Basic Bread Dough

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  • Level: Intermediate
  • Total: 1 hr 3 min
  • Prep: 30 min
  • Inactive: 8 min
  • Cook: 25 min
  • Yield: 1 1/2 pounds dough
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1 teaspoon active dry yeast

1 teaspoon sugar

1 1/3 cups lukewarm water (about 105 degrees)

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 teaspoon fine sea salt

4 cups bread flour, plus more if necessary


1 1/2 pounds Basic Bread Dough

Coarse cornmeal, for baking sheet

Olive oil or honey, for brushing on fougasse

Olives, herbs, oil-marinated capers, candied orange peel and granulated sugar, herbes de Provence, or aniseed for garnish

Cream and Sugar Bread Tart:

1/2 lemon, zest grated

1 pound Basic Bread Dough

1/2 cup creme fraiche or sour cream

1/2 cup sugar


  1. In the bowl of a heavy-duty electric mixer fitted with a dough-hook attachment, combine yeast, sugar, and water, and stir to blend. Let stand until foamy, about 5 minutes. Stir in the oil and salt. Add the flour, a little at a time, mixing at the lowest speed until most of the flour has been absorbed, and the dough forms a ball. Continue to mix at the lowest speed until soft and satiny but still firm, 4 to 5 minutes. Add additional flour, if necessary, to keep the dough from sticking. The dough will be quite soft. Transfer the dough to a bowl, cover tightly with plastic wrap, and place in the refrigerator. Let the dough rise in the refrigerator until doubled or tripled in bulk, 8 to 12 hours. The dough can be kept for 2 to 3 days in the refrigerator. Simply punch down the dough as it doubles or triples. Proceed with the individual recipes for bread tart or fougasse, recipes follow.;


  1. At least 40 minutes before placing the assembled fougasse in the oven, preheat the oven to 500 degrees F. Punch down the prepared dough and divide it evenly into 5 pieces. Shape each piece into a ball. On a lightly floured surface, roll each ball of dough into an 8 by 5-inch rectangle. Using a pastry scraper, cut 3 or 4 lengthwise slashes into the bread. Sprinkle a baking sheet with coarse cornmeal, and carefully transfer the rectangles of dough to the baking sheet. Gently pull apart at the slashes. Cover with a clean towel, and let rest for 10 minutes.
  2. Assemble the fougasse: Brush lightly with olive oil, then sprinkle with preferred toppings. Reduce oven temperature to 450 degrees F, and bake until golden and crusty, about 25 to 30 minutes. Yield: 5 fougasse

Cream and Sugar Bread Tart:

  1. Heat oven to 450 degrees F. Knead the lemon zest into the bread dough. Roll out the dough to a 10-inch round, and carefully transfer the dough to a baking sheet. Spread the creme fraiche evenly onto the bread dough right to the edge. Sprinkle with sugar. Bake until the tart is puffed and golden brown, about 25 minutes. Remove from the oven, let sit for about 3 minutes (so the cream and sugar solidify, and the tart is easier to cut), and serve. Yield: 1 (10-inch) tart;