The Artist Formerly Known as Lung Bread

A couple of years ago, TD and I happened across this cool looking exotic bread in Whole Foods.  As I remember it (which doesn’t mean it’s true), we asked the baker what it was. She replied that she didn’t know what it was called, she just bakes it.

Intrigued (by the bread, not the baker’s lack of mysterious bread nomenclature), we bought a loaf.  Lobe-shaped and cut allowing for lots of golden salted crust, TD thought it looked like a lung.  So we called it lung bread.

For years.

Until it showed up as the technical challenge on Season 4, Episode 6 of the Great British Baking Show.  Turns out lung bread is actually called Fougasse.

Lung, leaf, potato, pohtahto.

Fougasse is sort of Provence’s version of focaccia.  Slightly flat, with spring and a satisfyingly chewy texture, this lovely loaf is addicting.

Once I knew what it was, I set about trying to make it.  And, if you follow me on Instagram (@TMHostess), you’ve seen my attempts over the last year or so.

My first attempt was Paul Hollywood’s recipe from the Great British Baking Show.  While the result was visually stunning, the texture was all wrong: short crumb, no chew.

On my second attempt I went more the direction of pizza dough.  Again, looked great, wrong texture.

Like Goldilocks (half head of highlights included), I was determined.  And so when I discovered another recipe in the most recent Cook’s Illustrated All-Time Best Baking publication, I chopped up some fresh rosemary and got to work.

The key to good chew, explains the recipe’s author, Andrew Janjigian, is a properly hydrated dough, added flavor from a little whole wheat flour and an overnight fermentation.   Before it rests all night, the bread  goes through a quadruple proof of gentle folds over the course of a couple of hours (according to Janjigian, this method allows the gluten to develop slowly helping to create a light, airy and irregular crumb).

So, was the third time a charm? Oh God yes! This recipe is everything TD and I knew and loved about lung bread: salty, flavorful but mild with that hallmark chew.

Fougasse is not technically difficult, but, it does take some time.  If you have an afternoon (and an evening before to throw together the dough), this is a very enjoyable way to spend it.  As Paul Hollywood advised in the technical challenge, “be patient and remember the shaping.”

No post next week (I’ll be hundreds deep in schweddy balls about this time next Thursday), so Happy Thanksgiving to all!  I’ll see you on the holiday side.

Fougasse

modified slightly from Cooks Illustrated All-Time Best Baking

makes two loaves

Ingredients

  • 1/4 C (1 1/2 ounces) whole-wheat flour
  • 3 C (15 ounces) bread flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp rapid-rise yeast
  • 1 1/2 C (12 ounces) water
  • cornmeal or semolina flour
  • 1/4 C extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 TBS fresh rosemary or other desired herbs
  • 2 tsp course sea salt

Directions

  1. Sift whole wheat flour through fine-mesh strainer into bowl of stand mixer.  Add bread flour and yeast to mixer.  Fit stand mixer with dough hook and knead on low speed until cohesive dough forms and no incorporated flour remains (5 minutes).  Add salt and knead (using hook) for 2 more minutes.
  2. Transfer dough to a lightly oiled large bowl.  Cover with plastic wrap and let rest at room temp for 30 minutes.
  3. Holding the edge of the dough with your fingertips, fold dough over itself by gently lifting and folding the edge of the dough toward the center (see pic above).  Turn bowl 45 degrees, fold again.  Turn bowl and fold 6 more times (2 rotations).
  4. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise for 30 minutes.
  5. Repeat folding and rising every 30 minutes 3 more times.  After fourth set of folds, cover bowl tightly with plastic and refrigerate for at least 16 hours and up to 48.
  6. Transfer dough to lightly floured counter.  Stretch gently into an 8 inch round and divide it in half.  Working with 1 piece of dough at a time, gently stretch and fold over 3 side of the dough to create a triangle with 5 inch sides.
  7. Transfer to a lightly floured rimmed baking sheet, seam side down and repeat with remaining piece of dough.  Cover dough loosely with plastic wrap lightly coated with vegetable oil spray and let rest at room temp until Doug is relaxed and no longer cool to the touch (30-60 minutes).
  8. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Put one baking sheet into pre-heating oven.
  9. Transfer 1 piece of dough to lightly floured work surface and, using a rolling pin, gently roll into a triangular shape with an 8-inch base and 10-inch sides, about 1/2 inch thick.  Transfer to a baking-sheet sized piece of parchment liberally dusted with cornmeal or semolina (the sheet can be on the counter or if you have enough, an extra baking sheet).
  10. Using a pizza cutter, make a 6-inch long cut down the center of the triangle leaving about 1 1/2 inches of dough on either end.  Make three 2-3 inch diagonal cuts, leaving a 1-inch boarder on each end of the cuts to create a leaf pattern.
  11. Gently stretch dough toward sides of pan to widen cuts and emphasize the leaf shape (you can add cuts to the edges if you’d like–see photos above).  The overall size of the loaf should measure about 10 X 12 inches.
  12. Cover loosely with plastic wrap coated with oil spray and let rest at room temp until nearly double in size, 30-45 minutes.  Twenty minutes after shaping first loaf, repeat with second half of dough.
  13. Brush the top and sides of the first loaf with 2 TBS olive oil.  Sprinkle loaf with rosemary and salt.
  14. Pull hot baking sheet from oven.  Using the edges of the parchment, carefully lift parchment and shaped dough onto hot baking sheet.
  15. Bake until golden brown, 18-22 minutes, rotating halfway through baking.
  16. Transfer to a wire rack and put hot pan back into the oven to heat for the second loaf.
  17. Allow bread to cool for at least 15 minutes.
  18. Repeat with second loaf.

While the bread will stay fresh for a couple of days, it is my humble opinion that it tastes absolutely the best just cooled from the oven.

Take me home, country loaf

Sorry.

As I’ve mentioned before, a few years ago I took a baking course through the New School of Cooking in Culver City.  It was a great course for all levels and the instructor was fantastic (it doesn’t appear she teaches through New School any longer).

With the exception of the laminated doughs, I’d already made nearly everything on the syllabus prior to taking the class.  What I was after were a boost in my technical skills.  For instance, I understood that using butter or oil in baking created different outcomes–I just didn’t know why.  I also didn’t know that in addition to Italian and Swiss, there are also German and American buttercreams.  How great is it to live in a world with so many kinds of intercontinental buttercream?

One of the best recipes (in my opinion) from this course is a simple country loaf.  For this recipe, patience far outweighs technique in creating a chewy, airy crumb.

Three things make this bread really good.  The first is an overnight fermentation of the sponge.  You can do it in an hour (and this is how we did it in class).  However, through my own trial and error I’ve learned that allowing the sponge to develop in a warm kitchen and then throwing it in the fridge for a sleep really develops the flavor.

The second is waiting until the last couple of minutes of kneading to add the salt. Salt and yeast are sort of like Tom and Jerry so you want the yeast nice and developed and protected by lots of flour before you add the salt into the mix.  I now use this method any time I’m making yeasted dough.  Wait to add the salt.

The third is the pan of steaming water.  As I learned in the baking course, many professional baking ovens have a steam function that helps put the “crust” into crusty bread.  A pan of steaming water helps do the same.

If you have any interest in playing with yeast, this is a great fist step.

Country Loaf

New School of Cooking

Ingredients

for the sponge

  • 1 TBS active dry yeast
  • 1 C warm water
  • 4 ounces (1 C) bread flour

for the dough

  • 20 oz (5 C) bread flour
  • 1 1/3 C warm water
  • 2 TBS honey
  • 1 TBS kosher salt
  • cornmeal for sprinkling

Directions

for the sponge

  1. Dissolve the yeast in warm water and stir in bread flour.  Cover and let rest for 1 hour, but, best case scenario, refrigerate over night.  Return to room temp before using.

for the bread

  1. In a bowl, combine the sponge, flour, water and honey.  Knead for eight minutes or so.  Add salt during the last three minutes. Return to bowl if you’ve kneaded by hand.  Cover bowl and allow to double in size (about 1 hour).
  2. Sprinkle a liberal layer of corn meal onto a baking sheet.
  3. Lightly flour hands and work surface, dough will be sticky.  Turn out dough and knead lightly.  Rough form it into a ball and place on top of the cornmeal dusted baking sheet. Flour the top of the loaf and cover loosely with plastic wrap.  Let rise until doubled, about 45 minutes.
  4. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.  Place a small pan filled with steaming water on the bottom of the oven.  Place baking tray on lowest rack.  Back 35-40 minutes until the crust is very dark brown and the internal temp is 210 degrees.  If you don’t have a thermometer, flip the bread, and thump the bottom.  If it sounds hollow, it’s done.
  5. Cool to room temp before slicing.