We’ve settled in the Boston area for now, but we still have pangs of homesickness for the many places we’ve lived as nomads. One place we particularly miss is Rennes. And one of the things we particularly miss from Rennes is the kouign-amann from the Marché des Lices.
Locals have told us about many bakeries that they feel make the best kouign-amann in Boston. “Just like France!” they say. Well, we’ve had the best kouign-amann in France, so we’ll be the judge of that.
We recognize that comparing these to a kouign-amann from Brittany is a bit like comparing a bagel in Auckland or Helsinki to the best ones in Boston. (So far, Bagelsaurus, but we’re still taste-testing.) The goal of this exercise is to find the one that comes the closest to the ideal.
All kouign-amann will be judged against our platonic ideal kouign-amann, which is essentially an experiment in how little flour it takes to hold large amounts of sugar and butter together. It’s dense, it’s chewy and it’s so rich you probably won’t need to eat for the rest of the day. If you find yourself in Rennes on a Saturday, it can be found in a booth in one of the two buildings at the market (the one that doesn’t have all the butcher shops). See photos of the kouign-amann booth here.
Colette Bakery: Kouign-Amann
Colette Bakery is just off Main Street in Somerville. On weekends it opens at 8am, but the line forms easily 20 minutes before that, and it just gets longer as the morning wears on. It’s a lovely spot, and the people inside speak French, so we figured we were in for something tasty. We bought our pastries, brought them home, plated them and prepared for deliciousness.
You can see that the top of the kouign-amann is not folded over. It’s got a bend at the corners, but they aren’t folded into the center. This limits the density of the kouign-amann. For comparison, below is a close-up view of our platonic ideal kouign-amann. (This is the bottom of a mini kouign-amann, but it will give you an idea of the density.)
As you can see, the sugar and butter coat the pastry so thickly that it gives it a glassy sheen. The layers of pastry are also tightly rolled, creating a dense, moist texture.
Things Colette Bakery Gets Right
The specific blend of butter and sugar that coats this pastry has the exact flavor that we know and love from our favorite kouign-amann in France. It has a nice crispiness on the outside, thanks to the coating that they put on it.
Things That Aren’t Quite Our Ideal Kouign-Amann
A kouign-amann is its own kind of pastry. This seemed like a croissant variant. It was light and airy rather than a density that rivalled a neutron star. It was buttery, but normal, human levels of buttery. It wasn’t the kind of pastry that would come with a warning from the American Heart Association. You could eat this and eat something else later that day. Possibly even at the same meal!
This was an absolutely delicious pastry, and we would gladly eat it again. Colette produces delicious baked goods. It is definitely worth the line. But we will continue to search for our ideal Boston-area kouign-amann.
Colette Bakery, 509 Main Street, Medford, MA 02155
(781) 396 2313