Huzzah! More baking today!
I mentioned yesterday that I went on a course at the School Of Artisan Food a couple of years ago. One of the breads I learned to make there, which is now probably my favourite bread to make, was fougasse. This is a classic French flatbread which is traditionally cut into the shape of an ear of corn. These cuts make it the perfect tear-and-share bread and it can be made with all sorts of flavours. My favourite things to use are bacon or caramelised garlic but today I made it with olives which give it a more subtle but rather delicious flavour.
To make each fougasse you need 2 bowls, (I made 2 so therefore I used 4 bowls). These instructions are per fougasse, to make more you just do this several times (It doesn’t really work if you try and make it all in one then divide it to bake).
In order to make this I bulked up the sourdough starter slightly this morning, adding 2 scoops of flour and one of water at about 7am. I then began baking at about midday and the finished breads came out of the oven at about 7:30pm
In bowl 1 mix 200g Water and 100g Sourdough Starter.
In bowl 2 mix 250g Flour and 4g Salt.
Mix the dry and wet ingredients together in bowl 1 (it will be a very sticky mess at this point!).
Add 10 roughly chopped Olives or some fried bacon or garlic or anything else you want.
In bowl 2 add 25g Extra Virgin Olive Oil.
Scrape the dough into the oil, cover and leave to rest for an hour.
The beauty of this recipe is that you don’t need to knead it (which is a good job because it is so wet you would probably have trouble!)
After an hour uncover your dough then pull and fold the dough from the edge to the middle four or five times around the outside then turn it upside down so it is back in the oil.
Repeat this process every hour or so until you have done it about four times (If you are using fresh yeast you can do this slightly more often, I tend to do it every 30 minutes or so)
The final time you do this, instead of putting it back into the bowl you should put it on a piece of floured baking paper. I use semolina flour for this as it gives a nice crunch to the finished dough but it is fine to use normal flour.
Once you have done this you should turn the oven on as high as it will go and put the baking tray(s) that you plan to use in to heat up.
Leave the dough to rest for 15-20 minutes then stretch it out gently so that it fills most of the piece of baking paper (which you will handily have pre-cut to the right size obviously…)
Use your dough scraper to cut slits into the dough then stretch it out again so that the holes open up. Feel free to stretch out the holes themselves with your fingers, they should be nice and wide otherwise they could close up in the oven.
Sprinkle a little semolina flour over the bread and leave it to rest for a few more minutes.
Take the hot tray(s) out of the oven and carefully slide the fougasse, on the baking paper, onto the tray the put it back in the oven.
Bake for approximately 20-25 minutes until it is nice and evenly brown. If your oven is like ours you will probably have to turn it a couple of times and swap them over if you are doing more than one so that they bake evenly.
When the bread is cooked you can either eat it straight away or spend some time pretending to be The Silence…
As I said this makes great tear-and-share bread and a few of these in the middle of the table looks fantastic!
Another great thing about these is that you get loads of crust which for me is the best bit of bread like this.
Eat and enjoy!