Sourdough Fougasse

"Little fougasse with sea salt, my favorite of all. And sea, it's coming soon...can't wait to share the news!"
-- @mydailysourdoughbread

200 g white wheat flour sourdough starter
500 g wheat flour (450 g of white and 50 g of whole wheat ?flour)
330 g water
10 g salt
20-30 ice cubes for creating steam during the baking
Yields: 3 big fougasses or 6 smaller ones


In the evening, first prepare sourdough starter. Mix 100 g of water with 100 g of white wheat flour and with a heaping tablespoon of active mother sourdough starter (the one you feed). Stir until there are no lumps in the batter. Cover the jar with a lid and leave it at the room temperature for 12-14 hours or until doubled in volume and bubbly. If you want to speed up the fermentation substitute a part of white wheat flour with whole wheat flour.

In the morning, your starter will be full of small bubbles and doubled in the volume. Dissolve all of your fermented sourdough starter in 330 g of water, mix by hand or spoon to disperse it.

Add 500 g of wheat flour and mix with hand until fully incorporated and no bits of flour can be seen. Leave the dough to rest (autolyse) for 30 minutes. If you don’t have 30 minutes, let the dough rest for at least 15 minutes. Handling will be easier afterwards as the flour would absorb the water and gluten strands will start to form. After autolyse, you will notice the dough has relaxed.

Now, add the 10 g of salt. Transfer the dough to a (plastic or glass) bowl. If possible, use smaller (or measuring) bowl for this quantity of the dough, to make difference in volume more obvious. Leave the dough to double in volume. In the first two hours of the fermentation perform 4 series of stretch and folds every 30 minutes. Notice how the dough is getting stronger, stretchier and more puffed with each series of stretch and folds. Keep the bowl covered with a kitchen cloth or a piece of cling film during the rise so that the surface of the dough doesn't dry out.

My dough usually needs 5-7 hours to double, yours can take longer or shorter, depending on the temperature in your kitchen and power of your starter. By the end of fermentation, the dough will look very alive, well-developed, strong and bubbly.

Using your dough scraper, turn the dough on the unfloured working surface. Dust the dough and cut it into three or six (equal) pieces. Flip each piece in a way that the floured surface of the dough is touching the working surface, then fold it onto itself and use your palms or bench knife to preshape the dough to the round shape. Dust the dough again, cover it with a cling film to prevent the dough from drying out and let it rest for 40 minutes.

Meanwhile prepare the parchement paper and flour it lightly. After 40 minutes of rest, take one piece of dough and first gently stretch it to a rectangular shape. Now, cut into the dough using the pizza wheel to create holes. Carefully stretch the dough again to end up with more open holes.

Flour the surface of shaped fougasse loaves, cover them with cling film and let them rest again for 40-50 minutes for the final proofing. Now, preheat your oven along with your baking stone and baking pan to the highest temperature of your oven. Place the baking pan on the bottom rack and your baking stone on the middle rack. If you baking stone is two small to hold all fougasses, put the rest of them into fridge while the first one is baking to prevent overfermenting.

When ready to bake, transfer the fougasse with the parchment paper onto the baking stone, immediately throw 10 ice cubes on the baking pan and turn down the temperature to 240°C/464°F. Throwing ice cubes will create steam and make possible for the crust to form. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown.