Friday, December 17, 2010

Fougasse: As Fun to Say as it is to Eat!

Bread making, which many people lump under the general heading of baking, is nothing like making pastry. If you ask me, the two aren’t even comparable (other than the fact that flour is a predominant ingredient in both). Bread making is a whole other craft. Bread makers, as a rule, are a different breed as well.

My first introduction to really well made bread was via Carole Griffen’s Continental Bakery. She crafts her bread in the fashion of the famed Paris bakery, Poilâne. Having tasted Carole’s and Poilâne’s breads, I have to say her bread certainly holds it’s own. Whenever I go back to Birmingham, I never miss stopping by her bakery.

While there have been plenty of breads and bakeries I've pledged my allegiance to, my enduring obsession has been Chad Robertson's bread at Tartine Bakery. As I mentioned in an earlier post, I had previously tried making natural leavened bread but wasn’t pleased with the results (and had a little issue with my starter). Now that Chad has released a cookbook on making his amazing bread in your home, Tartine Bread has inspired me to try making bread again. I’ve gotten another starter going and I’ve been doing quite a bit of bread baking. So far, my attempts have been to mixed success – a couple of wins, a not-even-near miss on baguettes- but I guess that’s to be expected.

I tried fougasse for my first attempt to make bread with my starter. Tartine Bread’s fougasse recipe calls for enriched dough, meaning that natural leaven (using starter) is mixed with a poolish made from commercial yeast, flour, and water. I was thrilled with the result but then my standards are pretty low – I decided that as long as the dough rose and the bread had a good crust, I’d be happy. So mission accomplished for my first attempt. I need to work on paying particular attention to folding the dough and the bench rise as I’d like to see more holes (alveoles) in the crumb.
So I’ll keep at it as practice makes perfect. In the meantime, to not waste reject attempts, my freezer will be overflowing with breadcrumbs, croutons, and other repurposed bread products. You may be seeing posts on bread pudding and French toast coming up soon. And if you know of any other uses for sad, sorry looking bread loaves, please send them my way. I'm going to need them!

*I’m not posting recipes on my bread making attempts as they are quite lengthy. Since these breads require a starter, if you’re going to invest the time to develop a starter, you’ll probably want to invest in the book as well.
Placing bread into a steaming oven causes oven spring- let me tell you, I was jumping for joy when I saw my loaf plump up!


  1. Crusty bread makes a great panzanelle (Italian bread salad) and since you add olive oil and balsamic vinegar it can help any not-so-great bread to reach yumminess.

  2. That looks great! The only bread I make are standard bread loaves. Easy! I would love to make more interesting bread like this, though.

  3. @Ellen- Great idea! I love panzanella. May have to find a sub for tomatos this time of year. The hot house tomatoes available now taste like card board.

    @Tiffany- Thanks! You should give it a try. Pick up Tartine Bread- it's a lovely book and Chad's recipe's are great.

  4. So far, I've been too intimidated to make bread that requires a starter, but I need to. This looks lovely. There are few pleasures as wonderful as biting into some really good bread.
    *kisses* HH

  5. Cheers to you for breadmaking!!! One day I will hopefully get with it and make a real loaf of bread...Your bread looks beautiful! And I am inspired!

  6. Beautiful fougasse! I have a similar stock of bread things in my freezer. I may need a second freezer for croutons at some point! And, I still can't wait to get baking from that book.

  7. Looks yummy...
    gorgeous pictures and lovely blog
    bises from France

  8. @HH- Definitely give it a try! Nothing tastes as good as your own bread.

    @UrMom- Thanks for your sweet words!

    @Lisa- I can't wait to see your bread. I'm sure it will be gorgeous!

    @Delph- Love your site- I wish my French were better but I can see from the pics that your baking is divine!

  9. Hi Shelley! I had a great time at the food swap and getting to know you a little! You were right, your matzo bark is addicting! :) I did manage to share a little though. Let's keep in touch about Cooking Up English.
    All the best, Casey

  10. @Casey- So nice to meet you. Definitely- I'd love to volunteer with classes or help out in any way needed. CUE is such a neat idea!