Having read TheLittleLoaf‘s blog about their fougasse the other night and having made some last year on my bread course (and never having made any since), I thought it was about time to dust off the oven gloves and make my own. The word fougasse is French for foccacia which is Italian for a really easy, single proof bread. Consequently it’s a great trick to have up your sleeve for an exciting and impressive dinner. Unfortunately, I was only impressing myself and TOH, but nevertheless it’s always nice making bread. It’s a very therapeutic process, all that kneading, rolling, bashing and then leaving it to prove and coming back to a big, pillowy blob. As I said, with normal bread, you’d get to go through this process twice, which is both doubly therapeutic and also terribly time-consuming, so for a school night a single rise is perfect.
The other great thing with fougasse is that you can stick absolutely anything you want either in or on them before they go in the oven. TheLittleLoaf did a plain one and a semi-dried tomato one, both elegantly simple. When I did my bread course, we used red onions, olives, rosemary – whatever was on the table ended up on there!
This time, I wanted one to accompany my butternut, feta, quinoa salad so I was going along the north African lines and decided to go with cumin seeds rolled in and mustard seeds on top. A simple combination, but one which was delicious when it was finished. It provided a nice warm (still from the oven) depth of spice to go with the light, fresh salad. Ah, those summer flavours.
Then, following a Twitter convo with TheLittleLoaf,who suggested a sweet version, I decided to do a salted chocolate version for pudding. The dough is relatively salty in the first place, as it should be for a foccacia-style dough, so that didn’t need much work, and all I did for the chocolate was to roll some 85% in while kneading before proof. Again, still warm from the oven is the only way to serve this taste sensation.
The chocolate was warm and melty, the salt in the dough and on top cutting through cleanly. I’ve always been a massive fan of taste and texture contrasts (the hot chip with the ketchup from the fridge being one of my favourites) so the sweet-salty combination was right up my street. I ‘served’ it with some fresh raspberries – again, acting as something fresh to cut through the slightly solid dough.
It was, perhaps, one of my best attempts at bread from a flavour combination, certainly better than my Rachel Allen ‘fake-accia’ the other week which didn’t even merit a photo. I definitely need to work on my presentation though. My ear of wheat (the traditional shape for a fougasse) looking far too heavy and solid when compared to the beauties I used to see on stalls in the south of France years ago. But as far as taste goes, they were a hit, and form can come later.