Sunday, October 30, 2011

all about bread.fougasse

I love bread : French bread,some cheese, may be a few pieces of delicious salami and a glass of wine. This is one of my favorite comfort foods. When I was very small we lived in St. Remy in Provence. We bought our bread every day from the "boulangerie" so we had to get a few baguettes every day. It was a little walk from the house to the boulangerie but we did not own a car yet(can you believe it, my father was a captain in the merchant marine and we did not have a car ) . I have forgotten about a lot of things from that time but I did not forget the "boulangerie" and "la boulangere" Madame Blanc. When we went to get the bread for the day Madame Blanc would often  give us one delicious lollypop. The best ever. We called them" sucettes" and they were made by 'Pierrot Gourmand". They were displayed on a little stand with the figurine of the clown "Pierrot Gourmand" and I read somewhere that these stands have become  pieces of a collection and they are very expensive.    I went back to St Remy about 4 years ago ,  Madame blanc has been gone for a long time but the boulangerie is still here. On the pic on the right at the top you can see the street were the boulangerie is located and the sign over the shop.
Bread always has been very important in the life of french people and there is never a meal without bread on the table. When I go to France I always have  to visit the boulangerie in Antibes or Aix en Provence there so many different types of bread and" patisserie". It is just fun to look around and naturally to buy a few loafs.
By now you certainly get the idea that I love bread not only french bread but all kinds of bread. I like to experience with different types . Lately I am very fond of ciabatta which is delicious for sandwich,
I am not going to give you a recipe for french bread most french people do not bake their own bread they get it to the" boulangerie" which is better equipped to make bread. The ovens were always big giant brick ovens and there are still a few of them  and a pizza cooked in this oven is the best.
When I moved to the USA I really did miss my french bread and there was not much of any other bread but white loaf. Now things have definitely changed and it is possible to find delicious breads. Cosco has the most delicious frozen french baguettes. They are so practical. They can be thawed out in  about 10 mins and then popped in the oven and they are ready in about 15 mins . Publix has an excellent bakery and their breads are delicious.
I said I do not make french bread .but I make" Fougasse" the same bread italian make and call "focaccio".
"fougasse" is  very easy to make and does't need any special equipment.
here is my recipe for "fougasse

1 3/4 cup  warm water
1 package dry yeast
1 tbs sugar
5 cups all purpose flour and a little more for kneading
1 tbs Kosher salt
1 cup good virgin oil (a good tasting olive oil is very important in this recipe)
finally chopped rosemary

Place warm water in a bowl add the yeast and the sugar. Mix and let rest for about 15 minutes.
In a bowl combine the flour 1 tbs  of the salt ,1 cup of olive oil  the chopped rosemary and the yeast mixture. when the dough is mixed and has come together continue to knead together for a few minutes the dough should be smooth and soft. That operation could be done in a mixer but I like to play with the dough.
Put a plastic wrap over the bowl and let it stand for about 1 hour in a warm place.

punch down the dough and roll it in a thin rectangle use a rolling pin.
Place the dough on a  baking sheet cut some slits in the dough ,let raise for 30 minutes
Brush the top of the fougasse with the rest of the olive oil and some salt.
bake in a preheated oven at 425 degrees F for about 20 25 minutes
Notes :you can use different herbs for your fougasse , chopped dried tomatoes is also delicious.
           you can make a smaller fougasse and freeze the rest of the dough.
Easy and delicious!
printing recipe