Apparently yesterday was Blue Monday, supposedly the most miserable day of the year. Based on a not-very-scientific-looking formula that takes into account weather, debt, breaking New Year’s resolutions and the fact that next Christmas is aaaages away, we were all supposed to sink into a pit of existential doom. Admittedly, it was a bit cold and rainy outside and the remains of the Quality Street were impinging somewhat on my healthier eating plans but all in all, it wasn’t so bad.
It seemed a tenuous enough excuse to bake something with blue cheese though. Of course, if I’d thought it through properly and planned ahead like a proper blogger, I would have ordered some Blue Monday cheese, as made by Alex James, and baked to the sound of New Order. But I didn’t and so this recipe handily uses up the last of the Christmas blue cheese, mainly Colston Bassett Stilton and Cornish Blue.
Fougasse is a bread hailing from France, especially the Provence region. It’s a distant cousin of the Italian focaccia, with both breads having their roots in ancient Rome, where panis focacius was baked in the ashes of the hearth. The pattern is supposed to represent an ear of wheat (not quite sure I pulled that one off). Enjoy with soup or lashings of salty butter.
225g white bread flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp dried yeast
140ml lukewarm water
1/2 tbsp. olive oil
50g blue cheese, crumbled or chopped
40g walnut pieces, chopped small
Sprinkle the yeast over the water and leave until frothy. Meanwhile, sift the flour and salt together in a bowl. When the yeast is ready, make a well in the centre of the flour and add the yeast, water and olive oil. Bring together to form a dough and knead it on a floured surface for about 10 minutes.
Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl, cover and leave to rise for at least an hour (mine took much longer, probably because it was Blue Monday). Knock back the risen dough onto a floured surface and bash it down to make a flat shape. Cover with the cheese and walnuts. Preheat the oven to 240C/220C fan/gas mark 8.
Fold the sides of the dough over to encase the cheese and nuts and then work it back into a ball of dough. Roll it out into a (rough) rectangle shape of about 11 x 6 inches. Move it carefully to a lined and oiled baking tray and, using a sharp knife, make one long slash down the middle of the shape and three either side, to resemble a leaf.
Cover with oiled cling film and leave it somewhere warm for half an hour to prove. Bake in the pre-heated oven for about 15 minutes, or until it turns golden. Guaranteed to perk up any Monday.