Fougasse with Provencal Herbs
Fougasse is a traditional Provencal bread that’s quite chewy and flavorful and studded with olives and herbs. A dried herb mixture is available at specialty foods stores and in the spice section of some supermarkets.
1 1/2 cups warm water (105°F to 115°F)
1 tsp dry yeast
4 cups unbleached all purpose flour
2 tbs dried herbes de Provence
2 tsp fine sea salt
4 tbs olive oil
Preheat oven at 450°F.
1. Pour 1 1/2 cups warm water into large bowl; sprinkle yeast over. Let stand until yeast dissolves, about 10 minutes.
2. Stir in 1 cup flour, 1 tablespoon herbs de Provence and sea salt, then 2 tablespoons oil until well blended. Mix in enough flour, 1 cup at a time, to form thick and slightly sticky dough.
3. Turn dough out onto lightly floured work surface; knead until smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes. Form into ball.
4. Oil large bowl. Add dough; turn to coat. Cover bowl with plastic wrap, then towel.
5. Let rise in warm draft-free area until doubled, about 1 hour.
6. Position 1 rack in center and 1 rack in top third of oven.
7. Sprinkle 2 baking sheets generously with cornmeal. Punch dough down.
8. Turn out onto floured surface; divide in half.
9. Press out each half to 11x8-inch irregularly shaped oval. Transfer to prepared baking sheets.
10. Brush each oval with 1 tablespoon oil. Sprinkle each with 1 1/2 teaspoons herbs de Provence.
11. Using sharp knife, make several 2-inch-long cuts in each oval (do not cut through edges), spacing cuts evenly apart and cutting through dough to work surface.
12. Pull dough apart at cuts to create openings.
13. Cover loosely with plastic; let rise in warm draft-free area until slightly puffed, about 20 minutes.
14. Place dough in oven. Immediately pour about 1/4 cup water onto bottom of oven creating steam.
15. Bake breads until golden on top and slightly crisp on bottom, switching sheets between racks and turning front of each sheet to back of oven halfway through baking, about 18 minutes.
16. Transfer sheets to racks; cool breads 10 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.