Well! Did you think I’d given up? Like a bread phoenix, I rise from the bread ashes! Life has been a bit topsy-turvy, and I haven’t been able to bake for…a while. I apologize to everyone for the delay, but I’m back on track now.

This week, I made Fougasse for a delightful Detroit-based improviser and fellow Improv Utopia Picasso, Ruth Hiner.

Fougasse is a French flatbread, often baked with some herbs or other toppings. The dough is sticky and soft, but not terribly tricky. It requires very minimal kneading, and the whole thing start-to-finish only takes about two hours. This bread is best served warm, dipped in some high-quality olive oil and a bit of balsamic. Yes, it makes good avocado toast.

Fougasse (makes 2 flats):

Dough:

  • 499.7g All Purpose Flour (“AP flour”)
  • 8.3g granulated sugar
  • 2 packets active dry yeast
  • 12.2g salt
  • 2 cups warm water (100°F-110°F)
  • 1 tablespoon each basil, oregano, rosemary, black pepper
  • .25 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Gather your ingredients: As always, flour, water, salt, yeast. This time we’ll need some sugar, spices, and olive oil, as well. This is a pretty simple, basic bread, so nothing out of the ordinary in the ingredients list. You don’t need Morton’s, Fleischmann’s, King Arthur, or Domino brands. I’m just really shooting for the sponsorship. I definitely didn’t forget to include the olive oil in the ingredients shot…it’s just hiding behind the other stuff. Definitely.

Also, I’m in a different apartment now, so I’m still figuring out the lighting situation.

Start by combining the yeast, water, and sugar. Stir it up and let it sit for 5 minutes to proof. It’ll get nice and foamy. Meanwhile, mix the flour and salt up in a big bowl. Once the yeast is proofed and foamy, add it to the flour and salt. Mix hard, it’s gonna be a bit stiff. A sticky, loose dough will form. Let it sit for about 20 minutes; it should have started to rise a bit by the end of the time.

Once it’s started to rise, pour in the spices and olive oil.

Knead it up in the bowl until the oil and spices are well incorporated. The oil should start to coat your hands and prevent the sticky, making the dough easy to work with. It’s got some body to it, and it kneads easily. Once the oil and spices are mixed in real good, turn the dough out onto a clean surface. Divide the dough into two pieces, make it into a loose ball, and plop it down on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Shape it into a leaf shape. Obviously, I went with the shape of the leaf of the Southern Magnolia tree. You can do whatever leaf you want. Once they’re shaped, let them rise for about half an hour. In the meantime, preheat the oven to 400°.

Once they’ve risen for about 30 minutes and the oven is preheated, slash them in a leaflike pattern. If you’ve got a razor blade on hand, that’ll do best. My lame was missing, so I used a pizza cutter. It got the job done well enough. Slice down the spine of the leaf and a couple diagonal guys from there. Pull them apart as you slash so they separate.

Toss those bad boys in the oven for 15-20 minutes. Keep an eye on them and pull them out as they start to turn to a nice golden brown. Tapping the bottoms should sound hollow, and the tops will be a little soft.

 

Let it cool for a bit before slicing, but serve warm. Use your sharpest bread knife and just drag it back and forth, let the weight of the knife do the work — don’t push down. The crust and crumb are both very soft and shouldn’t need any real force to cut. Put some olive oil and balsamic in a dish, mix, dip, and go to town.

Thanks to Ruth for the request. See you all next week (probably)!


Short Steps List:

  1. Mix yeast, water, sugar, rest 5 minutes
  2. Mix flour, salt
  3. Combine yeast mixture with flour mixture
  4. Let rise 20 minutes
  5. Mix in oil, spices
  6. Shape into a leaf
  7. Rise 30 minutes, preheat to 400°
  8. Slash dough in leaf pattern
  9. Bake 15-20
  10. Serve warm with olive oil and balsamic

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