Friday, December 16, 2016

The Last Roundup

If you made the Kouigns Amann (or Kouign Amanns, if you prefer), you already had an amazing taste treat.  Now you're in for a visual treat, as The Last Roundup features photos from every baker who braved the mysteries of laminated dough to make this Breton specialty.  This series of pictures--each one a beauty--is a fitting tribute to Rose, who was able to make the impossible for a home baker doable.

Photo by Joan
Alpha Baker Joan

Joan was troubled by the heat in her tiny kitchen, and she had a hard time persuading the butter to stay solid during the turns.  But you'd never know there was a problem from looking at that pile of pastries on her elegant floral plate.

Photo by Vicki
Heavenly Cake Walk

Vicki was not totally on board with the idea of ending the bake-through as we began, but being Vicki, and with granddaughter as sous chef, she soldiered on, making a Kouign Amann which you can almost hear crackle.  "With Roses's recipes, it's often blind faith.  Keep calm and carry on."  And she did.

Photo by Rachel
Cooking and Thinking

For some of us, including Rachel, this was not a repeat experience.  Rachel was one of about ten bakers who joined the group after it started (and special shout-out to Rachel--I don't think she's missed a single week since she joined up!).  She didn't think she was up for "this kind of pastry.  No laminating for me!"  But "these delicious buns had me literally eating my words.  They looked right, they were flaky, and they were delicious!"  

Photo by Aimee
Food Geekette

Making these Queenies was also a first-time adventure for Aimee, but does this picture make her look like a novice?  I think not.  "Somewhere between a danish and croissant.  Not too sweet.  Layers of butter.  Completely awesome still warm.  Still better than anything from the store the next day.

Photo by Mendy
Greenstein's Bakery

And this entry from Mendy, another amazing example of what you can do with a toaster oven.  These were "delicious.  Better than I remembered."  Mendy sugared the dough with all the turns, instead of just the final one, and was "glad [he] did."  And one last picture of Mendy's family, enjoying the pastries with a hearty "L'Chaim!"

Photo by Orin
Orin's Goodies

This was also Orin's first Kouign Amann, but she thinks they'll be one of the things she'll "be making traditionally in the years ahead."  And although it was a first experience, it "went so well," in part, thanks to Patricia's valuable step-by-step in her re-post of her 2014 Kouign Amann blog.  "We loved the diversity of textures, flaky, soft and chewy.  A goodness of butter rich flavor mixed with caramel heaven."

Photo by Catherine
Phyllis Caroline 

Like Mendy, Catherine thought these were "even better the second time around."  And a perfect example of one of the things she's learned after baking nearly every week as an Alpha Baker.  "Your colleagues will be disappointed eand angry if you suddenly stop bringing them baked goods on a weekly basis.  Especially after the Kouign Amann.  Boy, did they like them."

And that's all she wrote.  

It's always hard to say goodbye, isn't it?  It may be a little hard to adjust to a new reality that doesn't include baking at least one, often complicated, recipe a week, blogging about it, and reading all yours blogs and writing about them too.  

The biggest payoff for me has not been the succession of baked goodies, although it's hard to deny that that's been pretty great, but being able to read your vivid, funny, and detailed accounts of your own baking.  I've loved being invited into your kitchens, watching your successes and frustrations, and getting glimpses into the lives you lead outside the kitchen.  You are a warm, smart, thoughtful, and talented group of people.  I'll miss you all.

And thanks once again to Rose and Woody, for developing these recipes and for having confidence that anyone with an oven (even a toaster oven) can pull them off.  Of course you can smooth fondant!  Meringues in the shape of birch twigs--why not?  Laminated pastry--you can do it!  And, for the most part, it turns out that they're right.

As Mendy said, "Cheers!  L'chaim!  To life!"


  1. Marie, it’s been a great experience to have baked with you and the Alpha Bakers and all so with Rose Levy B. I have had a lot of fun to and have had the mistakes also in the baking, but this is how we learn as we go along, I’m sad because it’s the end of the baking, I hope to be baking again with the group and you to Marie when the new book comes out on 2018 I hope, I wish you Marie and your family and the Alpha Bakers a wonderful Merry Christmas and a Happy coming New Year 2017

  2. Beautiful. I'll miss you all too. I don't want to put the onus on Marie, but let's continue to share ourselves and our kitchens.

  3. Lovely Round Up, Marie! Thank you so much for keeping us on the straight and narrow and moving forward from beginning to end of Rose's Baking Bible. It's truly amazing all the techniques we've learned. All the best to the Alpha Bakers, Rose and Woody.

  4. You are the awesomist group group of bakers ever. there are tears in my eyes as i tell you in all sincerity and love each one of you and am so blessed, as we all are, by the friendship of Marie Wolf. the story of how we met on line is one of my favorites and led to so many wonderful experiences for all of us. the results of your kouigns are absolutely marvelous. just btwi: friday, on the way down to Philly for the Fante event, i got a note from Jenn saying she was trying flour2 kouign technique in muffin pans. she noted that Joanne's baker spent hours perfecting the technique to which i responded in all due lack of humility, that i had spent days along with Woody who was still in MN also trying out just about every possibility, and we found that the muffin tins contained the butter so the bottoms were soggy. warning not to try this unless you follow Woody's suggestion to drill holes in the muffin tins! but i do think rings are best--even homemade.
    please stay in touch. Woody and i are working on what recipe to give you in advance from the Baking Basics, just for fun. meantime, check out the production phases so you see in detail just what we're going through. having the step by step photos is beyond awesome and makes it possible to make the written instructions shorter and more clear. happiest of holidays! oh: here's my latest idea: just made the Araxi tart for company and decided that the next time i make it i'll use my 1-12" high fluted tart pan and set a thin layer of biscuit in the blind-baked crust. this will keep it extra crisp and allow for the full amount of filling without risk of spilling over (i think!). xox

    1. Thanks Rose for reporting my experiment! I was able to save all the tops of the Kouign Amann but the bottom soggy parts were not only inedible, but it took forever to take them off the pan. And it took me a whole day of continually soaking the muffin pan to get the caramelized butter dough mixture off the pan. I was at some point contemplating throwing the pan away and just spend the money to buy a new one. Never again - it was a good intention to experiment but I think again it's proven, Rose's methods are the best. Also, Joanne's recipe has 50% more sugar than Rose's so it's a lot sweeter as well.

  5. wish i had proofed this hitting publish but rushing as ever to test a chocolate chocolate chip variation--the very last possible addition to the Basics and see that the very first sentence has two errors--but you get the idea....!

  6. Although I've never participated with the Alpha Bakers, I've read every post. I have all of Roses's books and have made hundreds of the recipes from them. I've become quite an accomplished baker and I tell people that Rose taught me. Of course no one usually knows who Rose is, but they find out after I sing her praises.
    If there is another bake through I'd love to be a part of the group. I have a huge problem doing so as I don't know the first thing about starting a web sight.
    Congratulations to all of you who completed this challenge