This month's Fresh from the Oven bread baking challenge, hosted by Claire from Purely Food is Fougasse.
The name 'Fougasse', similar to its Italian flat bread cousin, the ciabatta, derives from the Latin word for 'hearth'. These breads were originally used as testers, thrown into the ashes of the hearth to see if the ovens were hot enough for the rest of the breads. Yep, these delightful bakes were the sacrificial
lambs loaves of the bread world.
It is a relatively straightforward recipe but it can be jazzed up - check out the Baker's notes below for pimped up Fougasse suggestions. And making the traditional leaf pattern is a lot of fun- I for one was aiming for beech leaf...can you not tell?!
(Women's Institute: Bread, by Liz Herbert)
450g strong white bread flour
1 teaspoon of salt
1.5 teaspoon fast action dried yeast
6 tbsps extra virgin olive oil
300ml hand hot water
flour or semolina for dusting
1. Combine the flour, salt and yeast in a large mixing bowl. Add 4 tbsps of the pilve oil and the water and mix with your hand to a soft dough
2. Turn out onto an unfloured work surface and knead for 8-10 minutes until smooth
3. Pop in an oiled polythene bag and prove in a warm place until double in size
4. Grease two baking sheets and dust with flour
5. Knock back the dough and divide into four equal pieces. Shape these into 20cm long and 13cm wide ovals
6. Make two short cuts down the cente of each bread, and 3-4 diagnosal cuts either side, radiating from the middle
7. Place two fougasse on each baking sheet, cover and leave to rpove for thirty minutes
8. Preheat the oven to Gas Mark 7/220C/425F
9. Drizzle the bread with the left over oil and bake for 15-20 minutes until golden. Transfer to a wire rack to cool
- To maintain the 'leaf cuts' from closing up, pop a little flour on your finger and run your finger round each cut to enhance it
- The fougasse are best eaten on the day they are made; I'm afraid they tend to dry out after twenty four hours
- It is the perfect sharing bread, with the leaf pattern a ready-made tear.
- The dough can be flavoured to make lovely sweet or savoury versions. For example by adding herbs, dried fruit, bacon, cheese, onion... And Lorraine Pascale has a lovely sounding thyme and chorizo recipe on BBC Food