Saturdays have become Soup Saturday here. Most weekends, even through the depths of a rather wet winter, Hubs has been working outside on building the pizza oven. This means lunches have to be quick, warm and grabbed when ever the time is convenient. Also soup means the labourers can spend as little time as possible in the kitchen. Seriously, never underestimate how horrible, drying brick and cement dust gets everywhere. I’m just glad we have no carpets downstairs.
To go with the soup, sometimes homemade sometime Glorious! Tuscan Chicken & Orzo (highly recommended!), I make some fresh bread. I’m trying to get more into making high hydration dough and it does take a bit of getting used to.
A high hydration dough is when the water is around 65% or more of the weight of the flour used in the recipe. So if you are making a dough with 65% hydration and you have 500g of flour you will use 325ml of water. High hydration dough is also not the easiest to work with compared to lower hydration dough. It’s sloppy, wet and doesn’t really like conventional kneading or shaping. However, the wonderful thing about high hydration dough is that you throw a lump of ragged, wet dough that looks like it’s been shaped by a 3-year-old in the oven, give it a nice bake and bring out the oven a beautiful piece of bread with the perfect crumb and decent air holes. The kind of bread you can pay stupid amounts of money for. With this recipe it works out at around a 82% hydration dough.
A fougasse is an almost a French version of focaccia. It’s a similar wet dough. It’s perfect Soup Saturday bread as it’s perfect dipped in soup and simple enough to people to tear off as much as they want. I throw it together after breakfast, let it do its magic while I run a few essential Saturday errands, then loosely shape and throw in the oven about an hour before serving lunch.
I’ll often have lunch before the boys as they can get a bit engrossed in bricklaying so the hardest part is not to eat all the fougasse to myself, warm from the oven with butter.
You have two options for kneading this. Either knead in a mixer (recommended if you’re not used to high hydration doughs) or knead by hand. If you are doing it by hand I highly recommend using a plastic dough scraper to help. You won’t be able to knead it in the traditional sense so use something like the Richard Bertinet’s Slap & Fold kneading technique.
In bread when I want to use onion I usually use dried onion flakes. I think they give a better taste and texture than fresh onions. Due to the cheese & onion in the bread it has a slightly more knobbly texture compared to plain fougasse, still tastes just as good.
Cheese & Onion Fougasse
Started life as a plain Paul Hollywoood Fougasse recipe
- 230g strong white bread flour
- 20g dried onion flakes
- 25g grated mature cheese
- 5g salt
- 5g fast action yeast
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 190ml cool water
- Fine semolina or flour
- olive oil
- Add the flour, onion flakes, cheese, salt and yeast into a bowl.
- Pour in the olive oil and 140ml of the water. Begin to mix. Once the ingredients are mixed together add the remaining 50ml of water. Knead for 8 minutes. By the end the dough will be sloppy, but also stretchy.
- Clean the bowl and oil it or oil another suitable container. Transfer you dough back to this. Leave to rise for about an hour until it has doubled in size.
- Turn the dough out onto a baking tray lined that has been lined with baking parchment and coated with a thin layer of fine semolina. Due to how sticky the dough is I highly recommend you DON’T skip this step!
- Shape the dough into a rough heart shape then using a pizza cutter (or scissors) cut the characteristic fougasse leaf-like veins in the dough. Stretch the dough slightly to accentuate the cuts.
- Drizzle with olive oil then bake at 220°c for 20 min. Once baked allow to cool on a wire rack. Due to the nature of the bread it is best eaten within 24 hours of baking, but it can also be frozen.