bake - May/June 2024 - 44

pastries
Kouign-Amann
You won't find many people as passionate about a subject, or as
knowledgeable, as Brian Wood is about kouign-amann. Wood is
credited with making the classic, delicate pastry, which originated
in Brittany, France, famous in the Bay Area and beyond. He
also literally wrote the book on baking and pastry, Baking and
Pastry: A Professional Approach, developed for the San Francisco
Baking Institute, where he also taught and developed the
pastry program.
Additionally, Wood has worked in R&D for several large, national
bakeries such as Full Bloom and Essential Baking and has
consulted at bakeries around the country. He founded Starter
Bakery in 2010 as a wholesale operation supplying the greater
San Francisco area's specialty retail grocers, caterers, restaurants
and coffee shops, and in 2023, he opened a boutique retail
bakery café in the Rockridge neighborhood in Oakland.
In early March, Wood taught a workshop at the Camp Bread
event in Rhode Island. The class, titled " Variations on KouignAmman, "
explored the versatility of this very
special and old pastry in a modern light.
Wood has spent years perfecting
kouign-amann for consistent, commercial
production. His playful and
creative use of flavor highlights
seasonality and regional specialties,
while his impeccable aesthetic
and practical approach allows
for stunning garnishing techniques
that are scalable for production.
" To me, it's a very specific pastry
with a very specific heritage, " Wood
says. " When I came up with the formula I use,
I think in 2009, I wanted to replicate a really authentic version.
That recipe is the same one I use today, and that's the recipe I
taught. "
The biggest misconception, he says, is that what many refer to
as " kouign-amann " these days is really just croissant dough that
has some sugar on the outside, a big deviation from what he
thinks of kouign-amann to be: salted butter, caramel notes, and
a denser texture than you would have in a croissant. While the
technical aspects can be challenging, such as laminating with
sugar, is worth it for the fully authentic version.
44 < MAY-JUN 2024 | bakemag.com
To create the perfect kouign-amann, Wood says that starting
with a good formulation is critical, with a certain amount of saltiness
to the dough and a certain percentage of caramel notes.
Regarding execution, don't let the dough rest too long, processing
it fairly quickly.
" In our kouign-amann, we do three single folds, and the sugar
goes in the second and third fold. Letting the dough rest a half
hour between the series of folds, as long as you put in the right
amount of sugar, you won't have any liquification, " he says.
Wood and his team offer different flavor variations at the bakery.
Bittersweet chocolate pairs well, so they work with Guittard
Chocolate Company on the wholesale side, using the 72 percent
couverture in the center. For the retail program, they use
Valrhona chocolate in the center. As far as seasonal variations
are concerned, a classic version they offer is pear almond. They
make caramel poached pears in-house, putting those on top
of house-made almond frangipane. Hazelnut praline is another
popular flavor, using caramelized hazelnuts.
CLARA RICE, MOLLY DECOUDREAUX FOR STARTER BAKERY
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bake - May/June 2024

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of bake - May/June 2024

bake - May/June 2024 - Intro
bake - May/June 2024 - 1
bake - May/June 2024 - 2
bake - May/June 2024 - 3
bake - May/June 2024 - 4
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