Sunday, 3 April 2011

It's started.... woo hoo!

So it's started. And what better way to commence than with fresh bread on a sunny Sunday afternoon on the roof terrace with The Prawn King.

I have just made "Fougasse" these delicious bread pretzel-looking things. They are my first attempt from a book called DOUGH by Richard Bertinet and were very easy - flour, salt, yeast and water.... and setting off the smoke alarm three times. We have just devoured one with olive oil and a black olive tapanade,  one has gone to my neighbour (as a I'm-sorry-we-kept-you-up-all-night-with-heavy-dancing present) and the rest will be taken to the office tomorrow.

10g Yeast (fresh if possible, but I used dried)
500g Strong Bread Flour
10g Salt
350g/350ml Water (this needs to be as exact as possible)

Mix all the ingredients together in a bowl and once you have a sticky mess tip it out onto your work surface, but do not flour the work surface. It will all come together - Richard promises this, and so far I believe him to be a man of his word as it worked for me.

Now you have to stretch the dough and then fold it back into the centre, working it to get as much air in as possible. To begin with I found that I could not stretch it very far and that it kept breaking off, but the more you work it the more elastic it becomes. I reckon it took about 10 mins of stretching and pulling before you get something that comes away from the surface. Now you can very lightly dust the surface and do a couple more stretches, tuck the ends underneath and make a nice little round of dough. Put it in a lightly floured bowl, cover with a tea towel and leave somewhere warm for an hour or until it has doubled in size.

Turn your oven on to 250 and put a small baking tray of water in the bottom to create a nice steaming oven. Then Richard recommends a bread stone but if you don't have one, like me, get a heavy baking tray and turn it upside down. Works a treat.

Then take the dough as carefully as you can without deflating it - he says to use a plastic scraper but I didn't have one so I was probably a bit rough with it and it did deflate a bit - and put it onto a lightly floured surface. I used polenta to dust the surface as I like the effect that it give on the bread. Then halve the mixture and third each half to get 6 pieces. Stretch them out a bit and cut once diagonally and then on each side make two more slits so you should end up with 5 slits - stretch them apart with your fingers so that they don't close up when cooking. You can then put them on an upturned baking tin so it is easier to slide them on to your tray in the oven. Then open the oven up and slide the fougasse onto the bread stone as fast as you can so not to lose heat. Turn the oven down to 230 and cook for 12 mins or until golden brown.

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