Fougasse with Black Olives

Today’s recipe is found in the MiNDFOOD August 2017 Issue.

Disclaimer: I have never made bread in my life, but the point of my blog is to try taking some of the fear out of cooking, so let’s go for it!!

As I type, my bread is currently in the proofing phase (at least I think that’s what it’s called). Therefore I am still undecided if this is going to make it to the blog.

First of all, what the heck is Fougasse?

Wikipedia has informed me that it is a French cuisine that is typically associated with Provence but variations of this bread can be found in other regions. Some of these variations are slashed into a pattern resembling an ear of wheat (I also had to Google this, see the funky photo below for your own education).

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Source: Epicurious

Righto let’s get into it!

The first variation to this recipe is due to my pantry letting me down (and perhaps my wallet), I have no olives. I honestly don’t think there is an issue here; I think the herbs and having a decent quality olive oil will more than make up for it. Also if you don’t think it’s tasty enough for your liking you could add sun-dried tomatoes to the dough, or hummus as a topping and for extra brownie points cook with fresh rosemary as a topping. For extra fancy brownie points use rock salt for a topping. Suh fancy!

In terms of process I mostly followed the recipe. The yeast part at the start I ended up doing twice…I put salt instead of sugar with the warm water, which, top tip, kills the yeast! We laugh…. The second run through was fine except I didn’t get any bubbling. My bread turned out fine though so don’t be too concerned if yours doesn’t either.

Following this, add one cup of the flour before mixing in the olive oil, salt and herbs. This is to ensure the salt doesn’t touch the yeast. For my herbs I used Rosemary and Thyme (no parsley or sage S&G fans). The recipe then suggests that to make your ball of dough you may not require all of the remaining 3 cups of flour and it’s right, I only used maybe two and half cups. To be fair the kneading process soaks up a bit more flour.

Kneading should take around two and half Britney Spears songs, a little less if you get a Spotify advert in between.

Now we are up to where I am currently writing. My ball of dough has been lubed up with olive oil and is chilling (not literally I hope) in the oven (not on) so it has a warmish draught-free area to rise. It’s the middle of winter here in New Zealand therefore our old high-ceilinged house that gets no sun is probably not the right environment for my doughy friend.

Anyway back to bread making, wish me luck!

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Episode two: Fumble of the Fougasse.

This is where you get to cut your dough into the funky shapes! This recipe can be divided in two so you can have two attempts at making pretty shapes. A tip for young players: if you want the crazy gaps like in the image above you really need to exaggerate the cuts and pull the dough across the tray. I put about half a centimetre gaps in my dough and you can see I didn’t get any gaps.

Then let your breads sit in a warm place again for 20 or so minutes. Next, chuck them in the oven at 220 degrees Celsius and pour a quarter of cup of water in the bottom of the oven to create a steam. If this doesn’t make you feel like a wizard worthy of Professor Snape’s potion class, I don’t know what will.

The recipe then advises the bread should take 18 minutes to cook, swapping the breads around so they get crispy bottoms and browned tops. I however had it in there for 25 minutes. This may depend on your oven, so best keep an eye on it in regular 10min intervals. But whatever you do please don’t open the oven every time you do this! Heat consistency is important when using an oven.

Success! I must say I am pretty happy with my first attempt at Fougasse bread. For any budding bread enthusiasts out there, go forth and knead!

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