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    Fougasse

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    Fougasse

    Crunchy on the outside and soft inside, fougasses freeze well. Bake them at 230°C/gas 8 for 6–7 minutes, then remove from the oven, cool, wrap in freezer bags and freeze. To use, bake from frozen at 200°C/gas 6 for 12 minutes.

    • Preparation time: Post-dough preparation: 20 minutes
    • Cooking time: 12 minutes to 15 minutes
    • Total time: 32 minutes to 35 minutes 35 minutes

    Makes: 6

    Ingredients

    • 10g yeast or 7g dried easy-blend yeast
    • 500g strong bread flour
    • 10g salt
    • 50g white or maize flour, for dusting

    Method

    1. Rub the yeast into the flour using your fingertips as if making a crumble (if using easy-blend, just mix it in). Add the salt and 350ml water. Hold the bowl with one hand and mix the ingredients around with the other hand or with the rounded end of a plastic scraper for 2–3 minutes, until the dough starts to form. Pour the dough onto an unfloured work surface. It will feel soft and moist, and look like sticky porridge.
    2. Forget the way you might think you knead dough. Don’t pummel it with the heels of your hands: instead slide your fingers under it like two forks with your thumbs on top, swing it upwards and slap it back down away from you. Stretch the front of the dough towards you, then lift it back over itself in an arc. Repeat until the dough feels smooth, silky and elastic. Allow 5–10 minutes.
    3. Lightly flour the surface of the dough and fold the edges over to make a ball. Turn it over so the top is smooth. Lightly flour a bowl and place the dough in it. Cover the bowl with a clean tea towel and leave it to rise for 1 hour, until almost doubled in size.
    4. Preheat the oven to 240°C/gas 9 (or as high as your oven will go). Flour a work surface. Once the dough has rested, use the rounded end of a scraper to scoop it out from the bowl without stretching it. Taking care not to deflate it, let it spread out on the worktop and flour generously. Cut the dough into two rectangles, then cut each piece into 3 rectangles. Keep the pieces well floured, especially at the edges.
    5. Using the flat edge of the scraper, make a diagonal cut across the centre of one piece of dough, cutting all the way through to the work surface but being careful not to go up to the edges. Using scissors, make three smaller, diagonal cuts fanning out on either side of the central one. Put your fingers into the slits and gently open them out to form holes. Flour the cuts. Repeat on the other pieces.
    6. Lift the fougasses onto a lightly floured baking tray and slide onto a second upside-down tray. Using a water spray, mist the inside of the oven. Turn the heat down to 230°C/gas 8 and bake for 12–15 minutes until golden brown.

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