Sourdough was the breakout recipe back in spring but, the burning question is, are you bored of it yet?
For instance, have you considered the simple beauty of a Pain De Campagne? Savoured a homemade crusty and flavourful Baguette? Or, delighted in the Provençal charm of a Fougasse?
They may sound unusual and complex but fear not these babies are super easy to make
I’ll start with a fougasse because it’s so good with meze and tapas (the staples in our house because they’re so quick and easy to make!). Place it in the middle of your table and surround with cured hams, cheeses and dips and get ready to be in tear-and-share heaven!
Sure, sourdough would work as well but where’s the tear-and-share fun in that?
So, let your teeth have a rest (it’ll be for the best) and give these softer doughs a test : )
Today’s Bread Recipe – Fougasse
I’ll start with the artisan method today which is the pro-baker’s choice. If you’re short on time, the quick cheat method (coming tomorrow) is for you but, like any quick fix, the result won’t be as tasty
Most quality bakeries and restaurants use this method which incorporates a starter. A starter is a simple mixture of wheat flour, water and yeast (or sourdough culture) which is allowed to ferment for a period of time (a day in this case). The starter is added to bread dough as a substitute for more yeast. Pre-ferments, such as this, are critical for best tasting bread – the flavour and texture is nearly impossible to achieve without it. While it’s not a complex process, it’s not a quick one either. It takes over two days to complete because of the fermentation process but, to be fair, what’s the rush these days…
Prep time: 1-2 hours
Cooking time: less than 15 minutes
Serves: makes two loaves
Day 1 – The Starter
- 50g cold water
- 2g fresh yeast (or 1.5g dried yeast)
- 50g strong white bread flour
Day 2 – The Dough
- The Starter (see ‘Day 1’)
- 250g strong white bread flour
- 20g wholegrain rye flour
- 4g fine sea salt
- 4g fresh yeast (or 2g dried yeast)
- 140g cold water
The fougasse uses a classic baguette recipe with a slightly different method
Day 1 – The Starter
- In a bowl, mix the fresh yeast and water until fully combined (if using dried yeast, skip this step)
- Add flour and stir to fully combine (if using dried yeast – stir the yeast through the flour, then add the water, it’ll be easier to combine this way)
- Cover with cling film and leave at room temperature for 2 hours then place in the fridge overnight (for 12-24 hours)
Day 2 – The Dough
- Take your Starter out of the fridge and check for a bubbly consistency and slightly alcoholic aroma : )
- Combine in a bowl the two flours and the salt (if using dried yeast – stir the yeast through the flour as well)
- In an another bowl, mix the fresh yeast and water until combined (if using dried yeast, you’ll just need the water)
- Make a well in the centre of the flour and add the liquid and your Starter. Gently bring the dough together, which is easier said than done, I know! Here’s how I do it: gently move a wooden spoon in an increasingly-large circular motion to gradually pull in more of the dry ingredients around the edge of the well then, when the majority comes together, use a hand to gently move the sticky messy ball around the bowl to gather the remaining dry ingredients
- Remove the dough on to a work surface (tip: don’t add any flour to the work surface – it messes with the recipe)
- Use the heel of your hand to push and stretch the dough a good full arm’s length into the work surface for around 10 minutes. The longer the better as this creates the elasticity to shape your bread later on
- Place the dough back in to your bowl (if making two small loafs, divide the dough in half now), cover with cling film and leave at room temperature for an hour
- Gently shape the dough into a round by turning it over and over in your hands. Then it’s back in the bowl, cover with cling and leave to rest for 10 minutes
- Line a baking tray with baking parchment paper
- Uncover the dough and on the work surface stretch it out in to a flat oval shape
- Now — and here comes the fun part — make a traditional leaf pattern on the dough. Place your dough onto the tray and with a sharp knife (or pizza cutter) make a single cut down the centre of the dough, top to bottom, stopping around an inch from each end. Then make three cuts either side of the line to finish the leaf pattern
- Stretch the dough to widen the cuts and brush with olive oil
- Cover the baking tray with cling film and leave to prove for an hour
- Preheat your oven to 250C/fan 230C/gas mark 9 or as hot as it’ll go!
- Uncover the dough and if the cuts have started to join together gently pull them apart
- Place your tray in the oven and lightly spray inside the oven with water spray
- Bake for 12-14 minutes (or until the fougasse sounds hollow when tapped on the base)
- Remove from the oven, brush with a little more olive oil and add a sprinkle of sea salt
- Serve while still hot (perhaps with a selection of hams, cheeses and dips) and enjoy!
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