I needed a good side-dish bread for a potluck recently. There wasn’t enough time for a long-rise yeast bread, and I wasn’t quite ready to fall back on dinner-rolls. Going through various books, I came across Provençal Fougasse in my Williams-Sonoma cookbook.
Frankly, this bread looks imposing, but is really very straightforward to make. It’s a wonderful bread to accompany a hearty soup, and is rich in flavor and smell (your neighbors will be knocking at your door from the aroma). About the only problem I had with the recipe was the inability to get fresh rosemary and thyme. Not to worry though, the dried equivalents work just fine.
This problem is something that has always bothered me about many cookbooks and recipes. I’m just an average guy, living in an average city with actually above average markets. Yet on many occasions, I simply can’t get a number of ingredients that many cookbooks seem to take for granted. Usually it’s fresh things such as herbs. But sometimes a cookbook will throw out an ingredient such as “espresso powder” which really throws me. I looked all over the city for that one, and not only did no one have it, most had never even heard of it.
So is it me, or are cookbooks snobby? Surely, some of these hard-to-find items are simply “outdated” in that modern markets no longer carry them because a more convenient version of something has come out. Sort of like how margarine used to have the little “color dot” on the top that you mixed in before use. I’m all for trying new and even complicated things, but sometimes I feel like certain cooks go out of their way to set to paper something that only a handful of people could make according to the recipe. Sorry, but I won’t be a cooking snob. I like meat and potatoes too much. K.I.S.S. is my friend (that’s Keep It Simple, Stupid.) Back to the Fougasse.
I found the use of Semolina flour to be interesting and very practical. That was a new one. I also thought that there wouldn’t be enough bread for everyone. Flatbreads always throw me off this way. I needn’t have worried. There is so much flavor in this bread that it goes a long way, either as a dipping bread for soup or stew, or on it’s own with butter. It’s also shaped in a way that’s really pleasing when you set it on the table. Unfortunately, I didn’t have time to take a picture before I whisked it off to the potluck. Too bad. it was a great hit. But not to worry. This is one I’ll make again soon.
Update: I couldn’t wait. Yum!
Right before baking.
Just out of the oven.