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Friday, August 19, 2011

Finding a Kouign Amann in San Francisco: Your Weekend Assignment

Posted By on Fri, Aug 19, 2011 at 1:20 PM

click to enlarge Starter Bakery's kouign amann. - JONATHAN KAUFFMAN
  • Jonathan Kauffman
  • Starter Bakery's kouign amann.

There is only one San Francisco location, to date, where you can buy Starter Bakery's pastries. One. SFoodie wrote about the new Emeryville bakery in May, founded by former San Francisco Baking Institute professor Brian Wood and Jamie Hansen. But up until this month, Starter's baked goods were only available at East Bay cafes and farmers markets. That was until Shannon Amitin of Farm:Table (754 Post, at Jones) tasted a kouign amann (pronounced "queen ah-MON") , and immediately made plans to bring them in to his Tenderloin cafe.

The Kouign amann (which means "butter cake") is a rather recherché Breton pastry now coming into vogue on the West Coast. Starter's the first local bakery to produce them on a regular basis, and Manresa pastry chef Belinda Leong previewed her own version at her first pop-up shop a few weeks ago -- she plans to start selling them at Four Barrel and Bar Agricole as early as next week. Starter doesn't just replicate the original -- it's making chocolate and berry kouign amanns, too, all of which are showing up at Farm:Table on weekends.

The kouign amann is sturdier and denser than a croissant, but that's only so that the wrinkles and folds can hold more butter and sugar. As it bakes, the sugar forms caramelized crystals around the rim of the kouign amann, and their scintillating, brittle crunch is even more captivating than the papery layers of pastry. A paradox arises when you eat your first kouign amann: One is more than rich enough for breakfast; one immediately leads to thoughts of two.

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Follow me at @JonKauffman.

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Jonathan Kauffman


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