(with a bit of Parmesan, because Cheese makes everything better)
For me, Bread is like a realistic form of time travel. Take a Foccacia for example, I have one glorious mouthful and it takes me straight back to my high school trip to Florence. Sipping a really good cup of coffee with the smells of fresh Pizza and Rosemary lingering in the air from a nearby restaurant. It’s even the same with breads from places I’ve never even been to. They make me feel cultured in a way I’m really not. Gone are the days of anaemic white processed bread from my childhood and here are the lazy afternoons spent baking breads from around the world.
This Fougasse is obviously French but with the tastes of Italy hiding in little flavoursome pockets throughout. The Rosemary permeates throughout the dough but the tomatoes stay in smaller sections (which everyone secretly tries to snag in their piece.) And the Parmesan Cheese? Well, thats just because a bit of gooey goodness on top never does anyone any harm.
Ingredients – Recipe adapted from Richard Bertinet Fougasse
- 250g strong bread flour
- 175ml of water
- 5g fresh yeast or 1/4 tsp of dry yeast
- 1/2 tsp sea salt
- 10 or more sun-dried tomatoes
- 1 tsp of chopped rosemary
- Shavings of Parmesan Cheese
Rub the yeast into the flour if using fresh or, if using dry, mix the dry yeast into the flour. Add the salt and then water. Mix using either your hands or a bowl scraper until the dough starts to come together. Tip out onto a surface and knead until the dough comes together in a smooth ball. (Embrace the wet dough! Don’t be scared. You’re the boss!) Leave to rise in a bowl covered with a tea towel for an hour.
While your bread is rising, chop your tomatoes into smaller chunks and roughly chop your rosemary. Place your tomatoes on some kitchen paper so that they aren’t too wet when put into the dough. Using a knife, carefully slice thin shavings of Parmesan ready for baking.
Once your dough has proved, tip it out onto a floured surface and press down with your fingertips. Pre-heat your oven to the highest it will go and place a deep tray in the bottom. Place the rosemary and tomatoes into the centre and knead into the dough. Cut the dough in two and pull out into two triangular shapes. Cut one slit down the centre of the triangles and then three on either side. This can be done with a very sharp knife of a plastic bowl scraper.
Pry the holes open a little so that they wont close up when rising again. Place onto a floured baking tray and leave to rise for 5 minutes. Bake for 12-15 minutes, before you close the door, pour some cold water into the preheated tray in the bottom of the oven to create steam for a good crust. Lastly, put on some parmesan a few minutes before the bread is done.