Fougasse is a traditional southern French flatbread that can be flavored with herbs, olives, and lardons (fried bacon or pork belly). Since I’m not big on olives or pork belly, and I wanted to give my physical therapist a loaf, I opted to make my version with Herbes de Provence. As it turns out, my physical therapist doesn’t like olives either so I’m glad I went with the herbs. I incorporated the herbs in the dough and left the outside plain so I could serve it toasted and spread with Roasted Red Pepper Spread and shaved parmesan cheese.
We had the option of using whatever dough we wanted so I chose Baguette dough from Chad Robertson’s Tartine Bread. I loved working with this dough. It’s buttery smooth. I made the rustic ladder shape (demonstrated in Tartine Bread) rather than the festive ear-of-wheat-shaped loaf. I’ll have to try the other shape next time because it makes for a beautiful display.
I wanted to give a loaf to my physical therapist because she’s been helping me get the strength back in my left arm. I got tennis elbow from gardening (and other activities) this past Spring, and I’ve been in pain for months. I started physical therapy a few weeks ago and I’m almost pain free. Not quite, but I’m getting there. I can lift some things now without wincing with pain or dropping them on the floor. Soon, I’ll be able to knead dough by hand instead of using the stand mixer. I can’t wait! Don’t get me wrong, the stand mixer is a great tool, but there’s just something so therapeutic about working and kneading the dough with your hands.
This dough doesn’t require any kneading so I was able to use my hands, literally, to incorporate the dough and then fold and turn it in the bowl during the 3-4 hour fermentation period. This dough is easy enough to turn in the bowl using just one hand.
Fougasse made with Baguette Dough
Makes: 3 Loaves
Adapted from: Tartine Bread by Chad Robertson
- 200 grams all-purpose flour
- 200 grams water
- 1/2 teaspoon instant yeast
- 1 tablespoon mature starter
- 220 grams all-purpose flour
- 220 grams water
- 400 grams Leaven
- 500 grams water
- 400 grams poolish
- 650 grams all-purpose flour
- 350 grams bread flour
- 24 grams salt
- rice flour for dusting
Make the poolish: In a bowl, mix the flour, water, and yeast. Let stand for 3 to 4 hours at a warm room temperature (75 to 80 degrees F.) or overnight in the refrigerator. I opted to retard the poolish in the refrigerator overnight so it would be ready at the same time as the leaven.
Make the leaven: Place the mature starter in a bowl and feed it with the flour and water. Cover the bowl with a kitchen towel and let the starter rise overnight at a cool room temperature (65 degrees F.)
The poolish and the leaven will be ready to use once they pass the float test. The next morning, I tested the leaven first and it passed the float test right away.
The poolish had to warm up to room temperature and then it passed the float test.
You only need 400 grams of the leaven for this bread so you can refresh the remainder and maintain it as your starter.
Make the Baguette Dough:
Pour warm water into a large bowl. Add the poolish and the leaven and stir to disperse.
Add the all-purpose and bread flour. Use your hands to mix the dough until all of the dry bits of flour have been incorporated. I started out using a Danish Dough Whisk, but found out pretty quickly that I was going to have to finish it with my hands.
So I wet my hand and worked the dough until no dry bits of flour remained. Let the dough rest for 25 to 40 minutes.
Transfer the dough to a plastic container or a larger bowl and begin the bulk fermentation. The temperature should be about 75 degrees F. Turn the dough about every 40 minutes using this method. Add the salt and the herbs with the first turn. I added the salt first and thoroughly incorporated it into the dough.
Then I added about 3 teaspoons of Herbes de Provence and mixed it in with my hands.
Let the dough bulk ferment for 3 to 4 hours.
When the bulk fermentation is complete, transfer the dough to a lightly floured work surface.
Divide the dough into pieces using this method. I divided it into three equal pieces. Shape each piece into a rectangle with rounded corners. Let rest on the work surface for 30 minutes.
Working with one dough rectangle at a time, fold the third of the dough closest to you up and over the middle third. Holding the ends of the dough, stretch it slightly. Fold the right third of the dough over the middle of the dough, and then fold the left third over the middle and the previous fold. Next, fold the third of the dough farthest from you over the middle as if closing the flap of an envelope. Press on this flap to develop tension in the dough. Using your palms and fingers together, roll the dough toward you; with each successive roll, press with the outer edge of your palms and fingers to further develop tension in the dough. You should end up with a slightly rectangular cylinder with the seam facing down. Using a bench knife, flip the loaf onto a flour-dusted kitchen towel so that the seam is facing up.
Press out the dough until it is about 1 1/2 inches thick. Let rise for 2 to 3 hours.
Place a baking stone on the middle rack of the oven and a steam pan underneath and preheat the oven to 500 degrees F. Transfer the fougasse loaves to a flour-dusted pizza peel. I used parchment paper.
Using a bench knife, make a pattern of cuts in the dough, pushing the knife until it touches the peel and being careful not to cut through the edge of the dough.
Stretch the cut areas to create openings.
Slide the loaves onto the heated baking stone. I baked the loaves one at a time. Pour hot water into the steam pan and quickly close the oven door. Immediately reduce the oven temperature to 475 degrees F. Bake the loaves for about 25 to 30 minutes until they are deep golden brown color.
Serve warm from the oven or let the loaves cool on a wire rack. I did both.
I tried a slice of this bread right away and it was good, but it tasted much better the next day. I brought a loaf to my sister’s house and we enjoyed it with the roasted red pepper spread. I forgot to take a photo of the bread with the red pepper spread, but my sister thought it was delicious. I thought so too.
I really enjoyed making and eating this bread. Thanks to Elizabeth of Our Kitchen for hosting the BBB this month.