It’s been another cool and dull day here, the kind to stay indoors as much as possible and what better to do than get some baking done? I knew I hadn’t the need to think about dinner as that was going to be a take-out courtesy of our local Italian place The Bridge, they serve really great, high quality food which I don’t have to think twice about eating unlike many other sources of take-away food. Risotto was the order of the night, so I had to think about some bread.
Fougasse were my choice, even though it would require a little culinary globe trotting when we sat down to eat, never a bad thing though.
You wouldn’t think that mixing a four ingredients – yeast, water, salt and flour, would allow you to create something outstandingly pretty would you? To me all handmade (and especially home made) bread containing nothing but the essential and pure ingredients, plus a good dose of love, care and attention is beautiful but fougasse always leave people open mouthed in awe of how attractive they look.
Fougasse are a speciality bread of France (mainly the region of Provence), a flat bread in nature they are often slashed in a trellis pattern to resemble an ear of wheat or the tree of life, although fancy designs are becoming very popular. Whether this change in pattern is due to customer demand or the chance for bakers to show their skill I’m none too sure, but they sure do look good.
Fougasse are not all that dissimilar to the Italian equivalent of focaccia, a tray baked flat bread often studded with olives, herbs, or other flavouring. So maybe not so much globe trotting after all.
The fougasse made the perfect accompaniment to risotto, not only was it aesthetically pleasing to the eye but the bread was the perfect texture for mopping up the risotto ‘juices’, soaking them up like a sponge and becoming moist and scrumptious. They were also great to munch on ‘plain’ giving a nice alteration in mouth feel to the soft, creamy and soothing risotto.
The recipe is adapted from Dough: Simple Contemporary Bread: Simple Contemporary Bread (Richard Bertinet) which is an absolute gem of a book, especially for the novice baker. Don’t get me wrong there are lots of lovely recipe ideas and photographs included that would have any baker, experienced or not, drooling over the pages but Richard has a great way of describing techniques and terms in such a manner to inform and not worry the novice. The book also includes a fabulous DVD showing how these techniques are performed with a great commentary too.
Although the recipe called for standard strong bread flour I used French type 55 flour. I chose to do this because it gives a slightly softer and chewier dough which is excellent for fougasse.