Repeat posting – The Fougasse!

Here’s another bread recipe I like, to encourage people to make their own bread. Normally, this is a bacon and onion fougasse, but what I have made here is a vegetarian variation. It’s not that I don’t love bacon, you understand. I’m just eating it less often…

The recipe is a variation on the bacon and onion fougasse recipe printed on the back of bags of Allinson’s Very Strong Bread Flour. You don’t have to have exactly that kind of flour, if you live somewhere that doesn’t have supplies of Allinson’s flour, as long as you use a strong white bread flour, this will work.

You’ll need flour, a sachet of yeast, hand-hot water, olive oil, salt, an onion, garlic (optional), sun-dried tomatoes and black olives. You’ll also need a mixing bowl, a tray to bake them on, a frying pan, and an oven to bake them in.

  • Chop the onion finely, and fry it gently in a tablespoon of olive oil, along with the sun-dried tomatoes, which you should cut into thin strips, and the finely chopped garlic. When you feel they have been done enough, let them all cool.
  • While the frying is going on, put 400g of flour, up to 1½ teaspoons of salt, and a 7g sachet of dried yeast in the bowl. Add 175ml of hand-hot water and 75ml of olive oil.
  • Add the cooled, fried ingredients, and the chopped olives, and mix until you have a fine dough. I use a hand held mixer with two dough hooks for this. It will look like this…
  • Tip the dough out onto the work surface, and knead it until it is smooth. I know, it’s rather lumpy with all those tasty ingredients in it, but just knead it until you think it looks right.
  • Cut it into three or four roughly equal pieces, and shape each of them into an oval. Press them fairly flat, a couple of centimetres thick, and put them on an oiled baking tray.
  • With a sharp knife, cut two long deep slashes down the centre of each piece, and then several slashes on each side, to make a leaf pattern. Here are the ones I did this morning…

  • Now, cover them with oiled cling-film, and put them somewhere warm to rise. They need to double in size, more or less, and this will probably take twenty minutes to half an hour. Put the oven on to preheat while this is going on, set to 220°C, or 200°C for a fan oven.
  • Here they are after rising…

  • Bake your fougasses in the middle of the oven for 15 to 20 minutes. You should end up with something like these…

I forgot to tell you one of the ingredients I used! Herbs go well in this bread, and you can put them in the flour, at the beginning. These ones contain Greek oregano, which goes very well with the tomatoes and olives. You can use whatever herbs you are fond of, of course.

Fougasses go very nicely with a vegetable soup…

Repeat posting – Focaccia

I fancied a different kind of bread today, so I searched out a recipe I had saved from the Observer Magazine back in 2009. It’s wondrously easy to make focaccia, and it doesn’t take all that long, either. The results certainly look impressive….

The recipe is a Nigel Slater one, but it’s very similar to all the other focaccia recipes I looked at. You need bowl to mix it in, a container to bake it in and a worktop to knead it on.

The container needs to be a couple of inches, or 5cm, deep, and about ten inches, or 24cm across. I used a round one, but use what you have….

  • Put 450g of strong bread flour in a bowl, with up to 1½ teaspoons of salt (I used quite a bit less, as I have fairly high blood pressure) and a 7g sachet of fast-acting yeast.
  • Add 400ml of warm (not hot, it’ll kill the yeast) water.
  • Mix it into a sticky dough.
  • Put flour on your work surface, tip out the dough onto it, and knead it for five minutes. There’s no special technique, just keep folding it over and stretching it out. If it sticks to the surface, put more flour down. You can stop kneading when the dough doesn’t stick to the work surface any more.
  • Put some flour in your bowl, and put the dough back in. Cover it with cling-film or a tea towel, and wait until it doubles in size. Up to an hour, if your kitchen is at a normal sort of temperature.
  • Put the oven on at 220°C, or maybe as low as 200°C for a fan oven. Ovens vary, and you just need to get used to the one you are using.
  • Lightly oil your baking tin, and sprinkle it with cornmeal (polenta, ground maize) to stop the bread sticking.
  • Put the dough in the tin, cover it loosely with cling-film, and let it rise for half an hour.
  • While it rises, chop up some green olives, garlic, parsley, and thyme. Mix them into a tablespoon of olive oil.
  • When the dough has risen, put flour on your fingers, and push them into it, quite deeply, in an artistic fashion. Or clumsily, if you prefer. Sprinkle the oily olive and herb mixture on the top.
  • Bake it for about half an hour. It should be pale gold on top, and crispy.
  • Drizzle it with more olive oil, if you like. Let it cool.
  • Eat it.
Mine came out like this. I was hoping for more variation in the size of the holes, but maybe there are bigger ones further in. The olives and garlic on top seem a little bit crisp, but I’m pretty pleased with this one.