M-J’s Savoury Fougasse

M-J de Mesterton's Savoury Fougasse, Copyright 2009
Fougasse is similar to the Italian bread known as foccaccia. Here is my recipe for a savoury version of the Provençal bread, which was named for the wild gasses created by its yeast-starter. It is different from the sweet, anise-and-orange-flavoured fougasses which are popular at Christmastide.This fougasse serves as an accompaniment to dinner or cheese:

Ingredients for the Yeast-Starter, or “Sponge”

• 1 teaspoon sugar
• 1/2 cup warm water (105–115°F)
• 2 teaspoons active dry yeast (from a 1/4-oz package)
• 1/2 cup of unbleached white flour

Ingredients for the Dough

• 1 more teaspoon of sugar, or a teaspoon of honey if available
• 1 tablespoon of dried herbes de Provence
• 2/3 cup of lukewarm water
• One teaspoon of lemon juice
• 1/3 cup of extra-virgin olive oil, plus 2 tablespoons for brushing your pans and loaves
• 3 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, plus another half-cup on-hand for the counter, and kneading
• 1 1/2 teaspoons of flaked (Fleur de Sel) sea salt, Himalayan salt crystals, or coarse sea salt

Preparation of Savoury Fougasse
Make the Yeast-Starter:
Stir together sugar and warm water in a mixing bowl. Sprinkle in the yeast, and let stand for about five minutes, until bubbly. Using a whisk, incorporate the half-cup of unbleached white flour into this mixture. Let the starter rise, loosely covered with plastic wrap, 30 minutes.

To Make the Fougasse Dough:

Add sugar, salt, herbes de Provence, water,  lemon juice, 1/3 cup of olive oil, and 11/4 cups flour to the prepared starter, and beat the mixture until smooth. Mix in the remaining 2 cups of white, unbleached flour, 1/2 cup at a time, to form a soft dough.

Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead, regularly sprinkling the dough’s surface with flour, until smooth and elastic (dough should still be a bit sticky), for about 8 minutes. Form this into a ball and transfer to large bowl with enough olive oil in it to coat the fougasse dough. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let the dough rise at warm room temperature until doubled in size, 1 to 1 1/2 hours.

Punch down the dough (do not knead), then, with a light hand, divide it into two sections. Flatten each one into an ovate leaf-shape (about 12 inches long and 1/4 inch thick), and then transfer them to baking sheets that have been brushed with olive oil.

With a very sharp knife, make 2-inch incisions at angles, alternating left-to-right, down the length of each oval “leaf,” cutting all the way through. Leave an inch at the outside edges as uncut area. Gently pull the incisions open with your fingers, so that they don’t close during baking. Let the dough rise for about 40 minutes.

Heat the oven to 375°F.
Brush the two fougasse loaves with olive oil, and sprinkle with your preferred salt. Bake until the fougasses are golden brown, and sound hollow when tapped—this should take approximately forty minutes. Remove fougasses from oven and place on a rack to cool. A French rule: never cut and eat bread until it has cooled to room-temperature.

My Savoury Fougasse Dough Is Ideal for an Artisanal Pizza (Photo Shows Dough In the Rising Process)

Photo and Recipe Copyright M-J de Mesterton 2009

M-J's Pizza Provençale, Made with Her Fougasse Dough Recipe

Potée Lorraine

Potée Lorraine
Preparation time: three hours;

Serves approximately six people:

One cup of dried white beans

1 pound of cooking sausage (Italian sausage is fine),
Two pounds of pork shoulder or pork filet, using the smoked variety if available.

Eight ounces of bacon, chopped
One ripe, green cabbage
Four carrots, diced
Two turnips or one rutabaga, diced
Two leeks, white and light green parts chopped

Ten small potatoes
Two cups of trimmed green string beans
Two onions, one of them chopped and one of them left whole, spiked with 3 cloves
Two garlic cloves, ends cut-off and then crushed
One bouquet garni

Soak the white beans overnight.

In a large cast-iron or other heavy pot, sautée the chopped bacon. Add the onion, chopped leeks, finely diced carrots and turnips. Stir-in the crushed garlic, and drop-in the bouquet garni.
Cover the pot and allow the vegetables to sweat for 15 min. Then add the pork shoulder and cover with water. Add salt, pepper, and the spiked onion.
Simmer for 1 hour.
Cut the cabbage into quarters, add it to the pot, discarding its core. Add some water or stock and leave to simmer for another hour and a half.

Add the sausage (pricked with a needle to ensure even cooking), green beans (peeled, washed and cut into long “sticks”) and the peeled potatoes.
Add water if needed and leave to cook for 30 more minutes. The total cooking time will be about 3 hours.
Place the white beans and other vegetables in a large, sturdy serving dish. Slice the meats and peeled sausage, and place them on top. Allow your guests to serve themselves.