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I have been making kouign-aman (my favorite recipe: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cxwgzzErW1w) for several years, playing with different recipes, making minor modifications, but can not seem to prevent the dough from "sweating" when I add the sugar. The latest thought was maybe when I put it n the refrigerator to rest, the temperature of the metal cookie sheet was the culprit, so I put the wrapped dough on a towel - no change.

This happens whether it is 66 in the winter or 72 in the summer with max humidity of around 35%.

Then, whenI cut it into pieces the layers separate, it sweats even more, sometimes giving the impression the butter is melting - which it may be.

The end result is a pastry that is more bready than layered (like a good croissant).

Any ideas why this is happening? Or how to prevent it?

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    Are you refrigerating the dough after each fold? Are you adding two layers of butter or three? Does the recipe add sugar after each fold, or at the end? (Sorry, I don't have time to watch youtube, and anyway, it is best to make the question self-contained.) – Mark Wildon May 18 at 15:54
  • Yes, I refrigerate it after each fold. Single layer of butter, roll, fold, refrigerate. The sugar gets added after the 2nd round. – Greg May 19 at 16:39
  • Thanks for the details. This is what I'd suggest to minimize melting of the butter. Very rich doughs are tricky: as the answer below says, you need to work very quickly. It can help to chill a large board and use it to roll out the dough. – Mark Wildon May 19 at 16:57
  • Yes, I try to work quickly, but I like the idea of also using a chilled board. – Greg May 21 at 20:03
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I'm fairly certain the sugar, being hydroscopic, is drawing moisture out of the dough as well as the air and dissolving, which produces the sweat you've noticed. It doesn't help that kouign-amann dough is chilled before rolling with the sugar, which means you could have straight-up condensation happening as well. It's not just the metal pan, but the dough itself that's chilled.

I don't think you can avoid it-except by working very quickly once you've started rolling the sugar into your dough.

As to your texture being breadier, it's hard to say. It could be you need to do a couple more folds to get thinner layers. It could be that they're overproofing before you toss them in the oven. Or the ovens not hot enough maybe... Like I said, it's hard to say. But when I've made kouign-amann, they were very soft in the center, with crunchy outer layers and a salty caramel shell. So it's equally possibly that there is no problem. Breadiness is subjective after all.

One thing I do know is that if you want a more crisp pie crust, you can replace part of the butter with shortening or lard, both of which are lower moisture than butter. I don't know if it's even worth considering for kouign-amann, but it might be an interesting experiment anyway. A pie crust is different from a yeast bread obviously, so I'm really not sure what effect it would have overall, but my guess would be that the outer layers would be a hot flakier/crisper.

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  • I think I'll try putting the sugar in the fridge too next time. These are coming out just as you said, "soft in the center, with crunchy outer layers and a salty caramel shell". Delicious! But they have occasionally come out a bit more layered in the inside, which I found to be much better. – Greg May 19 at 16:41

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