Something about making Italian dinner always excites me; especially pesto. I never make pesto in small quantities – when I go hungry, I spread it over toast, place some cut tomato and cheese slice on top; a quick snack that tastes like a million bucks, actually even better.
Over the weekend I made farfalle in pesto with roasted cherry tomatoes and button mushrooms. And a dish like that is incomplete without bread. Bread that is not focaccia or ciabatta, because those seemed like predictable choices.
Fougasse is a leaf-shaped bread from Provençal region of France, made out of dough that is not vastly different from focaccia. Cuisines hailing from borders of two different regions have always fascinated me.
As the grey skies of Lyon and Comté regions beautifully shape shift into a turquoise blanket that shines over the Mediterranean waters of Provence, the flavours too become perkier, of pungency from the salty sea water, shadowed a little by Italy.
Fougasse is one such tear and share bread that has its roots in Rome and is claimed to be an older version of Pizza, without tomato. It is a festive bread, predominantly topped with olives and Provençal herbs, brushed with olive oil and sprinkled with sea salt just before it goes into the oven.
- 180 g (1/3×6 cups) all-purpose flour
- 2 tsp active dry yeast
- 1.5 tbsp olive oil
- 160 ml water, lukewarm
- 2 tsp salt
- 6 black olives, chopped
- 2 sundried tomatoes, chopped,
- 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- Pinch of dried herbs
- Sea salt, to sprinkle
- Divide the warm water in half. In one half, add yeast. Allow to rest for 5 minutes.
- Pour the remaining water into a large bowl. Add the olive oil. Mix to combine.
- Whisk flour and salt in a separate bowl.
- Combine the creamy, yeast mixture with the olive oil – water mixture.
- Add half the flour mixture into the yeast mixture. Mix with a rubber spatula just until combined.
- Attach dough hooks to your electric beater or stand mixer. Add the remaining flour to the bowl and begin to beat on low speed for 3 minutes.
- When the dough starts coming together, beat on medium-high for 10 minutes. If the dough doesn’t come together, add a spoon or two of flour as you go.
- Form a ball out of the dough. Place the dough in a large, greased bowl. Cover with cling film and allow to rice in a warm place for 1 ½ hour.
- After the first rise is done, gently fold the dough onto itself. Cover again with cling film and allow to rise for 45 minutes.
- After the second rise, fold the dough onto itself again, cover with cling film and place in the refrigerator at least for 24 hours. You can refrigerate up to 3 hours.
- Take the dough out 1 ½ hours before baking. Preheat the oven to 225 C.
- Sprinkle a bread tray with corn meal or semolina (rava).
- You don’t want to knock out all that lovely air in the dough. So gently lift it with your left fist (right, if you are left handed), and circle it around your fist with your other hand.
- Drag and pinch the edges gently, you are aiming to get a 10 inch teardrop/leaf shaped dough.
- Place it over the tray. To make the veins, using a sharp knife, make three vertical slits in the centre. Make three slashes on both the sides of the leaf (see pic above)
- Brush with oil. Place the olives and sundried tomatoes. Sprinkle dried herbs and sea salt.
- Bake in the oven for 30 minutes or until the top is golden and bubbly. Pour water in the bottom tray of the oven to get a crusty top.