Feast cookalong: Provençal chorizo and onion bread

 

Once in a while, I make a completely rash statement such as, “I’m never wearing jeans on the weekend again”, or, even more ridiculous, “I’m giving up bread”. Crazy. Obviously. While I do love to eat bread, I haven’t actually made it in a while, so figured this month’s party breakfast recipe for fougasse aux Saucisson (Provençal chorizo and onion bread) was a good way to get back into it.

All the ingredients for this bread are pretty basic and I had everything except the chorizo on hand. I decided to get the dough started and then fry the chorizo and onion while it was rising, which seemed like a time-efficient course of events (my favourite kind). I made my dough in an electric mixer, but I’m never quite convinced that that dough hook is doing a proper job, so finished it off with about 5-7 minutes of hand kneading.

After leaving it to rise for an hour, I carefully follow the instructions, and the photo, to shape the fougasse into the traditional leaf shape. The dough is fairly forgiving and I pull and push around to get it looking right. Then the toppings go on – the chorizo and onion mix, cherry tomatoes, black olives and thyme. It’s pretty much a capacity crowd and I actually have a few bits of chorizo left over as there just seems to be enough room to squeeze it on. 

The recipe says to cook for 30 minutes, but I pushed it to 35 minutes as it wasn’t quite golden or sounding hollow when I checked it. The tomatoes had blistered and olives and chorizo blackened without being burnt. It smelled fantastic and I eagerly tore the point off it while it was still warm. The first bite was fantastic – a mouthful of slightly salty bread that was offset perfectly by a juicy tomato. The second bite was when I discovered the olives hadn’t been pitted – dough!

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 (200g) chorizo, thinly sliced
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 3 tsp (11/2 x 7g sachets) dried yeast
  • 1 tsp caster sugar
  • 500g plain flour*
  • 150ml lukewarm milk
  • 10 cherry tomatoes
  • 100g black olives
  • 4 thyme sprigs

Preparation

Heat 1 tsp oil in a frying pan over medium heat. Add chorizo and cook for 3 minutes or until golden. Transfer to a bowl. Heat remaining 3 tsp oil in the same pan and cook onion and garlic for 3 minutes or until starting to change colour. Toss with chorizo. Set aside.

Dissolve yeast in 200ml lukewarm water in a bowl. Stir in sugar and set aside in a warm, draught-free place for 20 minutes or until mixture bubbles.

Place flour and 3 tsp salt in a large bowl. Make a well in the centre and pour in yeast mixture and enough of the milk to form a soft dough. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead for 10 minutes or until smooth and elastic. Alternatively, knead in an electric mixer fitter with a dough hook. Place dough in a greased bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Set aside in a warm, draught-free place for 1 hour or until dough doubles in size. 

Turn dough out onto an oven tray lined with baking paper. Using your hands, gently shape dough into a rough triangular shape, about 2cm thick.

Using a plastic spatula, make a shallow indentation lengthwise through the centre of the triangle stopping 8cm from the base. Make 3 short diagonal slits on either side of the indentation to make a leaf-like pattern, making sure you cut right through to the work surface, but not through the outer edge of the triangle. Make 1 short slit at the point of the triangle, again cutting through to the work surface.

Pull the slits apart with your fingers and ensure they are pulled far enough apart so they won’t close up during the second prove. Make a few more shallow slits at random intervals in the dough and insert a little of the chorizo and onion mixture. Top the dough with the remaining chorizo and onion mixture and scatter with tomatoes, olives and thyme, lightly pressing ingredients to secure.

Loosely cover with plastic wrap and stand in a warm, draught-free place for 45 minutes or until slightly risen.

Preheat oven to 200C. Bake fougasse for 30 minutes or until golden and loaf sounds hollow when tapped with your fingers.

*For the best results, use a plain flour with a protein content of about 11 per cent. ‘00’ pasta flour from delis and supermarkets or type 55 flour, from delis, can also be used. The protein content of bread flour is too high for this recipe.

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