POM Blueberry Fougasse

When I was still in the process of making these and thinking about the blog entry I'd write for this bread, I figured I'd either start out by declaring myself a baking genius, or saying I'd found out why no one uses fruit juice instead of water in bread. Now that I've made and tasted it, I'm leaning towards the former, but the idea could still use refining.

I got the idea while emailing Lee about making a lean dough version of the coffee rolls below and thinking about the fact that people use things like beer or potato water to make flavored breads (I've even put water from boiling garlic in bread) but you don't really see breads made with fruit juice, even though people put dried fruit in bread, and the juice would combine liquid, sugar, and flavor all together, so it should work well. I decided to try the idea with a recipe for sweet fougasse I'd made before, but wanted to try again with citrus or anise or something in it. I cut back on the amount of sugar to compensate for the extra the juice would add, added some dried fruit, and had to use a little more juice than the recipe called for water to get the same consistency. I used dried blueberries and blueberry pomegranate juice, but I think apple juice or cranberry juice would be nice too, as would most any kind of dried fruit. I wonder how coconut milk would be in bread.

I'm pretty happy with the results. The house smelled amazing while it was baking. It got pretty dark, as is to be expected from all the sugar in it. It is a little more dense than the regular sweet fougasse I made, and it has a nice blueberry flavor. Basically, it tastes like a lighter blueberry bagel (except better). I suppose I only think of it as being like a bagel because that seems to be the only kind of bread people are willing to experiement with. Other breads tend to be the same traditional loaves, but any bagel shop will have dozens of creative and original flavors.

I also just started something new I came across in The Village Baker by Joe Ortiz that I've borrowed from the library. It is a pain aux pommes that takes this idea of a fruit juice bread one step farther by making bread on a paste of fermented apples. It will take about two weeks to make the bread, including time to ferment apple chunks, but I am very excited about it.

Fruit Fougasse Recipe
Adapted from a recipe in Crust & Crumb by Peter Reinhart

4 cups bread flour
4 cups cool water
1/4 teaspoon instant yeast

Combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix until smooth.
Cover with plastic wrap and let sit at room temperature 3~5 hours, until bubbly.

Refrigerate overnight, covered.

Sweet Rustic Bread:
2 cups poolish from above
4 1/2 cups bread flour
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon instant yeast
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup (or more) fruit juice
1.5 oz dried fruit

Confectioner's sugar for dusting
Vegetable oil cooking spray

1. Measure out poolish and let sit at room temperature to take off the chill.

2. Combine the ingredients in a bowl.

3. Mix until gluten develops. (The recipe suggests 8 minutes with a dough hook on medium, or two minutes in a food processor, or 15 minutes by hand, which is what I did.) Cover with plastic wrap and let rise at room temperature three hours, or until increases 1 1/2 times in size.

4. The dough will have stiffened somewhat. Scrape it onto a heavily floured counter, flour your hands, and roll the dough around to coat it, kneading gently a few seconds. Form a loose ball and dust with flour. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise at room temperature one hour.

5. Cover three pans with baking parchment (either flat ones, or invert pans with a lip, because you'll want to be able to slide the dough onto a baking stone in the oven) mist the parchment with cooking spray and sprinkle with semolina flour.

6. Flour your hands and the dough, kneading a few seconds. Pat the dough into a disk about 6 inches in diameter, then cut into 6~8 wedges. Dip the knife/pastry blade into cold water between cuts so it doesn't stick.

7. Keeping your hands floured, transfer the cut wedges to the pans, leaving lots of room between them. Don't stretch the wedges. Mist with cooking oil, dust with flour, and let proof at room temperature 2 hours, until wedges have increased in size 1 1/2 times. Refridgerate overnight.

8. Remove the pans from the refrigerator 2 hours before baking and let rise until nearly twice their original size.

9. 40 minutes before baking, preheat oven to 475*F, with a steam pan on the lower rack, and baking stone on the upper.

10. Do not score the wedges. Slide them (and the baking parchment) directly onto the baking stone. Spray wedges and oven walls with water and pour 2 cups hot water into steam pan. Close the oven door, then spray the oven with water again after two minutes. After five minutes, reduce oven temperature to 425*F.

11. Bake the for about 20 minutes, rotating once halfway through for even baking.

12. Once wedges are golden brown, remove from oven and move to a cooling rack.

13. Spray the wedges with cooking oil and dust with confectioner's sugar. Let cool for 40 minutes before eating.