Monday, January 23, 2012

Kouign Amann

It was a rare occurrence that I was the lone customer in the bakery on Saturday morning. Without the long line of people impatient for their pain I felt more comfortable taking my time making a decision, as well as asking a few questions. There were no almond encrusted pain de chocolats that morning, however on the top shelf was a beautiful looking pastry marked Kouign Amann, spécialité de Bretagne.

Kouign Amann from Le Pistore bakery

Lena explained their Breton baker had decided to bake this regional specialty, that it isn’t for a special holiday but instead is an everyday staple in boulangeries in Brittany. The translation is “butter cake,” and was supposedly invented by accident in 1860. It is made from dough bread covered with a butter-sugar mixture which is then folded like a pastry. While cooking, the sugar-butter permeates the dough and caramelizes, resulting in a crisp, delicious pastry. The cake I brought home (a pregnant woman passing by a “butter cake”? not going to happen…), was round with four individual units, but in my understanding they are baked for up to twelve people, sometimes in rectangular dishes, or just as individual cakes which are called kouignettes. Different from our usual breakfast pastries but delicious nonetheless, maybe next week they will have the beurrée variant, which is topped with crunchy caramel…

We also braved the soldes crowds. As I explained around this time last year, the French government authorizes stores to use the word les soldes only twice a year (January and July), in order to foster economic growth and consumption. This year they kicked off on January 11th and last until mid-February, with escalating markdowns every few weeks. I find it funny that stores are allowed to have discounts, special offers and promotions throughout the rest of the year, but cannot use the descriptor soldes outside of these two time periods.

The irony is that although many clothing and furniture stores have discounted merchandise, appliances seem to be full price year-round, with no end-of-year markdowns on old models or sales to bring in the customers in the New Year. But as our refrigerator has been freezing the eggs and milk recently (and according to Roberts’s research on our fridge this is a problem particular to our model after 2-4 years of use, and expensive to fix) I got to stand in the kitchen section of Darty and choose a refrigerator, one much more beautiful, energy-efficient and with a more convenient layout than the temperature-challenged, funny-noise making thing in our kitchen at the moment.

The delivery date for the new refrigerator is January 25th. Sound familiar? That’s because not only is it my brother’s birthday, but it is also my due date. (Well, my due date was I living in the US, but that is a different story.) Should we be taking bets on what arrives first, the baby or the fridge?*

*The saleswoman did not find this amusing, and instead pointed out the telephone number on our invoice that we call should we need to reschedule.


  1. That's great! You'll officially have an appliance that you can tell your child (years down the road) is "as old as you are. Literally!"

    And my god do I want one of those butter cakes about now...

  2. I think I had one of these every day when we visited Bretagne, they are so good! Here is hoping that the fridge comes before the baby!

  3. Hahahah - šis raksts mani ļoti iepriecināja!

  4. That looks yummy!
    And it will be funny to see if the baby and the refrigerator show up when they are due :-)


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