Fougasse is a French loaf, usually found in Provence, which I have been meaning to post for a number of weeks. The leaf shape and rustic quality of this bread is something that absolutely captivates me – it is incredibly pretty. As such, it was something that simply had to find its way to FrugalFeeding, since the quaintly rustic look of my food often belies my decorative deficiencies. As it is a cousin of the Italian focaccia it lends itself well to all manner of different flavourings. Rosemary is always a particularly good choice with bread, since its flavour appears to penetrate a loaf with devastating efficiency. Indeed, despite the fact that only a few sprigs of rosemary were employed in the making of this loaf, the flavour of the rosemary can be easily tasted throughout. The addition of plenty of good-quality bulk sea salt only adds to this. However, as I have already intimated, there is great scope for invention when it comes to bread. Olives, sun-dried tomatoes or chorizo would also make great additions to this superb bread.
Considering what goes into a loaf like this, the price one can be expected to pay in a bakery for such a delight is rather unfair. As you shall see, the cost of the necessary ingredients hardly amounts to anything at all. Yet, many specialist bakeries will charge in excess of £3 per loaf. Of course, such bakeries do need to turn a profit to stay above water in this rather tumultuous financial environment. However, perhaps if those with enough time on their hands – and I realise that not everyone has time enough to bake every few days – could be shown just how easy it is to make delicious bread, then more people would endeavour to do so, thus saving themselves plenty of money over the course of a year.
Rosemary and Sea Salt Fougasse
Makes 1 loaf
• 500g strong white bread flour
• Two 7g sachets of fast action dried yeast
• 280-300ml warm water
• A few pinches of sea salt
• A few sprigs of fresh rosemary and a little thyme
• Milk enough for brushing
1. In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, yeast and roughly 2 tsp of sea salt. Bring this together into a reasonably wet dough with the warm water. It should be dry enough to knead. Knead the dough for ten minutes, until smooth. Push several sprigs of fresh rosemary and thyme into the dough and continue to knead for another minute. Roll the dough out into and cut with a sharp knife (see pictures). Place in a floured baking tray, cover in oiled cling film and leave to rise for an hour or so.
2. Pre-heat the oven to 200C. Brush the raw dough with milk and scatter over a very large pinch of salt. Once the oven is hot, pop the loaf in to cook for 30-35 minutes. Spraying the oven with a little water first will avoid too dark a crust. The fougasse is ready when it is golden brown and sounds hollow when tapped. Enjoy with a little olive oil.
Cost: Let’s face it, flour is incredibly cheap. Indeed, this loaf should set one back no more than 50p – six times less than the price some bakeries expect us to pay. I’d certainly say that was worth a little of one’s time.