Fougasse

Makes 2 loaves
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Indy Lifestyle Online


Is fougasse, the famous hearth bread of Provence, poised to be the new focaccia? Sainsbury's do one baked with caramelised onions and cheese and I'm always tempted to grab a loaf when I see them in stock, as they tend not to hang around on the shelves too long.

It's a simple rustic bread, flat enough to be topped with olives, herbs or, as I've done here, some gently cooked sliced onions and cheese. You can add a percentage of wholegrain flour if you wish, or just use strong bread flour.

300g strong white bread flour
100g whole wheat flour
1tsp salt
1 x 7g sachet easybake or dried yeast
75ml olive oil
225ml warm water

for the onion and cheese version

2 onions, sliced
Knob of butter
50g Gruyère or Emmental, grated

If you're doing the onion and cheese version, gently cook the onions in the butter for 10 minutes in a pan with the lid on, stirring every so often, until the onions are soft and almost caramelised. Put to one side.

Put all the bread ingredients into a food mixer with the dough hook attachment. Mix to a soft dough and knead for 5 minutes on a f low speed. You may need to stop the machine occasionally and scrape the sides of the bowl so that everything gets mixed. Or mix by hand until the mixture forms a smooth dough and knead for 10 minutes.

Shape the dough into two rough oval shapes and make 3 slits across the bread with a knife, cutting right through the dough. Stretch it with your hands and a rolling pin to about 30cm long. Put the loaves on to greased baking sheets, cover with cling film or a clean tea towel and leave in a warm place to prove until doubled in volume. Allow up to an hour for this.

Pre-heat the oven to 190ºC/375ºF/gas mark 5. Then bake for 30 minutes. If you're adding the cheese and onion or another topping, take the bread out of the oven just before it's done, sprinkle the flavourings evenly over the bread, and return to the oven for 5 minutes. Eat the bread as soon as you can.

As an alternative to caramelised onions and cheese, try adding olives, rosemary, baked cloves of garlic (bake in their skins but remove these before adding to the dough), cooked pieces of bacon and onions. Press them into the almost cooked loaf and put them somewhere warm for a few hours to dry out more, then store them in a sealed tin or container.

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