Two breads for Thanksgiving. First, a few epi de ble:
And a big fougasse:
The breads in each picture were made using the same formula. The total recipe for each was 650g Bread Flour, 400g water (61.5% bakers percentage), 13g kosher salt (2% bakers percentage), 1 tsp instant yeast.
A day ahead of time I created a poolish with 800g of flour, 800g of water, and a tiny pinch of instant yeast. On Turkey Day morning I split the poolish evenly into two bowls then added to each bowl 250g bread flour, 13g kosher salt, and 1 tsp instant yeast. Each dough was kneaded in the Kitchenaid for 8 minutes at low speed, then moved to a lightly oiled bowl and allowed to rest for an hour — Note that I waited an hour in between the initial kneading of the epi and the fougasse so that they both wouldn’t need to go into the oven near the same time.
The doughs were folded directly in the bowls at one hour and two hours after kneading, then rested for another hour. They were then divided and preshaped as either pointy baguettes (epi) or a 1″ thick rectangle (fougasse), moved to Silpat lined sheet trays, then covered and allowed to rest another 30 minutes. (For the fougasse, it’s actually easier to preshape directly on the sheet tray.)
Again, this process was staggered by hour for the epi and the fougasse.
Preheat the oven to 460F.
Epi start shaped like baguettes with tapered ends. Kitchen shears are used to to cut the epi — start at the bottom and cut at a low angle to the surface, cutting almost all the way through the dough. Then lay the cut piece over to one side. Repeat up to the other end of the dough. Let the doughs rest another 30 minutes then they’re ready for the oven. Bake 12 minutes, then turn and bake another 12 minutes.
The fougasse can be cut with anything that won’t damage whatever is underneath. I used a small plastic spatula and then worked the holes open with the spatula and my fingers. Cover the fougasse and rest for 30 minutes, then bake for 12 minutes + 12 minutes.
Overall I think the epi came out pretty well. One pointer would be that thinner baguettes make more elegant and delicate epis, which is how I wound up with four thinner epi rather than the intended three thicker breads. The fougasse would have benefitted from being divided into two smaller doughs — the sheet tray wasn’t big enough to allow the holes to really spread out and become attractive. I had intended to do more of a triangle leaf shape but there was too much dough for that, so I settled on a ladder shape instead.
But ultimately it all tasted good and it was a fun “fancy” thing to do for a special occasion, though really it’s very little additional work as compared to regular baguettes or focaccia.