Hamelman's Fougasse with Olives
Having battered myself attempting to conquer (well...make peace with?) baguettes - hampered by still developing scoring techniques and an old gas oven that simply won't retain steam - this morning I decided to treat myself to something less daunting. I've been looking at some of the flatbread recipes in Hamelman's Bread, and his fougasse recipe caught my interest. It's simple and has a pleasing scoring pattern (no gringes, thank you very much).
The bake turned out nicely, I think, and the reaction of my pub companions with whom I shared the loaf was positive. It yielded a nice crust, and a chewy crumb infused with flavor from the olives and the olive oil. This is a wonderful snack-type bread that will disappear quickly, as it should. With its large area of crust, including that around the decorative slits, it's not meant to store but bake and eat soon as it's cooled sufficiently.
I diverted from his recipe just a tad - instead of a small pinch of yeast in the pâte fermentée, I substituted 15% of my 60% hydrated sourdough starter. The only noticeable difference was a slight hint of sourness to the pâte fermentée the next morning which I enjoyed.
The one challenge was moving the fougasse to my parchment covered peel. Once you score the risen dough (I used a pizza cutter which worked well), the cuts tend to spring open immediately. This is nice. However, attempting to lift the fougasse onto the peel was a nightmare, as the cuts made it impossible to lift the dough without it stretching in every direction. At first I looked at what appeared to be a hopeless mass, but with some patient rearranging I was able to reconstitute its shape. In the future, I will probably do the final shaping and slashing with the dough on the peel to avoid potential disaster and aggravation.
Otherwise, it's remarkably simple and the the finished product elicits a very high "oooohhhh" factor when shown off.