2 June 2009


Along with family celebration of me aging, I got a whole bunch of lovely presents. Among these were two books I'd had my eye on for a while - Richard Bertinet's Dough and Crust.. A you perhaps remember, I went to his place for two master classes last year. They were for Viennoiserie and Patisserie, but since I started making the kneadless bread last year, I've become a bit obsessed with bread.

So today I opened up the first book, Dough, and made one and a half batch of the basic recipe for white bread. The first recipe is for fougasse, something I first experienced in 2001, when I went to Montpellier to learn French. That was my last attempt of many to learn that language and I doubt I'll succeed, but the fougasse stayed with me. There was a bakery called Paul and they had something very misshapen and with olives in it. I loved it and had done some search on the internet, but all there seemed to be is focaccia.

7 g quick yeast
750 g white strong flour
20 g salt
525 g water

As Richard mentions, fougasse is from the same family of breads, but the way he does it, it is just beautiful to look at, not remotely close to what I bought in that bakery. So you can imagine my joy when the first thing I spot in my new book is Fougasse.

Now, I'm familiar with the method of working the dough, I've done it a few times on the brioches, but today I really didn't feel like slapping dough for 20 minutes, so I followed the instructions for the mixer, which worked ever so nicely.

I did end up over-resting the dough, as I made the saffron sponge cake in between. And I also had to take a break and watch the DVD that came with the book, just to make sure I did things correctly. The whole was surprisingly easy, I almost felt a bit cheated on that there was no shaping etc needed.

The only thing I didn't do (although I started on it) was to use a baking stone/thick tray upside down. I've yet to get hold of a baking stone, so I put in a baking tray, but once the fougasses were ready, I didn't have the confidence to slide them onto the trays, but used my thin baking sheets and put them in. Two things really - first of all, doing it with a swing would most likely have resulted in my beautifyl breads being quickly speeded onto the flame that comes out at the back, thus requiring a brand new oven most likely. Second, they would lose their beautiful leaf shape.


Sadly I was a bit stingy with flouring the baking sheets, so a couple of the breads had to be cut off when they were done.

What I also had confirmed is that my oven is unacceptably leaky. I generously sprayed with water just before and just after I put in each lot of fougasses and yet, I ended up with a sort of dull and very soft crust.


So definitely fine tuning required - put a pan with water in at the bottom and keep it there for the duration of the baking. Also move on to olive oil dough, I think that'll work rather nicely or put stuff in before the dough is left to rest - olives, sundried tomatoes, etc.

But I was unable to resist and had one for lunch and Lundulph and I had one each with our salad for dinner and we dipped in the oil from the pickled roasted chillies I made recently.


One word - YUMMY!


Once again a colleague had put forward the -off. This time sponge cake. Despite it's simplicity, it's well hard to think up a good one to do, there are so many variations!


When I mentioned it to my Mum, she suggested I try with saffron. This kind of appealed and I set about baking. The recipe is a very old one and for muffins actually, given to me by my good friend Doctor Cutie. She's always been a very good baker, so I have quite a few of her recipes.


75 g unstalted butter
1 dl milk or water
1 pinch saffron
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 dl caster sugar
2 eggs
3 dl plain flour
1.5 tsp baking powder
dissicated coconut for lining the tin
star anise for decoration

  1. Pre-heat the oven at 190 degrees C (gas mark 5).Melt the butter on low heat and set aside. Add the milk and stir in.

  2. Put 0.5 dl of the sugar along with the saffron in a pestle and mortar and grind it as finely as possible. Then add to the milk and butter mixture and stir in. Add the vanilla extract as well.

  3. Whisk the eggs and 1.5 dl of the sugar white and fluffy.

  4. Mix the flour with the baking powder.

  5. Pour the milk mixture slowly into the egg mixture, still whisking it in thoroughly.

  6. Bit by bit, add the flour mixture.

  7. Butter a cake tin of 20 cm diameter and line with dissicated coconut.

  8. Pour the cake batter into the tin, carefully place the star anise on top, turn down the oven to 180 degrees C (gas mark 4) and put it in the middle of the oven.

  9. Bake for about 30 minutes, check with a skewer for readiness.

As you can see my cake went a bit volcano and the reason for this is that I baked it a bit too hot - 195 degrees C, which causes the cake surface to set before the middle has heated up sufficiently and once it does, it expands and the only way to go is up in the middle of the cake, thus a volcano.

Due to various reasons I was not able to submit my cake into the competition, but will just bring it in to work anyway. It smells very nice, I suspect the star anise might have released some flavour as well.