomes crunchy and sweet, while the thin layers of cake inside absorb the buttery sweetness, making the interior soft and tender. There is also a variation available with sliced apples placed between the layers, adding a different texture to the cake, as well as an appreciated cut to the sweetness. But my definite preference is the original.
Be forewarned â€“ the kouign amann is not appropriate for a quick breakfast on-the-go, nor is it something you can eat alone. Itâ€™s heavy, rich and packed with butter and sugar, so itâ€™s best to share, though once I get started eating, I have a hard time parting with it. If youâ€™re looking for breakfast though, donâ€™t be dissuaded. The croissants there are on par with the best in the city, their best-sellers including the chocolate croissant and a delectable almond one. Danishes surround you as well, raisin and blueberry looking particularly tempting.
One of my favourite selections from Kouign Amann are the tartlettes. I think that bringing a boxful of these to a dinner party is a refreshing change to the typical cake option, as theyâ€™re gorgeous to look at and easy to share (with such a great variety of types, sharing is what youâ€™ll want to do). The blueberry and the cranberry tartlettes are made with an almond cream, berries interspersed throughout. A sweet glaze coats the top and the base is made with ground almonds. I prefer the cranberry, as the tartness juxtaposes nicely against the sweet almond. Other tartlettes are the chocolate, with a chocolate-filling and a thick ganache coating the top, and the lemon custard.
I recently tried the rum and prune tart, which was a nice change. Much less sweet than its cousins, with the bite of prune pleasantly thrown in. Really, all of these tartlettes are glorious, both in taste and appearance.
If savory is more your thing, consider one of their hearty paninis, or one of the varieties of quiches available. A cheese croissant is a good option, or go all out and get the ham and cheese croissant. Now this thing is lunch!
Inside one of their sliced croissants sits thinly sliced ham, a soft and creamy bÃ©chamel sauce, and a sprinkling of Swiss cheese. The other half of the croissant is placed on top, and another heavy-handed sprinkle of cheese later, this sandwich is ready to go! Have them warm it up for you, sit down at one of the cozy window seats, and enjoy the buttery divinity of the simple ham and cheese lunch.
Kouign Amann is open every day, though they do run out of some items pretty quickly. Their offerings are always fresh, the ingredients used superior, and the place is simply one of the cityâ€™s best.
322, Mont-Royal Est