Sunday, October 16, 2011

Leaf Bread for Fall

The bodacious Bread Baking Babes are celebrating autumn this month by baking Fougasse, a delightful leaf-shaped bread, at the invitation of Elizabeth of blog from OUR kitchen, our Kitchen of the month.

Our regular posting day, the 16th of the month, coincides this month with World Bread Day, the annual event that encourages us to bake bread. We are asked also to honor the fact that we have enough food, a situation that isn't true for too many people in the world.

So today we celebrate both World Bread Day and baking with the Babes by baking fougasse, a shaped flatbread.

Fougasse is perfect for fall since it is traditionally shaped like a leaf, with the dough cut and stretched in such a way that, once baked, there is a lot of crustiness. That's a lovely thing in a flatbread like this, especially if you are serving it as an appetizer as I did, or with a nice cooler weather soup or stew.

Elizabeth gave us a couple of choices for the bread dough but indicated that we could also use our own recipe. I'd posted a foccacia recipe during the winter of 2008 and it used sourdough starter, so that's what I used. It made enough dough for me to make two loaves each of two variations. I was inspired by a fougasse that fellow Babe Susan of Wild Yeast had made which used gorgonzola cheese and figs to add flavor and texture to a fougasse which included rye flour.

I only used unbleached bread flour... no rye or other fancy flours this time... and paired the gorgonzola cheese with chopped walnuts. The result was awesome! There was no need for any additional butter or oil, although we did find that some slices of Golden Delicious apple went really well with that version of fougasse.

As Elizabeth days, "Because fougasse is baked on a stone instead of on an oiled pan, there are more crispy bits. Not too crispy though... it's juuuuust right! Of course, it can be cut with a knife but we think that fougasse tastes better torn apart."

The other half of the dough was flavored with freshly chopped herbs...Italian parsley, basil, and rosemary. I'm grateful to have not only enough for myself and Sweetie, but enough to share. I gave one of the herbed loaves to our renter because she loves bread and is on a fixed income so it helps her stretch her food budget a bit, too. Seems appropriate as we honor World Bread Day.

Try baking this easy and delicious Fougasse'll be glad you did. There is only one rising, only a few ingredients, and trying out the shaping is fun and gives you another skill in the kitchen. You can choose your own additions or bake it plain and slather on the butter or dip the torn pieces of fougasse bread in a mixture of good olive oil and balsamic vinegar for an Italian touch. If you do bake it this month (by October 29th) be sure and send an e-mail with a link to your post (or a description of the bread and if you liked making it added to the e-mail if you don't blog) and a photo of the finished bread to Elizabeth to become a Bread Baking Buddy. She'll send you a badge and include you in the roundup.

Elizabeth was daring and baked her fougasse on a grill. I baked mine in the oven. Since I was using a baking stone (actually a pizza stone)

I shaped each leaf on a piece of baking parchment which I had laid on a wooden tray. Each was covered with oiled plastic wrap to rise. No corn meal was used on the parchment paper since I slid the bread and parchment paper on to the baking stone, then removed the loaf directly to the stone half way through baking (throwing the used parchment away).

Each loaf was shaped to fit the stone and they were baked one at a time. One day I'll have to spring for a larger stone so that I can bake two at a time. I also added moisture at the start of baking to help with crust development. I put ice cubes into a pie plate below the baking stone, plus sprayed the walls of the oven with water when I put the loaves in. The latter part of the baking time was done without the steam.

Now that you've heard how I did it, do visit the blogs of the other Bread Baking Babes (see links to the right). I'm also sending this over to Susan at Wild Yeast for the weekly Yeastspotting event. This week is sure to be a good one with entries from lots of World Bread Day posts, so check it out.

Sourdough Focaccia (with instructions for making Gorgonzola-Walnut Fougasse and Fresh Herb Fougasse)

2 cups 100% hydration sourdough starter
4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 cup water, divided
1/4 teaspoon active dry yeast
4 - 5.5 cups unbleached bread flour
2 teaspoons salt
additions like cheese, nuts, herbs, citrus peels, olives, etc.

In the bowl of a stand mixer place the sourdough starter. Add 3 tablespoons of the olive oil and mix briefly with the paddle attachment just until the oil is mixed in.

Make sure the water is lukewarm. Take 1/4 cup of it and add the dry yeast. Let sit 5 minutes until foamy.

Add the yeast, the rest of the warm water, and about half the flour. Mix with the paddle.

Switch to the dough hook. On slow speed add the flour, a half cup or so at a time, adding only a few tablespoons at a time toward the end. The dough will be soft. Add the salt and then knead with the dough hook on low to medium low speed for about 6 minutes, until the dough cleans the sides of the bowl and is smooth. Turn out on a lightly floured board or counter and knead in most of the rosemary, leaving about a teaspoon for the top.

Form the dough into a ball. Oil a large bowl (not metal) and turn the dough ball in the oil to coat. Cover with plastic wrap and place in a warm place and let rise until doubled in bulk. It took mine four hours, but even my 'warm' place wasn't as warm as it should have been.

Punch dough down, turn out of the bowl onto a lightly floured surface, knead a few time to get rid of the extra trapped gas.

At this point check out the directions below to make fougasse. To make focaccia, follow this link.

These were the instructions we were given. Notes on my variations are in italics below:

1. Mix, knead and allow your favourite bread dough to rise to double (I used the focaccia recipe above). If you are adding anything like olives, sun-dried tomatoes, onions, caramelized garlic cloves and/or walnuts, mix them into the dough near the end of kneading it or on the first turn of the dough (I added mine once the dough had risen and was ready to shape...just kneading the cheese and nuts into half the dough, then cutting that dough ball in half and shaping each into a leaf shape...then doing the same for the other half of the dough by adding the herbs for the second two loaves which were each shaped into a leaf shape:

for the nut/cheese versions:
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 cup crumbled gorgonzola cheese

for the herbed:
1 tablespoon EACH chopped Italian parsley, basil and rosemary).

2. If you are wanting herbs/spices on top, please add them just before baking.

3. Shaping: About an hour before baking the fougasse, turn the dough out onto a lightly floured board and press it out into an oval (or a rectangle; or a circle). Using a floured rolling pin, roll the dough out until it is about 1 cm (1/2 in.) thick. (I shaped it into a tall triangle.)

4. Sprinkle corn meal (to act as ball-bearings) on the peel - or an upside-down cookie sheet. Lay the shaped dough on the peel. Using a pizza wheel and "swift, decisive strokes" cut a design of a leaf or ladder into the dough. Take care not to cut through the outer edges. From the edges, pull the dough outwards to make sure the cuts are spaced. (I used parchment paper instead, but the dough with a stiff plastic scraper, then gently spread out the dough to open up the cuts to create the leaf shapes...sort of triangular)

Cover with a clean tea towel followed by a plastic grocery bag and allow to rise. (Robertson allows the shaped bread to rise first and does the slashes at the last minute. Naturally, because of my stellar reading skills, I didn't notice that until I had already made fougasse several times by slashing it directly after shaping it.) (I did notice that I had to open up {gently} some of the gaps that had closed up during the rising time. Since my loaves were on parchment and covered with oiled plastic wrap, it was easy to uncover them and gently move the dough to open up the shape again.)

5. Just Before Baking: Drizzle with olive oil and scatter coarsely ground sea salt over top. (You can also do this step just after the bread is baked; that is what Robertson suggests. Or you can forget to add the olive oil at all, as I did the last time.) (I skipped the olive oil and salt part since the additions were flavorful enough.)

6. Baking in the Oven: Put a pizza stone on the middle or top shelf of the oven and turn it to 400F (200C) (I used 450 degrees and added steam with ice cubes and water spray for extra crunch in the crust). Transfer the fougasse onto the hot stone and bake for about 15 minutes, turning it around at least once to account for uneven oven heat. (You may need 20 minutes or more of baking time if you want a darker crust.)

7. When the fougasse done, remove it from the heat and allow to cool on a well-ventilated rack. To serve, break it apart and dip it into good quality olive oil with herbs if you want.

Thank you Elizabeth for a wonderful, delicious, will-make-this-again challenge. My only other attempt at making fougasse was a dud so it was a lot of fun to do it again and discover that it is a great bread. The ultimate test is how quickly it is gone. All four loaves were finished in less than two days (with Straight Shooter having almost a whole one for breakfast yesterday!) so it truly was a success.


  1. Sorry, no time for a long comment. I'm on my way to the store for gorgonzola, walnuts and I think some figs!

    That looks fabulous!

  2. Oh what a great great plan you had! gorgonzola and walnuts and figs.. swoon!

    Tanna.... get me some if you're going!
    (I do think that loaf/leaf is winking at me in that first pic!)

  3. The gorgonzola and walnut one sounds wonderful, Elle. And what a great idea to serve it with apples. (I have had Susan's gorgonzola fig fougasse bookmarked for ages. Why oh why haven't I made it yet??)

    And I really like how your fougasse is shaped to echo the pattern on the cloth. BBBrilliant.

  4. Great flavours! Love the cheese and nuts combo, as well as the herby one. Brilliant!

  5. Looks beautiful. Love seeing all these bread shapes. This looks perfect for tearing off chunks to dip in soup and houmous. The perfect mix of crust and fluffy centre.

  6. It looks so easy - and crusty and crunchy and perfect for soup.... I see this in my future (sadly, without a pizza stone...)

  7. Sounds amazing a fougasse with gorgonzala and walnuts! And they look wonderful :)

  8. Wonderful earthy fall flavors. Perefect fougasse!

  9. Lol, my stone is only sized for one loaf as well. Love your additions!