It’s half term week for us so a great excuse to do some fun baking with the kids. Why not try giving this fougasse recipe a go – perfect for Halloween!
My wife Sarah is just back from a hen weekend this evening so there’s time for me to write a quick blog post. I’ve had all three daughters at home with me for the past few days while Sarah’s been away and we’ve been having a brilliant time: drawing puppets, writing more ‘Choose Your Own Adventure’ books (like last week’s ‘Slugs Of Doom‘), and making cherry pie (above – recipe in my book, B.I.Y. Bake It Yourself). The kids are off school for half term this week and as I’m developing a few recipes at the moment, it gives me a great opportunity to spend a lot of time with them. They’re really looking forward to Halloween – it’s becoming almost as big a deal as Christmas in our house these days. This week we’ll be going up to Lavenham to stay with my mother-in-law, which means an excuse to go to Kentwell Hall again on Friday for their Halloweenies event. On Saturday, my eldest daughter and I are meeting Chris Riddell, Children’s Laureate and one of her favourite authors, as part of the Lavenham Children’s Literary Festival. And on Sunday we’re going for a slap-up Sunday lunch at Jimmy’s Farm.
But before all that, there’s the final of the Great British Bake Off to come on Wednesday night! I have really enjoyed this series, especially because I’ve been lucky enough to meet all of this year’s contestants. It’s also the first series where we’ve occasionally let the kids stay up and watch on Wednesday evenings and so they all have their favourite contestants (see picture above). For what it’s worth, I think my money is on Andrew to win on Wednesday, but the final three have all been extremely impressive so I can’t predict what’ll happen. Best of luck to Andrew, Candice and Jane – you’re going to have a brilliant year ahead of you. My eldest daughter was absolutely devastated that Selasi left this week but she’s going to send him the picture she drew of him above. I’m still really sad to think that this Wednesday will be the last ever Bake Off as we know it. We’d better make sure we really savour it!
I had a fantastic day filming at home with the chainsaw company STIHL on Thursday. I’m a big fan of the brand as my own chainsaw (pictured with me above) is a STIHL model and I really enjoyed watching the Timbersports event at Countryfile Live this year (see below).
I’ll reveal what I made in a few days’ time and I have to say, it’s pretty awesome! I also finally treated myself to a cake decorating airbrush this week, which I’ve been after for ages. It’s absolutely brilliant and if you make a lot of decorative cakes, I’d really recommend it – a perfect Christmas present for the baker in your life too. Anyway, if you’re up for a baking challenge, try the recipe below. If you’re looking for something a bit more straightforward for Halloween or during half term, try my pumpkin and pecan cupcakes here. Until next week, Happy Baking!
Foughoulish Fougasse Recipe – makes 4
Before I go into the detail of this recipe, if this was in my book, B.I.Y. Bake It Yourself, it would be a ‘level 3’ and you really need a stand mixer with a dough hook if you’re going to tackle this bread.
- 500g strong white bread flour (plus more for dusting the worktop)
- 2 tsp salt
- 2 tsp dried yeast (I use this one for all my breads)
- 375ml water
- 2 tbsp olive oil (plus extra for oiling the bowl)
- Olive oil spray (optional, I use this one)
- Black sea salt (optional, available here but you can use any coarse salt)
- Add flour to the bowl of your stand mixer, then add the yeast on one side of the bowl and the salt on the other. Mix the dry ingredients with a spoon
- Add the oil and the water to the bowl. Roughly incorporate with a spoon
- Turn your stand mixer onto medium and mix for 10 minutes with the dough hook attachment – this will produce a very wet dough
- Oil a clean bowl and transfer the dough into this, cover with cling film, and leave to prove for 1 hour
- Liberally flour your work surface and line two large baking trays with baking parchment
- Very gently tip the dough out onto the floured surface then sprinkle flour over the top of the wet dough
- Using a long, sharp knife, cut this dough into quarters
- Gently lift each quarter onto the baking trays so there are two on each tray
- Slash eyes, nostrils and teeth into each piece of dough. Open out these holes by gently pulling the dough into a skull shape
- Cover with baking parchment and leave to rise for 20 minutes. Preheat the oven to 220°C/fan 200°C/gas 7
- Spray the dough with olive oil or very gently brush it with olive oil if you don’t have a spray. Sprinkle with black sea salt (or salt or dried herbs of your choice – rosemary works very well)
- Bake for 20-25 minutes until it’s golden brown on top and browned on the bottom
- Enjoy with a hearty, autumnal stew – this bread is great for dipping!