4 Nov 2017

French flatbread: fougasse

From This Way Up, 12:25 pm on 4 November 2017

Sam Forbes is on a mission to get more New Zealanders eating real bread made from whole grains grown here in New Zealand.

Advocating longer fermentation times, he mills his own flour and plans to source local heritage and heirloom wheat varieties to bake with.

Sam's a chef who caught the sourdough bug, so he headed to the US where he did his bread OE: he went to bread school and then he practiced his craft by baking his way across the USA.

He shows us how to bake one of his best-sellers, fougasse; it's a tasty, oily, crunchy French flatbread with a curious back story.

Sam Forbes' fougasse recipe (makes 6 loaves)

For the 'Poolish' (pre/first ferment to develop gluten) 

751g strong bakers flour (12% protein) 
40g whole wheat flour 
791g warm water (at 21 degrees C) 
2g dried yeast 

Mix all ingredients, cover and allow to double in size for 12 - 16 hours at room temperature. (Add a pinch of salt if fermenting for over 16 hours). 

Final dough

476g strong bakers flour
36g salt
5g diastatic malt (optional) 
1.584kg poolish (from above)  

Add the flour, salt and malt to your poolish. Mix well until all ingredients are incorporated and knead for 2 minutes. Allow to relax for 2-3 minutes, knead the dough to develop the gluten. (If the dough is stiff and dry add a touch of water). 

Dough should be well developed, silky, and strong. Allow to rise (bulk ferment) for 2 hours at room temperature. 

Fold the dough over itself after 1 hour then leave to rise for the remaining hour. 

Tip the dough out of the container and onto a well floured bench. Divide the dough into 6 pieces of around 350g each. Allow to rest for 20-30 minutes. 

Preheat oven to 250c. 

Once your dough has relaxed flatten into a rectangle. Cut 5 angled slits into the dough, (like a leaf shape). Stretch the dough to open the slits. Brush your fougasse with olive oil and sprinkle with rosemary and sea salt. 

Place into oven on a hot (preheated) tray and bake for 10 - 15 minutes. Check and rotate fougasse in oven if cooking unevenly.