Monday, December 27, 2010

Herbed Fougasse

S told me the friends we were eating by for lunch were having a wine and cheese sort of meal and so she asked me if I would bake a bread for it. Of course I agreed and was so excited because it's not often that I get to bake bread these days if it's not challah. I wanted a bread that would go well with wine and cheese and would be just as elegant. My first thought was flatbread and my second thought was like turning on a light switch-- fougasse! French, fancy, and with a shape that looks like a ladder, appears to demand a lot of effort. Perfect! A scan through all of my cookbooks came up with many fougasses but none that appealed to me. Walnut fougasse? Olive fougasse? Not this time. I settled on a simple herbed fougasse from Sur La Table's too heavy to lift, The Art and Soul Baking. I was pleasantly surprised how not difficult this bread is to make. It begins with a biga that is left to ferment overnight and then all the remaining ingredients are added, including olive oil and dried herbs (my preference, no fresh rosemary and thyme in the shuk), and the rest is standard bread making. Shaping the bread was so much fun and I was so surprised that the shape held! S was so proud and impressed when she saw it, as were her friends. To quote her, the bread was crisp and wonderfully spiced and went great with the sharp cheeses and wine. A home run, I'd say. One note on storing this bread- do not cover in plastic wrap to store it unless the bread is cut. In that case cover only the cut parts. When covered with plastic wrap, some moisture deposits on the surface leaving some funky white spots. Otherwise, you should be good to go! I'm sending this over to Yeastspotting!

Herbed Fougasse
slightly adapted from The Art and Soul of Baking

1/2 cup water
1/8 tsp instant yeast
1 cup minus 1 tbsp flour

1/2 cup warm water
1/4 tsp instant yeast
2  tbsp olive oil
1 1/4 cups plus 1 tbsp flour
1 1/2 tsp dried rosemary
1 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp salt

To finish the bread:
1 tbsp olive oil
fleur de sel
1 tsp mixture of dried rosemary and thyme

The night before baking, combine all of the biga ingredients in a bowl. Mix and knead until a smooth dough is formed. Cover with plastic wrap and allow to ferment overnight at room temperature, up to twelve hours or twenty four hours in the fridge.

On bake day, place all the dough ingredients and the biga in a mixing bowl.
Knead until a shaggy dough forms. Cover and allow to rest for twenty minutes. Finish kneading until a smooth dough is formed. Grease the dough and turn to coat.
Allow to rise until doubled, about one and a half to two hours. Gently deflate and shape the dough.
On a piece of parchment place the dough. Stretch it into a large triangle. Let the dough rest for fifteen minutes before slashing.
Using a knife, make a long slash down the dough and three slashes on either side of the long slash. Use your fingers to stretch each slash open. Cover and let rise an additional thirty to forty minutes.
Preheat your oven to 425 with a baking stone in it. Allow it time to heat sufficiently. When youre ready to bake, brush the bread with the remaining olive oil and sprinkle with the fleur de sel and herb mixture.
Bake the loaf for 20-25 minutes until the loaf is golden brown. Its internal temperature should register 200 degrees on a thermometer. Cool completely on a wire rack.Slice with a serrated knife or tear of with your hands. Enjoy with cheese and wine!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I love fougasse, and I need to get The Art and Soul of Baking. Looks great!