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Fougasse bread

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This is beautiful flat bread, quick and easy to make.  Fougasse is much like focaccia and pizza dough combined. The addition of olives and herbs makes this bread tasty and attractive. You may use green, black, or stuffed olives.  Red pimentos in the stuffed olives give the loaf an almost festive look. This flat bread also makes a great base for other ingredients too such as jalapenos, herbs, and grated cheese. Experiment and find the flavour that your family loves.

The flat bread may be shaped into a leaf by slashing the dough all the way through and widening the holes. Or slash the dough into the shape of a tree making it easy to pull apart at the table. The finish bread looks wonderful when placed on the table on a bread boards with balsamic vinegar and olive oil for dipping.

This recipe makes one loaf.

Ingredients

2 2/3 cups flour

1 1/4 teaspoon active dry yeast

1/2 cup warm water (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)

2 eggs

1 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon chopped fresh herbs such as rosemary thyme, or garlic

1/2 cup canned and drained sliced green, black, or stuffed olives

1 egg

2 tablespoons water

1 tablespoon fine ground cornmeal

Directions

In a bowl, sprinkle the yeast over the warm water. Stir 1/4 cup of the flour into the yeast until it makes a paste. Let sit and rest for about 10 minutes or until it starts to get all bubbly.  This is your yeast starter mix.

Next place the remaining flour in a large bowl. Make a well in the center of the flour. Add the 2 eggs, salt, oil, chopped herbs, and remaining 1/4 cup of warm water the yeast starter. Mix until it starts to form dough. Add the olives and mix until incorporated.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface. The dough should be very soft. Knead the dough for about 3 minutes then form into a ball. Place the dough into a large oiled bowl. Rotate until all sides are lightly oiled. Cover with a warm damp cloth and let rise in a warm, draft free place for about 1 hour.  I like to place my dough on the top of my stove as it preheats.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

When the dough is ready punch it down. On a lightly floured surface using a rolling pin roll the dough into a thin rectangle about 9 inches by 12 inches.

Place the cornmeal onto a baking sheet. Place the dough rectangle onto the baking sheet. Using a very sharp knife cut 3 – 4 long slits right through the dough on each side. Next stretch and form your dough into a leaf shape. Also open the slits that you cut about one inch wide (at the widest point) with your fingers. This will form a beautiful Fougasse loaf of flat bread.

Cover the pan with a damp warm cloth and let the dough rise for 30 minutes.

When the dough is ready whisk together the remaining egg and water.  Brush this egg wash over the top of the bread. It is now ready to go into the oven.

Place the baking sheet into the preheated oven. Just before closing the oven door splash a small amount (a few teaspoons) of water onto the floor of your oven to create steam, and close the oven door. This will help to develop a crisp crust on your Fougasse.

Bake until golden, about 25 minutes.

Remove the finished bread from the oven. Place the finished Fougasse onto a cooling rack and allow to rest until cool enough to handle.

Place onto a cutting board with dips of your choice and serve.

Enjoy.

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