Being a German Immigrant I often get this question: What do you miss most about Germany? Over the years the answer has remained the same. Besides family, of course, the thing I miss most about Germany is bread. After living in the US for over 15 years, I still have a hard time finding decent bread in the grocery store. The first couple of years I was so depressed about the choices here that I tried to bake my own. But living at high altitude, I found it very difficult to bake good bread. I gave up on sourdough breads completely, when one day I managed to produce a loaf that was so hard, it resembled a brick, and my husband suggested we try burn it in the fire place...
But never mind my failures. I found one great recipe that works even at high elevations. It is really fun and easy to make. I make it to go along with soups. The whole family loves the flavor, and the kids have been intrigued with the bread's leaf-shape since they were little and started to reach for the breadbasket.
I found the recipe in a cooking magazine many years ago. It's been so long I can't even recall where it came from. But it's a French style bread called Fougasse.
Here is what you need to make it:
4 cups of flour (I use 1 cup of whole wheat flour and 3 cups of regular flour)
1.5 cups of lukewarm water
tsp of yeast
1-2 tsp of sea salt ( I use 1 tsp since I try to cut down on sodium)
2 Tsp of Herbs de Provence
2 Tsp of extra Virgin Olive Oil plus some more
How to make it:
Put the flour, herbs de Provence, and salt in a large mixing bowl. Sprinkle the yeast on top of the lukewarm water in the measuring cup. Let it sit for about 10 minutes. Then add the water with yeast to the flour, add the tablespoons of olive oil and knead everything together. If you have a KitchenAid mixer, you can just stand by and watch as the dough hook does all the work for you. If not, roll up your sleeves and with some elbow grease you can do it. It's not so bad! Once the you have a nice big ball of sticky dough, put a little olive oil into the bowl and coat the outside of your dough ball with it. Cover with a towel and let rise in a warm place.
After the dough has risen for about an hour split it into two equal parts. Roll out each into a flat roundish disk shape. Use a Pizza wheel and cut slits in the shape of the veins on a leave into your bread. Pull the dough slightly apart to make the holes bigger where you cut it.
Place each loaf on a cookie sheet that you have sprinkled with corn meal. This will keep your bread from sticking to the sheet plus give it a nice crispy bottom crust!
Cover both breads with kitchen towels and let them rise in a warm place. While they are rising, arrange the racks in your oven so that you can bake two loaves at the same time in it! Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.
Rub some olive oil on the loaves of bread right before you put them into the oven! Put loaves in and set the timer for 9 minutes. After 9 minutes switch the two cookie sheets around. The bread that was baking on the top needs to go to the bottom and vice versa. After switching them around continue baking for another 9 minutes or until crust gets golden brown.
Can you smell the beautiful aroma of the Herbs de Provence yet? Yummy! It's so good! And you get two loaves at once. We eat loaf with our soup. The other I used for fixing school lunch sandwiches.