Fougasse aux Herbes de Provence

This recipe is the same one from the BBC recipe for Fresh Herb Fougasse. The only difference is that I used Herbes de Provence in place of the fresh herbs. It was enjoyable to make this, and irresistible to eat.

I figured that since Fougasse is the French equivalent to Italian focaccia, why not add the French herb and spice mixture, Herbes de Provence? I was glad I did. After baking, I was able to tear off about 1/4th to eat with some chicken soup that Ben made. Then I froze the rest so that I can just tear off a few pieces and reheat them anytime we need a little bread on the side with a meal.

fougasse aux herbes de provence

ingredients

500g bread flour, plus extra for dusting

10g fine salt

7g active dry yeast

2 Tablespoon olive oil, plus extra for greasing and drizzling

12 fluid ounces warm water

2 Tablespoons Herbes de Provence, plus extra to finish

combination of bread flour and fine semolina, for dusting (I subbed corn meal for the semolina)

sea salt flakes, crushed, to finish

method

Grease a large plastic container with olive oil. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper. Set aside.

Place the active dry yeast in a bowl with a pinch of sugar and add the lukewarm water and stir to dissolve the sugar and get the yeast wet. Leave undisturbed in the bowl for about 10 minutes until the mixture is bubbly and frothy. 

Pour about 3/4th of the yeast water mixture into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook and add the flour and salt and olive oil, in that order. The reason is to avoid having the salt directly in contact with the yeast. 

Turn on the mixer and begin on low speed. As the dough starts to form, add the rest of the yeast water mixture slowly, then increase the speed to medium and let the mixer go for about 8 minutes. 

Towards the end of the 8 minutes, mix in the Herbs de Provence and let the herb mixture mix into the dough for about a minute or so. 

Remove dough from mixer bowl using a scraper or spatula and place into the prepared greased container and cover and let rise for about an hour until doubled in size. Dough should be bouncy and shiny.

Mix equal quantities of white flour and semolina together (I used corn meal because I didn’t have semolina) and sprinkle on a clean work surface or counter. Carefully tip out the dough unto the work surface. It will be quite loose and flowing, but don’t worry. Divide the dough in half.

Lift each piece of dough onto the prepared baking sheets and spread out into flat ovals. Using a pizza cutter make two cuts in a line down the middle of the ovals with a gap between them, stopping about 1 inch before each end.

Make 12 diagonal cuts in the dough, 6 on either side of the central cuts, forming a leaf design, then stretch the dough out slightly to emphasise the holes.

Cover each baking sheet with plastic loosely and leave to proof in a warm place for 20 minutes. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Place a very small pan on the bottom rack in the oven to heat it up to place ice chips when baking the fougasse to create steam.

When ready to bake, spritz or spray  a little olive oil over the top of the loaves using a water spray bottle, or just drizzle over the oil. Sprinkle over a little more of the Herbs de Provence.

Place about a cup of ice chips into the pan on the bottom rack and bake for 15–20 minutes, or until the fougasse sounds hollow when tapped on the base. If your oven is not big enough for both baking sheets, bake one fougasse at a time. Remove from the oven and while still hot, brush with more olive oil and sprinkle with the flaky sea salt.

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