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Fougasse (Provençal Flat Bread) with Walnuts by Heidi Hedeker

Fougasse (Provençal Flat Bread) with Walnuts by Heidi Hedeker

By: Terra Brockman (Read Bio)

Fougasse (Provençal Flat Bread) with Walnuts by Heidi Hedeker
Fougasse is a fairly simple bread to make, and easily adapted to your taste. This recipe adds walnuts, but you may also fold in herbs, cheese, olives, anchovies, or whatever you have on hand. A plain fougasse dipped in olive oil is also a simple and elegant way to go. This recipe makes one large fougasse.

Ingredients and Instructions

Sponge starter

  1. In a mixing bowl, combine all ingredients together into a smooth paste.
  2. Dust with a layer of flour over the top (this will indicate that the sponge is rising).
  3. Allow to rest for 30-50 minutes.

Final Dough

  • Turkey Red Wheat flour 250g
  • Salt 12g
  • Water 75g
  • Walnut oil 25g
  • Walnuts 100g
  1. Once the sponge has risen and is slightly domed, place all other ingredients into the bowl alongside, except walnuts (those get folded in later).
  2. Mix by hand to make a slightly shaggy dough.
  3. Bulk ferment in the bowl for 60 minutes, giving one fold at 30 minutes.
  4. Distribute nuts over the top of the dough, and give another fold. Allow to rest for 20-30 minutes.
  5. Turn dough onto bench and tuck edges under. Create the leaf shape of the fougasse. Brush entire surface with oil. Allow to rest for 10 minutes.
  6. Move onto parchment paper on back of sheet tray. Using an oiled bench scraper, make 8 cuts in the fougasse, to create a leaf (two in the center and 3 on either side, branching out). Open up the cuts to create fairly large holes that won’t close up during baking.
  7. Pull dough gently into place on the parchment paper.
  8. Dust dough with coarse salt. You can use leaves of herbs, also – if so, make sure to brush the herbs with oil before applying the salt.
  9. Pre-steam oven.
  10. Bake at 500F for 10 minutes, then reduce to 450 for another 20 minutes.

Notes

This recipe and all of the step-by-step photos are by Heidi Hedeker, certified master baker and a pastry chef instructor with Kendall College since 2004. She is an associate professor there, and working on a baking program for kids with immigrant roots called ‘It Bakes a Village’).

Heidi loves to make fougasse with Janie’s Mill heirloom Turkey Red wheat flour, which she first learned about from the Slow Food Ark of Taste website.

But Heidi has a much deeper and more personal connection to Turkey Red wheat, grown in the breadbaskets of Europe for centuries and prized for its hardiness, rich flavors, and excellent baking qualities. This, or a similar cultivar, is likely what Heidi’s ancestors grew for generations in the Crimea — between their immigration there from Germany in 1805, and their eventual immigration to the U.S. a century later (see maps below).

And here a number of stories merge . . . at the Slow Food Nations conference a few years ago, Heidi met Demetria Stephens, who with her father grows Turkey Red wheat on their farm in Jennings, Kansas. When Heidi mentioned her own family connection to a variety that may well have been Turkey Red, Demetria recommended that Heidi contact Harold Wilken of Janie’s Farm, who had sourced his Turkey Red wheat seed from the Stephens farm.

And so in that roundabout way, Heidi came to Janie’s Mill and put her arms around a big bag of freshly milled Turkey Red flour, embracing all the generations of farmers and bakers in her family, as well as their source of sustenance, pride, and joy. Given this history, it is no surprise that Heidi says baking with Turkey Red, “ is a spiritual experience for me. I imagine all those farmers back there looking with joy on their crops.”

Although fougasse is now associated with France, its origins are in Ancient Rome, where this form of bread was used to quickly test if the temperature of wood burning ovens was right for regular loaves of bread.

Janie’s Mill head miller Jill Brockman-Cummings (below, L) and Pastry Chef Instructor Heidi Hedeker bond over a bag of heirloom Turkey Red wheat (two years before we had even heard the term “social distancing”).

The maps below are from a family history made by Heidi Hedeker’s great grandfather. He was among the many German farmers who immigrated to Crimea when Catherine the Great invited them with the promise that they could establish villages and keep their German language, religion, and culture.

Posted on July 05 2020