I’ve been on a bit of a bread jag of late. I’m particularly interested these days in breads that employ preferments. The three main types of preferment are the biga, the poolish, and old dough.
Preferments are simply mixtures of a small amount of water, flour, and yeast that are allowed to ferment twenty-four hours or so before you make the actual bread. The biga differs from the poolish only in that it contains less water. The attractively monikered “old dough” refers to a piece of dough you keep back from earlier loaves to add fermented flavour to future loaves. I realize I’ve been using the old-dough method with my no-knead bread for years since I always keep a bit of old dough back in my refrigerated jug of bread dough. And it does indeed give the baguettes a slightly sour-dough-ish taste.
So last week, I discovered a new focaccia recipe that requires a preferment, and I ended up making it THREE times: once to try it out; once to take to a [physically distant] visit with friends; once for a [physically distant] dinner with Bid and Paul.
This week, I decided to try fougasse–a lovely crisp flatbread with a leaf pattern; the idea is that the crust-to-bread ratio is almost even. Years ago, when I first started making bread, I used to look at pictures of fougasse and think I could never in a million years hope to accomplish a bread as gorgeous as that.
As it turns out, fougasse is pretty easy!
It’s a bit time consuming because of lots of stops and starts, but it’s not in the least bit complicated and the result is absolutely delicious. James declared it the best bread I’ve ever made (though he said that last week about my new focaccia–haha). I used the Cooks Illustrated recipe and did not deviate at all, so I’ll just include the link here. While this recipe doesn’t require a biga or poolish, the entire dough is prefermented in that you let it rest for at least sixteen hours in the fridge.
As I was waiting out one of the many stages of the fougasse dough, I decided I needed to make a tapenade to pair with this fabulous new bread recipe. I settled on the very well-reviewed Alton Brown tapenade recipe, which I halved. I also eliminated the anchovies because ewww, but also to make the tapenade vegan. The tapenade is delicious and SUPER salty, so I can’t even imagine how much saltier the dish would be with anchovies!
- 4 ounces pitted mixed olives
- 1 clove garlic
- 1 TBS capers
- 3 fresh basil leaves
- 1 TBS lemon juice
- 1 TBS olive oil
Blend into a paste-like consistency in the food processor.
And, of course…the FROSTY BEVERAGES!! James has become a dab hand at these frosty cocktails!
And the song of the day is Iron and Wine’s “Freckled Girl”…