Minnehaha Falls

by tableofcolors

There is something about returning back to where you grew up. It feels safe as somethings seem to never change. The sound of the concrete Highway 100 with it’s rhythmic thump-thump, thump-thump as the car travels over the regular interval of cracks. Of course there are many things that do change as life goes on. People grow up and move away and the little kids you used to babysit are having babies of their own and the neighbor kids are off to college. I feel as if I haven’t changed, but in reality I’m sure I have as our environment and life shapes us in many ways sometimes unnoticable to ourselves as it has become so obvious. Maybe some parts of Highway 100 have been paved with asphalt after years of wear and tear and perhaps there are sections that do not produce the thump-thump noise that always seemed to lull me to sleep after returning home from Gramma’s and Grampa’s when we were little. And even if we did not sleep when we turned on our road, we pretended to, so that we could be carried in. It felt so safe.

Minnehaha fallsOften when I come  visit Minnesota in the spring, the season is quite far along. This year the winter had been harsh and there was still some snow and ice at the Minnehaha Falls. I have perhaps visited the falls as a little kid but did not have an clear memory of them. I did clearly remember celebrating Gramma’s fiftieth birthday in a parkway just a little further downstream. We drove through some of the old beautiful neighborhoods and past Gramma’s and Grampa’s old house. I had been just a little girl when the concrete steps had been poured and my foot prints are still there on Morgan Avenue.

Minnehaha and Hiawatha from Longfellows epic poem, The Song of Hiawatha

Minnehaha and Hiawatha from Longfellow’s epic poem, The Song of Hiawatha

One memory I have from childhood was when Grampa went to Paris. I have always loved traveling and I was pretty excited to see all of the pictures from the Bakery, Pastery, Chocolate, and Confectionary Trade show. It’s one of the leading events of it’s kind in the world and I just checked that the next one will be held in 2016. Wouldn’t that be fun! I rember that after that trip some new items started appearing at the Wuollet Bakery. One of them was the Fougasse which is typically associated with the Provence area of France(according to Wikipedia) and is similar to the focaccia. It really is quite simple but it is so pretty that it would make a nice housewarming gift if wrapped in some parchment paper and a ribbon. There are probably as many recipes for it as there are bakers. I found some inspiration from the BBC’s Good Food site and my version is below.

15 g fresh yeast/ 1/2 oz (7 g dried yeast/1/4 oz dried yeast)
500 g/17.6 oz bread flour (about 8.5 dl/3.5 c)
2 tsp salt
tsp sugar
2 tbsp olive oil
400 ml/ 1 and 2/3 c warm water

generous 1 dl/1/2 c olive oil
two handfuls of fresh parsley
4-5 sprigs of rosemary
little freshly ground black pepper
Maldon Sea Salt Flakes (finger salt)

proved fougasse dough
There are two ways to combining the yeast with the dough. It can be crumbled in with the flour or it can be added to the water, mixing until it dissolves. I personally prefer dissolving it in the water. Add in the salt and sugar. Mix with your hand or a wooden spoon. I used the dough hook on my stand mixer. After the dough has been mixed it will be quite soft and sticky. Flour your counter top and tip the dough onto the table. Knead so that you stretch it out away from you and fold over in half towards yourself and push with the heel of the your hand. Continue kneading and adding a little bit of flour at times if it feels too sticky. All flour is not created equal and some flour depending on how they have been stored might have less moisture content and will absorb more moisture in the baking process. As a general rule of thumb, I usually don’t add in all of the flour at the same time but with this recipe it probably is safe to do so. I had to add quite a bit of extra flour during the kneading process.

Once kneaded place back in the bowl and cover with a tea towl and allow to prove for about one hour. After the hour, tip the dough back on the floured counter and divide into two. Roll each piece of dough into a large rectangular shape. Place each bread onto a lined baking sheet that has about one glug of olive oil on it. Using a sharp knife, cut a diagonal slit in the middle with three additional small diagonal slits on each side to represent a leaf. Brush with olive oil. Sprinkle with the fresh herbs, black pepper and sea salt flakes. Bake at 220 C/425 F for about 13 minutes.
fougasse ready for the oven

Since this fougasse is brushed with olive oil, it really needs no butter and can be eaten as is. It is a great all-year-round type of bread. In the summer it is perfect with salads and in the winter it goes well with soups.
eating fougasse

photo by Jim Wuollet

photo by Jim Wuollet

This post is part of Angie’s Fiesta Friday Challenge # 1 which needed to included a recipe that used both yeast and herbs. As I was looking through some of the previous participants I noticed that Angie herself had entered a Fougasse. So there are now two with similar recipes. For a collection of herb and yeast inspired recipes follow the link above.