The technical challenge for the botanical week on series 7 was to make a Fresh Herb Fougasse. A Fougasse is a french flatbread, decorated to resemble an ear of wheat. The difficult part of this challenge was to open up the cuts in the dough so that they do not close when the bread is baked.
500g Strong White Flour
7g Fast Action Yeast
350ml Warm Water
2 Tbsp Olive Oil
2 Tsp Fresh Rosemary
2 Tsp Fresh Thyme
2 Tsp Fresh Sage
1/2 Dried Oregano
1 Tbsp Semolina
1 Tbsp Strong White Flour
Sea Salt (for serving)
1. In a large mixing bowl add the flour, salt, and yeast. Make sure to keep the salt away from the yeast (this prevents the salt killing the yeast).
2. Add the olive oil and add 3/4 of the water into the bowl and mix using a stand mixer with a dough hook attachment, at a low speed. Once a dough starts to form add the rest of the water. Mix for 8 minutes or until the dough becomes elastic and stretches away from the bowl.
3, Next chopped the fresh herbs and add them to the dough and mix again until all of the herbs are evenly incorporated into the dough.
4. Tip the dough into an oiled bowl and prove the dough for 1 hour or until the dough doubles in size.
5. In a small bowl add the semolina and strong white flour and mix. Then dust a work surface with the dry ingredients. This will help the dough from sticking to the work surface.
6. Once the dough has prooved tip the dough onto the work surface and divide the dough into two equal portions.
7. Lift each dough portions onto a baking tray lined with parchment paper. Spread the dough to form an oval. Then using a pizza cutter make two cuts in a line down the middle of the ovals with a gap between them, stopping 2cm/1in from each end. Then make 12 diagonal cuts in the dough, 6 either side of the central cuts, forming a leaf design, then stretch the dough out slightly to emphasize the holes.
8. Leave the dough to prove for 20 minutes. Next, preheat the oven to 200C/ 390F/ Gas Mark 7.
9. Drizzle olive oil over the bread and then sprinkle the oregano over the dough. Bake for 15–20 minutes, or until the fougasse sounds hollow when tapped on the base. Remove from the oven and while still hot, brush with more olive oil and sprinkle with the sea salt.