Day Eight on the Advent Calendar:
Christmas Trees and Bacon, Cheese & Garlic Fougasse Recipe
It’s time to talk trees, Christmas trees…….real trees or faux trees, what’s you preference? I have always loved a real Christmas tree, and avalanches of needle drop have never really bothered me – the smell and “presence” of a real tree in our living room has taken on a mystical and magical feeling that changes the whole atmosphere of the home, and I would gladly accept that feeling for every single needle that I find lurking under a cushion or hidden beneath a carpet, and usually in the spring. But, I am very particular about living or real trees; they HAVE to be cut from a sustainable forest or wood, where another tree (or trees) is planted for every tree that is cut, or, they must have a viable root ball, so they can be planted back in the wild, or as often happens, in our back garden. The other kinds of trees I love at Christmastime, are the solitary garden trees, those trees that have been dressed with fairy lights or outdoor light bulbs……..their branches sway in the cold wind and they glow in the dark, beacons of impending warm cinnamon spice whilst proclaiming that the festive season is nearly upon us. In actual fact I am a bit of a “green lady” (opposite to the green man I suppose!) when it comes to this time of the year; slips of greenery and prickles of holly with crimson red berries are brought into the house and adorn my kitchen, as well as shiny copper pans, jelly moulds and an old collection of orange Le Creuset casserole dishes. There is something wonderful and wild, almost pagan and elemental about bringing greenery into the home – the earth may be as hard as iron, but life goes on through glossy green leaves and ripe berries…….
After venturing out this morning to dress one of my trees with lights, I brought Christmas back into the house by way of a large branch of holly; it is now nestled amongst pine cones in a large blue planter on my kitchen dresser, and is my first official Christmas decoration of the season, and not too early I feel, as it is the second Sunday on Advent tomorrow. And then it was a day of warmth, old Hovis tins and baking – a bread baking day; clouds of flour and the pervading scent of sweet yeast filled the air as I kneaded away at my old scrubbed pine table. It’s a cathartic occupation bread making, a way to think and ponder as fluffy dough rises or banish hurt and anger as dough is thrown about and kneaded with vigour……it’s a chore that never feels like a chore and I make bread at least twice a week, for the table as well as for my soul.
Today’s bakery specials are my featured recipe, Bacon, Cheese & Garlic Fougasse, as well as Farmhouse White, Lincolnshire Plum Bread and some Mini Bread Loaves. I tend to start my dough off the night before, as I prefer a long slow prove, which results in a loaf of bread with better texture and flavour. I will be sharing all of the recipes, and my Lincolnshire Plum Bread has already been posted. Most of the bread is then frozen for the week ahead, unless I plan to have another bread making day soon, in which case they are all stashed away in an old enamel bread tin……in the cool of the pantry.
But back to my rustic artisan Bacon, Cheese & Garlic Fougasse Recipe; I adore this French flat bread, it’s like a pizza without the tomato sauce and excessive toppings, which, curiously enough I am not keen on in a pizza. It’s a firm favourite in our house and I often make about half a dozen to pop in the freezer for impromptu lunches and simple suppers. I have another recipe for Fougasse on the blog here: Fresh from the Oven, French Hearth Bread and Three Cheese Fougasse - a three cheese Fougasse, and just as tasty as my Bacon, Cheese & Garlic Fougasse recipe. If you have any of these classic French breads in your bread bin or freezer, you have the makings of a lovely meal, for any time of the day.
I see these rustic breads being an invaluable bake to have tucked away over the festive period too, and they would make a great accompaniment to soups and stews, as well as a boiled egg or two for breakfast. The recipe I am sharing is very easy and do let me know if you make these, I would be happy to hear how they went down at your family table! I have to leave now, I have more greenery to bring in, candles to find and more lights to string up over the mantelpiece. See you later with more recipes and ramblings…….have a wonderful weekend, and may all your weekends be filled with bread! Karen