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.