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"A gourmet who thinks of calories is like a tart who looks at her watch." - James Beard


Monday, August 14, 2017

Fougasse - Herbed Bread

I've been enjoying The Great British Baking Show for a few years now.  It is such a lovely, calming competition show - basically the opposite of shows where contestants back-stab and sabotage each other. 

I have a decent baking vocabulary, but I'd never heard of Fougasse until I saw it on this season's botanical baking episode.  

Fougasse is a french flatbread, filled and topped with herbs, and shaped to look like a leaf.  

I really love baking bread and wish I did it more often. It can be a little warm to bake bread in the summertime, but this bread is so quick and easy, it's not going to make you sweat. There's no kneading, it can all be done in a mixer with a bread hook.

I used the recipe directly from the PBS Great British Baking Show website

I divided the dough in two and baked only one loaf to start.  

I tried to stretch and shape the dough by hand, like a pizza, but it ended up too thin in the middle and too thick on the outside, so it burned a bit in the oven.  The unburnt parts still tasted amazing though!

Since the dough is similar to pizza dough, I figured it would hold the same way in the fridge, so I refrigerated the second half of the dough for a few days until I was ready to try again.  

This time I used a rolling pin to roll out the dough evenly, and it worked perfectly.

We ate our fougasse with a simple soup and salad dinner, but it is amazing dipped in oil and balsamic vinegar as an appetizer.  It would also be a lovely gift to bring to a dinner party, to serve or for the hosts to enjoy on their own. 

Here's the recipe from the PBS website, with slight adaptations: 

500 g all purpose flour, plus extra for dusting
10 g table salt
7 g package instant yeast
2 tbsp olive oil, plus extra for greasing and drizzling
350 ml warm water
2 tsp chopped fresh rosemary
2 tsp chopped fresh thyme
2 tsp chopped fresh sage
½ tsp dried oregano
flaky sea salt


Place the flour, salt and yeast into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook. 

Add the olive oil and three-quarters of the water. 

Begin mixing on low speed. As the dough starts to come together, add the remaining water very slowly. Mix for another 8 minutes on a medium speed. 

Add the rosemary, sage and thyme and mix for a minute until the herbs are evenly distributed in the dough. 

Place the dough in a large bowl that has been coated lightly with olive oil.  Cover with plastic wrap and leave to rise in a warm place until at least doubled in size – about an hour. 

Dust the work surface with flour. Pour the dough onto the floured surface and divide the dough in half.  You can shape and bake both loaves now, or refrigerate half the dough in a zip-top bag for up to five days. 

On parchment paper, roll each dough half into a flat oval. Using a pizza cutter make two cuts in a line down the middle of the ovals with a gap between them. Make 12 diagonal cuts in the dough, 6 either side of the central cuts, forming a leaf design, then stretch the dough out slightly to emphasize the holes.

Lift the dough on the parchment and place onto a baking sheet. Place the baking sheet inside a large plastic bag and leave to rise in a warm place for 20 minutes. 

Preheat the oven to 430F.
Spray or drizzle a little olive oil over the top of the loaf.  Sprinkle with oregano and bake for 15–20 minutes, or until the fougasse sounds hollow when tapped on the base. 

Remove from the oven and while still hot, brush with more olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt.

Friday, August 4, 2017

The Beer Baron Presents - Craft Beer Road Trip: The Big Dipper

On the advice of a friend from the fabulous Milos’ Craft Beer Emporium, the Clockwatching Tart and I decided to check out Arabella Park Beer Bar in nearby Kitchener, Ontario. Rather than just blasting down the 401 and making a quick trip of it, we fired up our faithful Subaru and took to the country roads in search of food, drink and adventure.

Being the crafty Google Maps user, researcher and spreadsheet planner she is, the Clockwatching Tart planned a route taking us to breweries and bars both new and familiar and in the process created a route I’ve christened “The Big Dipper”. Basically a smaller version of the Waterloo Region Craft Ale Trail with some local sights thrown in for good measure, The Big Dipper started off with the Bitte Schön Brauhaus, a lovely little microbrewery in the comically lovely little hamlet of New Hamburg.

Bitte Schön was small but inviting with a nice set up and friendly staff. Having never tried their beer, we settled on a flight of four tasters and were impressed with their Alder Creek Altbier (which was dark and smooth and had kind of a lightly spiced caramel apple thing going on) and their Huron Street Hefeweizen (which was light and floral with wonderful citrus notes). We picked up some to share with friends and continued on our merry way.

Our next stop was one of those pleasant surprises that happens when you are out exploring. We noticed a park as we were crossing the bridge into New Hamburg so we went to check it out. Not only did we discover a stone pathway across the Nith River in Scott Park, we also stumbled upon the New Hamburg Heritage Waterwheel. Billed as the largest working waterwheel in North America and built in 1990, the waterwheel was awesome to see and made the day all the more special.

Next up was Arabella Park Beer Bar for lunch. With 18 taps primarily focused on regional craft beers and ciders, an impressive bottle list and locally sourced food rooted in Canadian cuisine, Arabella Park was perfect for us.

The Clockwatching Tart and I both found something unique to try from their tap list, with Revel Violent Delights (a spontaneously fermented cider with cherries and vanilla from the always wonderful Revel Cider Co.) and Left Field Brewery’s Lolly Mango Lassi IPA (a cloudy, creamy IPA brewed with mango, lactose sugar, cardamom and bright, citrus-forward hops). 

I had a hot dog and some fantastic fresh-cut fries...

And the Clockwatching Tart had fish and chips with a funky Vermont cider. The service, drinks and food were all fantastic, so I suppose the moral of the story is that when someone from Milos’ Craft Beer Emporium recommends a place, do yourself a favour and go.

Next up was Abe Erb Brewing Company, a more traditional looking dark wood and brass brewpub that was a nice place to get out of the summer heat. I had a Canada Day IPA with a nice balance of Red X malt and Citra and Centennial hops.

Our next stop was Descendants Beer & Beverage Co., where we made another fun, unplanned discovery. This time, it wasn’t a waterwheel but something equally unexpected:

A great folk band! Specifically, Onion Honey, who were having a CD-release party and were absolutely fantastic, talented and fun; so much so that we bought their CD to listen to on the drive home, making for a wonderful end to a wonderful day.

P.S. There is also a shuffleboard table at Grand River Brewing, in case you like things that are awesome.

This post comes from Matt, the Beer Baron. Follow him on Instagram and Twitter @geekcanuck