I’m still, even after nearly three years, a little bemused by what a big thing Halloween is over here. It’s just not something we really get into in the UK. Brits certainly don’t tend to go trick or treating (I should imagine that it’s because it’s usually too cold and drizzly for those sort of antics).
I once spent dia de los muertos in Nicaragua – that certainly had a festive atmosphere (or maybe that was just the effect of the Flor de Cana). But other than stationing Mr Colonial Cravings by the front door with a bowl full of fun-sized sweets we’ve never really celebrated Halloween.
This will be my only real concession to it this year and that’s only because I really wanted to try making fougasse again, and I’ve always quite liked Edvard Munchs ‘Scream’. Obviously you can make it into the traditional fougasse shape too, check out this post for how to do it that way, https://colonialcravings.wordpress.com/2014/01/03/fougasse-with-garlic-lemon-and-rosemary/.
makes 1 but you can easily double it
250g bread flour
2g yeast (about 1/2 tsp)
1/2 tsp sugar
180g luke warm water
1/2 small red onion
50g Gruyère cheese
olive oil for frying
Mix together the flour, salt, sugar and yeast in a large mixing bowl. Add 3/4 of the water and start to mix it together to form a ball of dough. Add the remaining water (you might not need quite all of it) and mix it in until you have a soft, slack dough.
Tip the dough onto a clean work surface and knead it until becomes soft and smooth and isn’t sticky any more. The more you work it the less sticky it will become so try to resist the urge to add any extra flour. When you have worked the gluten in the flour enough the dough should spring back if you poke it with your finger.
Wash and dry your mixing bowl, so that it is nice and warm and then lightly oil it. Pop the dough in the bowl and cover it loosely with some oiled cling film or a plastic bag. Leave the dough in a draught-free place until it has doubled in size. Mine took just over and hour.
Whilst the dough is doing its thing you can prep the onion and cheese.
Slice the onion, not too finely, and fry it in a little olive oil. I do this slowly over a low heat so that it has plenty of time to become nicely caramelised. Once it has cooked you can leave it to cool. Cut the cheese into small cubes.
When the dough in ready you can carefully take it out of the bowl and put it back on your work surface. Flatten it out a bit and then scatter over the onion and cheese, keeping a little cheese back for the top. Roll up the dough into a ball and then gently knead it so that the onion and cheese become nicely distributed.
Sprinkle a bit of flour onto a chopping board. Stretch the dough out, with your hands, into a teardrop shape (or a skull shape if your making this for Halloween) and then place it on the chopping board. Either cut slits where the eyes, nose and mouth should be and stretch them out into circles or cut slits for a more traditional fougasse shape. Press any remaining cheese into top of the dough, re-cover it and let it prove for about 20 minutes somewhere warm. Normally I wouldn’t bother with a second rise for a fougasse but it’s worth doing it for this because working in the cheese and onion knocks out a bit of the air.
Pre-heat your oven to 250°c and put a large baking tray upside-down in there. Once the fougasse has risen for a second time take the tray out of the hot oven and carefully slide the fougasse onto it. Bake it for 15 minutes, by which time it should have formed a nice crust and the cheese on the top should have become temptingly golden brown. Enjoy whilst it’s still warm.