Fougasse is the stunning staple flat bread from the French Provence. What an experience to bite into a crunchy, crisp crust only to discover a soft, chewy crumb. Could it possibly be the cousin of the iconic Italian focaccia? Although usually prepared with the addition of dried herbs, olives, sometimes cheese and lardon (bacon), today we will make a very simple, basic version on which to build on later. Let's get started!
In a large bowl mix the bread flour with the Molino Denti flour. Create a well in the center of the flour, as shown in the video.
Pour the water, yeast and olive oil in the center and begin mixing ingredients together. Make sure to reserve a little bit of water for when the salt is added.
Sprinkle the surface of the dough with the salt and add the remaining water. Begin to squeeze the salt into the dough, as shown in the video.
At this point the dough will look shaggy and lumpy. Cover with a wet towel and allow to rest for 10-15 minutes.
Uncover the dough and give it a few stretch and folds, as shown in the video. It will be evident that with each resting time the dough will be easier to work with and become smoother and more cohesive. Do this resting and folding two more times with a 10-15 minute pause in between.
Transfer the dough on the work surface. Work it by either kneading it for a few minutes, or using the slap and fold method. With wet, sticky dough the latter works great.
Place the dough in a food safe container that has been lightly oiled, cover, and allow to proof for about 45 minutes. After this time, transfer the container into the refrigerator overnight where the fermentation will be slowed down and flavor improved. This technique is also called cold proofing the dough.
The following day remove the dough from the refrigerator. Generously dust both the work surface and the top of the dough in the container. With the help of a bench knife slide down along the edges of the container by gently loosening the dough from the sides.
With a quick and decisive movement invert the container on the dusted work surface, and allow the dough to gently come out. Make sure not to fold the dough over itself.
With a bench knife, divide the dough either into fourths, in half or even in smaller pieces. Be careful not to degas the dough when dividing.
Once divided, transfer one piece of dough on a well dusted peel. Use an equal mixture of semolina flour and all purpose flour or corn flour and all purpose flour to dust the peel.
Gently stretch each piece of dough in order to shape it into a rough triangle. Do not degas! Create the classic "head of wheat" with a bench knife. This process is shown in the video.
Once the slits have been made in the dough, gently stretch the flat bread out to emphasize the design. Brush the dough with olive oil, and sprinkle with salt.
With the help of the brass-bristled oven brush, clean the surface of the oven floor where the Fougasse will be placed. Slide the flat bread in the oven by placing the peel in the back of the oven and decisively pull back leaving the Fougasse intact. Bake for about 15 minutes. Make sure to rotate the bread halfway through for even baking. Remove from the oven once the bread is beautifully golden brown. Before serving brush once again with olive oil. Enjoy!