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fougasse with rosemary & za’atar

i walked through this week, trapped in my own little bubble, filled with perfect, meaningless, everyday nonesense. in the meantime, a friend of mine had to go through a severe operation last week, pretty much out of the blue. she told me about it only later, when she was already back home and recovering. even though she’s fine now, i was still shocked. mostly because i didn’t even know about any of this. because, while i was living my meaningless everyday in mediocre content, she was suffering and worried. i know that things like illnesses and also loss, and the related grief, belong to life. yet, it hit me, how fleeting our time on earth is… and doesn’t that put everything – our own tiny bubbles – into perspective? 
so many things can happen to us. and all those moments that we are given are precious. it doesn’t matter what kind of a dress we wear for a special occasion, or what our flat looks like, or what car we drive. it superficial things are a nice thing, and sure, i like to indulge in beauty, a lot. yet, it’s not what matters. what matters is the people around us and how we can be of use to them. how we can make their lives prettier, easier, more bearable. how we can make a contribution with kindness, with a gift from our hearts. 
i think those rather melancholic thoughts (for which i’m sorry, but then again, i’m not) were brought on because realised that to me it didn’t feel right to go on with my nonesense everyday, while my dear friend was suffering. i don’t want to be oblivious to real pain around me. and i most certainly do not want to have a good time while someone else i care about isn’t. i don’t want to be lost in superficiality, while there are more important, real life things to think about. the thing is: i don’t only want to share my friends’ good times, i want to share their pain, as well. because when you’re together, you can bear more. so i’m hoping i will be less trapped in my own tiny bubble, and instead be more aware. and to be there for people i love. life is for sharing. it’s for sharing the good times, sure. like weddings, and birthdays, and a baby’s welcome to the world, and maybe a new career step, and maybe even a simple summer night. but it’s not only for sharing the good times, but most importantly also the bad. because we can make a difference in our friends’ lives. so why don’t we?
a note on fougasse: it looks impressive, right? yet it’s basically just a simple focaccia (to be completely blunt, ahem) that’s dressed up for sunday. the fougasse shape is this leaf-like shape with cuts in it. it will forever remind me of our innumerable holidays in provence, france, where you get fougasse in each little bakery. i made mine with just some herbs on top – one with fresh rosemary and one with za’atar – but you could use whatever your heart desires to make it a rustic bread experience. i’m sure black chopped olives would taste great, or even dried tomatoes or some grated cheese… go wild!

fougasse with rosemary & za’atar
(makes 1 fougasse)
ingredients: 500 g flour
1 tbsp. salt
25 g yeast
3 dl (about 1 cup) warm water
5 tbs. olive oil

for the topping:2 tbsp. finely chopped rosemary or za’atar (or whatever your heart desires)
maldon sea salt
olive oil

directions:mix the flour with the salt and create a little hole in the middle of it. mix the yeast with a bit of the warm water, pour it into the flour-hole. cover the yeast-water mix with a little of the flour and let stand for ten minutes. in the meantime, add olive oil to the rest of the water. after the ten minutes, pour the water-oil-mix into the flour and mix the dough either with a mixer or by hand in the bowl for at least 8 to 10 minutes. cover the dough and let rise for at least 45 minutes or longer in a dry, warm place.

preheat the oven to 200 c / 380 f. sprinkle a baking sheet with olive oil, liberally. ‘slap’ or depuff dough together. to shape your fougasse, use some olive oil on your work surface. with your hands, flatten the dough to an oval, long-ish shape. then make the cuts with a dough knife, in a leaf-like manner, or maybe like a rising sun’s rays (i’m such a poet). you can’t really go wrong. the only important thing is to now lift (!) the fougasse from the surface, grabbing it from the tip of the oval, and to let it hang (!) for a couple of seconds. this will make the fougasse’s cuts spread apart. put the stretched fougasse onto the oiled baking sheet. sprinkle with herbs or whatever toppings you have in mind. sprinkle with maldon sea salt and drizzle with olive oil (quite generously). let sit for 20 minutes to rise again. then bake for 15 to 18 minutes (depending on size).

i served mine with home made tapenade. quite the thing.

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