Friday, July 1, 2011

Fugasse Bread

I just love this picture, sums up what Fugasse bread is all about... Rustic, unpredictable, oozing with cheese and fillings.  And just delicious looking!

I also have a very soft spot in my heart for this bread as it was the very first loaf of bread I ever made.  Since then, I make bread just about every week.  I love the smells, the fresh taste and the satisfaction it gives me.

But there is nothing like that first time!

So, here's you a challenge.  I hear from folks all the time about being afraid of yeast.  Quite simply, I know that I am not the best cook on the internet.  But I can bake bread, and I can make something pretty impressive.  You can too.  3 day weekend, if you have family plans, terrific, but if not... think about trying this.

Here's the post I did way back when, filled with photos and VERY easy to follow directions... You can do this!

Here's what I did...

Assemble the ingredients first. It does sound silly that I always start with this step, but more than once before I started doing this, I had to stop in the middle of preparations for a masterpiece and either run to the store or substitute something inferior... But I digress, here is a copy of Shelly's ingredient list...

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped onions
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped peppers (this can be one color or a combination of colors)
  • 1 package dry yeast
  • 1 1/4 cups lukewarm (110°F) water
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 4 cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
  • 2 cups shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
  • coarse sea salt (optional)
I am lucky enough to own a little electric chopper. Works similar to a big food processor, but is terrific at finely chopping onions, peppers, garlic, little bits of herbs, etc. I chopped up the onions and peppers...

And then I... - (Anything in BOLD ITALICS print, I admit to stealing word for word from Shelly)

1. Cook oil, onions and peppers slowly in a large skillet over medium-low heat until the onions are transparent. When you cook onions and peppers slowly, the natural sugars caramelize, and they become quite sweet. Set aside to cool to lukewarm.

Still stealing her words, I...

2. In a large bowl, stir yeast into warm water to soften. Add salt, sugar, 2 cups flour, 1 cup cheese, and the cooled peppers. Beat vigorously for 2 minutes.

Recipe thief that I am, I next...

3. Gradually add flour, a little at a time, until you have a dough stiff enough to knead. Turn dough out onto a floured surface. Knead, adding flour as necessary, until you have a smooth, elastic dough. Put the dough into an oiled bowl. Turn once to coat the entire ball of dough with oil. Cover with towel and let rise until doubled, about 1 hour.

I was (and always will be) Lazy. I let the Kitchenaid mixer do all the kneading. Am I posting too many pictures when I show photos of an oiled bowl waiting to receive the dough?

Here it is in the bowl...

And here it is covered...

And here it is doubled in size. I peed my pants a little when i uncovered it.

But wait, I was so optimistic, I doubled the recipe... What's the worst that can happen... Trust me, there is a second ball of dough under that second towel.

Next, I checked Shelly's recipe and I ...

4. Turn the dough out onto work surface. Knead in the remaining 1 cup cheese, leaving large streaks of the cheese visible. The streaks will toast and add an attractive look to the bread, not to mention a marvelous flavor.

Look Ma, I'm kneading!!!

And look at the streaks of golden cheese!!! And here's what Shelly told me to do next...

5. Shape the dough into a ball. Flatten the top slightly, and place on a well-greased baking sheet. Cover with a towel and let rise for 45 minutes.

I feel like such a terrible blogger, I failed to take a picture of the bread covered with the towel. Can you forgive me, can you possibly picture it in your mind's eye this ball of dough covered with a towel? Trust me I did it (although among BBQ bloggers, if you didn't photograph it, it didn't happen.

But I was busy, as Shelly said to do these steps...

6. Just before baking, brush the tops of the loaves with cold water and sprinkle with coarse sea salt, if desired. Slit the loaf in three places, about 1/2-inch deep, across the top.

And look closely, those are ice cubes in the bottom of the oven. Yeap, ice cubes, that is a trick only master bakers know... or, if you read master baker's instructions, master baker wanna Be's...

7. For added crispness, steam should be added to the oven for the first 10 minutes of baking. I put 2 cups of ice cubes directly on the floor of my oven. By the time they have melted and evaporated the 10 minutes is usually up. Since some people have trouble working with this theory, you can also put a pan of boiling water on the bottom shelf of the oven and remove it after the first 10 minutes of baking. Just be sure to work quickly to prevent loss of oven heat.

8. Bake in a preheated 400°F oven for 30 minutes, or until done. Immediately remove bread from baking sheet and cool on a rack.Makes 1 large loaf.

Hey... Look what I did!!!

And here's a tip I learned from my sainted mother... While the bread is still hot, take a little butter and gently rub into the crust of the bread. Makes it gleam, and prevents the crust from getting too hard... maybe, what do I know?

A HUGE HIT... just as good as it looks!

The second loaf looked just as good. I honestly was very surprised at how easy and satisfying this turned out. The sauteed onions and peppers made the bread sweet. The bread was very moist, solid (perfect for dipping in the chili). Best of all (to me), the presentation left everyone in awe. I could have presented smoked ribs, brisket and 12 pounds of pulled pork, and I do not think I would have received as much praise as when I showed off this loaf of bread. A real crowd pleaser...
In all humility... TOP O' THE WORLD MA


Really... Time consuming, but easy peasy

 But also, a terrific bread for sandwiches.  BLTs on these were my dinner last night.

BUT, the night before, I made open faced fried green tomato sandwiches with...

And here's a hint for my post tomorrow...

I fried the bread in BACON FAT for those sandwiches

Bread fried in bacon fat...

Happy Holidays to you!

You can find this recipe on  

And if you think you want to try this again in a few weeks, you can easily store the recipe in an electronic recipe box you set up, you control and only you see.  It's a great feature that lets you store all those amazing recipes you see on the internet.



  1. Wow! This looks amazing. I bet it tastes delicious.

  2. Cheese oozing out was all I had to hear...this looks so good!

  3. I'm making this bread tomorrow!!! I have all the ingredients already :D I was one of those people for YEARS didn't bake bread because of the whole yeast thing. But you are right, the satisfaction of pulling out a freshly made loaf of bread is amazing!

  4. Looks scrumptious and I want some, NOW! Maybe you could overnight me a loaf! Have a Happy 4th!

  5. Feel free to whip me with a package of yeast. I still can't make bread.

  6. HA! I always rub my bread with butter, too - trick from the same generation of mother's, no doubt. Sometimes I use olive oil...

  7. Wow this looks amazing - esp. with all that cheese! Homemade bread is the best!