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Alder Pastry's Matthew Zack Butters Up His Kouign Amann

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Welcome back to Chef in the Kitchen, a recurring Eater photo feature where we boldly go where few diners have gone before — into Portland restaurant kitchens — to get a sneak peek of the chef du jour hard at work.

Photography by Dina Avila

Matthew Zack's four-month-old Alder Pastry & Dessert already boasts a ravenous following thanks to its case full of intriguing gelato flavors and cakes — none more simple and craveworthy than the kouign amann. To make this batch of 100 multilayered pastries, Zack first mixes a dough that features the basic flour, water, butter, salt, sugar, and yeast, allowing the dough to ferment overnight. Those who choose to be blissfully unaware of the calorie content might want to look away: The next day, after giving the mixture one run through a dough sheeter, Zack piles on the butter (six pounds, to be exact), folding the butter and some sea salt into the dough before giving it another two turns in the sheeter — the "laminating process" creates the pastry's flaky, salty layers.

After allowing the dough to rest during stints in the freezer and fridge, Zack sheets the dough super-thin, cuts it into squares, and dusts it with sugar before each square is folded into its adorable shape. The folded dough is then placed into buttered tins and baked for 30-40 mins in the oven — Zack bakes them up batches of 30 on weekends, about two dozen on weekdays.
· Alder Pastry & Dessert [Official site]
· All Previous Chef in the Kitchen Coverage [Eater PDX]