I've come to the conclusion that 70% is perfect. Not 70% cocoa content in chocolate (although that is my favourite) but 70% water content for dough when using bakers percentages. Bakers percentages take the weight of flour as being 100% and then the rest of the ingredients are given as a percentage of that, so the fougasse recipe here could be stated as flour 100%, water 70%, easy-blend yeast 1.5% and salt 2%.
Really simple and it allows the recipe to be scaled up or down easily. I've made bread with maybe 50% water all the way up to in the 80s but I've decided 70% is my favourite. It leaves a sticky dough to start with but if you persevere with the kneading, resisting the urge to add more flour, in the end you're left with a lovely soft dough that rises like a dream.
Last night I repeated the fougasse recipe but after the first hour rise, instead of shaping into fougasse, I patted it out, rolled it into a tight sausage and put it into a well floured loaf tin. I left it to rise till doubled (about 50 minutes), dusted the top with semolina, put a big slash in the top then stuck it in a 200 deg oven. After 30 minutes I removed it from the tin and gave it 10 more.
I think it turned out pretty well. It flew out the top of the tin in the first ten minutes of cooking splitting nice and evenly down the slash I'd put in the top. The crumb was even and the crust nice and chewy. It could probably have handled another 5 minutes in the oven as the middle was slightly moist but as tin loaves are far from my speciality I'll let myself off. It seems to toast pretty well too.
A little thank you to Kavey too for the photo processing tips, that looks much better.