Eat This: Kouign-Amann at Village Baking Co.'s Boulangerie
If you, like me, have ever found yourself with a Sunday afternoon with nothing to do but lay on the couch and nurse a hangover, then you are likely aware of The Great British Baking Show, a delightful show where very British bakers fret about baking cakes, bread and pastries. It’s great.
There’s a particular episode where the contestants are tasked with making kouign-amanns, a pastry none of them had ever heard of.
Did they even know how to pronounce it? Reader, they did not. But what you need to know about kouign-amanns is that they take the croissant’s affection for butter and throw a load of sugar on top to create perhaps the most decadent pastry out there. It’s a heavy thing to hold, but then you start to crack apart the layers of butter-soaked pastry that crunch with sweet caramelization and you realize that this muffin-looking croissant thing has surpassed whatever expectations your tastebuds might’ve had.
I first encountered this Breton creation at a lovely bakery in Houston called Common Bond. I’m never one to recommend a trip down I-45, but if you find yourself anywhere near the Montrose neighborhood, you must visit. Their croissants rival any found in France — a fact that a recent trip to Paris confirmed — but it was here that I learned to love the kouign-amann’s dense and caramelized structure.
Fortunately, I don’t need to travel to Houston or Brittany to tear one apart. Village Baking Co. Boulangerie on Lowest Greenville is much closer. I’m reticent to call anything cute, but the Boulangerie certainly approaches cuteness in its approximation of a Parisian bakery bathed in white walls and soft light.
You can choose a variety of kouign-amanns. If you want to skew traditional instead of opting for the chocolate or blackberry, their vanilla version is the closest, though on the sweeter side of the butter and sugar balance.
On a cool fall morning, there’s a quiet bliss to a sleepy Lowest Greenville. Instead of the bustle of the evening, the street is for walking dogs or workers stopping in for coffee on their commute or vendors delivering to the restaurants. Sitting on the patio with patient dogs waiting for their owners inside, I’m content to a hot coffee and the kouign-amann.