Leaf-Shaped Fougasse

Leaf-shaped fougasse
Leaf-shaped fougasse

I’m fascinated by leaf shapes in baking. Which is why I often find myself cutting these patterns on bread dough.:) And it helps that the recipe is the same as foccacia which a bread that I bake more often than other breads.This started when I bought the book Baking With Julia by Dorie Greenspan. There are still many recipes that I’ll try out and of course I started with the easier ones. In my family, the younger generation do not need rice at every meal and I love to bake for them. Seeing the joy on the faces of my nieces and nephews on receiving a leaf-shaped bread is wonderful indeed.

Leaf-shaped fougasse
Leaf-shaped fougasse made on another occasion

According to Wiki, in French cuisine, fougasse is a kind of flat bread associated with Provence but also found with variations in other regions. Fougasse was traditionally used to assess the temperature of a wood-fired oven. The time it would take to bake gave an idea of the oven temperature and whether the rest of the bread could be loaded.
3 cups flour (I used 2 parts all-purpose and 1 part wheat flour)
1/2 tsp sugar
1 tbs dried yeast
1/2 tsp salt
About 300ml lukewarm water
3 tbs extra virgin olive oil + extra for brushing
12-15 pitted olives, patted dry and chopped
1 tbs dried thyme
2 red chillies, seeds discarded and chopped fine

Some time before being baked

Pour the water in a bowl and add the yeast. Add the sugar to activate the yeast. Stir gently and set aside till the mixture froths up. This will take about 12-15 minutes.
Transfer the flour to a large bowl. Add the oil, the salt and the yeast mixture.
Mix till the dough comes together. Tip the contents of the bowl on your flour-dusted work surface.
Knead for about 10 minutes till the dough becomes smooth and elastic.
Place the dough in a lightly-oiled bowl and cover with clingfilm.
Leave in a warm place for about an hour or till it doubles in size.
Knead again for a few minutes and leave to rise for the second time. This will take another hour.
Place the dough on a floured or greased baking tray. Make the required shape by slashing with a small knife. Take care to handle the dough gently. The slashes can be widened using your fingers. Scatter the chopped olives and chillies all across the surface and lightly press them. Leave to rise and check the nicks in between as they might get closed as the dough rises. Stretch them so the shape remains intact.

Just before hitting the oven

Ten minutes before the fougasse goes into a preheated 180C oven, brush it with olive oil. Scatter the dried thyme on the bread and sprinkle some salt.
Bake for about 20 minutes till the bread is golden brown.
As soon as it is removed from the oven, brush again with olive oil and transfer it to a rack for cooling.
This bread tastes best the day it’s baked. 
I wouldn’t have used chillies but the thought of contrasting colours came to mind as I was adding the olives. The colours look more vibrant before the bread is baked. The chillies I used are not the hot ones.

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