Afternoon tea, Breton-style Alison García Hall | Posted: 25 April 2016

Walking & cycling holidays in Brittany

Brittany, together with Normandy, is well-known for its dairy products, particularly the creamy butter that is produced from the milk of contented cows that have spent all day quietly munching on lush green grass.

And, having just returned from checking the route notes for our cycling holiday to Brittany’s Land’s End, I can honestly say that I’ve rarely seen butter put to better use than in the making of the traditional and truly scrumptious Kouign Amann (pronounced kween ah-man) or ‘Butter Cake’.

Walking & cycling holidays in Brittany

The authentic Breton recipe consists of multiple alternating layers of brioche dough, butter and sugar, arranged in a large circular cake mould called a roue de charrette (carriage wheel). The rich pudding mixture is then slowly baked until the sugar caramelises.

It is believed that the original Kouign Amann came about in 1865, when a Breton baker from Douarnenez made a failed batch of bread dough. Not wanting to waste it, he quickly thought to add sugar and butter – and the rest is history, as they say. The result was a triumph – and the ‘Butter Cake’ was born, rapidly becoming the speciality of firstly the village, and ultimately the whole region.

In 1999, the patissiers of Douarnenez came together to create an Association to ensure that their expertise in creating the real thing would be recognised – so look out for the Véritable Kouign Amann de Douarnenez label.

Walking & cycling holidays in Brittany

You can find these authentic cakes at every boulangerie and patisserie on the route of our holiday – but my favourites were definitely those I tasted in Locronan.

This beautifully preserved village, classified as a ‘Petite Cité de Caractère’, with its cobbled streets and handsome Renaissance houses with traditional roofs, has been used as the backdrop for many major films, including Roman Polanski’s Tess. The impressive 18th-century houses built in the local granite are a reflection of wealth brought to the town by the manufacture of hemp and high-quality ship-rigging canvas.

Walking & cycling holidays in Brittany

While here, you simply must visit Ty Kouign Amann (‘the house of the butter cake’), a wonderfully atmospheric shop with an amazing array of home-made sweets, chocolates, pastries and the most delicious Kouign Amann of them all.

I can highly recommend the salted caramel version – though it was a good job I still had another 15 kilometres to go to burn off all those scrumptious, buttery calories!

Bake these at home:
If you like the sound of the Kouign Amann and fancy making them yourself, here’s the recipe from the BBC ‘Bake-Off’ team (it was used as one of their challenges). Find recipe here >

Related Holidays & Further Information

Brittany's Land's End

From the historic town of Quimper, spend a leisurely week cycling around picturesque Brittany: exploring its rural heartland, discovering the spectacular coastline and sampling some truly delicious cuisine.

More about our cycling holidays in Brittany >

The Granite Coast of Brittany

Gentle walking routes along the coast lead over rocky headlands to sandy bays, and to small villages where the welcome is as warm as the food is tasty.

More about our walking holidays in Brittany >


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