Fougasse, a bread I had never heard.
A French, flat, leaf shaped bread
(Update from France — went to I’sle sur la Sorgue today for market day. Tasted some wonderful cheeses and sausages that we bought for dinner. We have a little bakery in our town of 1800 and the first thing I noticed was they sold fougasse bread. Trying to find a goat farm, olive orchard and wineries to visit tomorrow.)
What is it about making bread that is so relaxing. Maybe it is the fact that it takes several hours to make with just a little work and then you produce this great smelling hot bread out of the oven that you can’t wait to get your hands on. I seem to make the biggest mess when I make bread. I have the flour all over me, the floor, and the counter. One would think I had never stepped in a kitchen before from the way I look with flour all over the place. I am not a neat baker to say the least but I think I can produce great things from the oven.
I hope while in France, that we are eating croissants every morning, French Baguettes with wine and cheese in the afternoon and some other fantastic pastries just for the heck of it.
Fougasse is a type of bread associated with the Provence area of France but is also found in other regions with variations. Some recipes will have olives, cheese, anchovies. Normally it is rolled into a rectangle shape and slashed then pulled apart at the cuts to resemble a leaf. Some bakers make it more tree shaped. This is almost a focaccia type bread but is baked a little crispier than focaccia. My focaccia is wonderful so I couldn’t await to try fougasse to compare.
Most recipes I looked at suggested letting your guest tear off chunks of break instead of cutting it.
So, we are traveling in Provence now and I hope I’m having this bread at some local bistro. I do so want to compare my attempt at making this bread to one from the area which made it famous.
My first attempt. Ok, this is suppose to look like a leaf but doesn’t this look like a face with a winking eye, twisted nose and mouth. I will try this again to see if I can get more open spaces.
So, I tried again and made this for Super Bowl night.
Oh what good things you can make with a little flour and yeast.
Herbs de Provence. What a wonderful blend of spices.
Add in the sun-dried tomatoes or olives or whatever extra ingredient you may want to add.
Make one cut in the center and three on each side.
This is what it looks like after lifting it up and moving it to the cookie sheet. The openings open up more. This broke at the top and I had to press it back together. The top gets brushed with some olive oil and then sprinkled with a little more Herbs de Provence before baking.
Fougasse (my second attempt)
(adapted from Epicurious)
1 1/2 c. warm water
1 tsp. dry yeast *
4 c. all purpose flour (I used about 3-3 1/2)
2 Tbsp. dried herbes de Provence**
2 tsp. fine sea salt
4 Tbsp. olive Oil
4-6 Tbsp. chopped sun-dried tomatoes
Pour 1 1/2 cups warm water into large bowl; sprinkle yeast over. Let stand until yeast dissolves, about 10 minutes. Stir in 1 cup flour, 1 tablespoon herbes de Provence and sea salt, then 2 tablespoons oil until well blended. Mix in enough flour, 1 cup at a time, to form thick and slightly sticky dough. Stir in the chopped sun-dried tomatoes (or olives or other ingredients)
Turn dough out onto lightly floured work surface; knead until smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes. Form into ball. Oil large bowl. Add dough; turn to coat. Cover bowl with plastic wrap, then towel. Let rise in warm draft-free area until doubled, about 1 hour.
Position 1 rack in center and 1 rack in top third of oven and preheat to 450°F. Sprinkle 2 baking sheets generously with cornmeal. Punch dough down. Turn out onto floured surface; divide in half. Press out each half to 11×8-inch irregularly shaped oval or rectangle (I tried to make mine leaf shape). Transfer to prepared baking sheets. Brush each piece with 1 tablespoon oil. Sprinkle each with 1 1/2 teaspoons herbes de Provence. Using sharp knife, make several 4-inch-long cuts in each oval (do not cut through edges), spacing cuts evenly apart and cutting through dough to work surface. (I made one cut at 12:00 and then three on each side.) Pull dough apart at cuts to create openings. (On a Youtube video the chef pick up the whole leaf which made bigger openings. That’s what I did the second time I made the bread.) Cover loosely with plastic; let rise in warm draft-free area until slightly puffed, about 20 minutes.
Place dough in oven. Immediately pour about 1/4 cup water onto pan in bottom of oven, creating steam. Bake breads until golden on top and slightly crisp on bottom, switching sheets between racks and turning front of each sheet to back of oven halfway through baking, about 18 minutes. Transfer sheets to racks; cool breads 10 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.
*some of the reviews on this recipe said they added 1 1/2- 2 tsp. yeast. My recipe was made with just one teaspoon.
**if you do not have herbes de Provence you can do a mixture of dried thyme, basil, savory and fennel seeds.
Below is the recipe I used for my first attempt.
(adapted from Laura Calder’s recipe)
2 2/3 c. sifted flour
1 tsp. yeast
1 tsp. salt
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 Tbsp. chopped fresh rosemary (or other herbs)
1/2 c. sliced green (or black) olives
1 egg, optional
splash water, option al
Put the flour in a large bowl. In another bowl, sprinkle the yeast over 1/4 cup warm water. Stir 1/4 cup flour from the large bowl into the yeast to make a paste. Let this sit until it starts to foam, about 10 minutes.
Make a well in the flour. Crack in the eggs, and add the salt, oil, and chopped rosemary. Pour in 1/4 cup water and mix. Finally, add the yeast starter to combine and greadually drew in the flour to make dough. Add the olives and knead into smooth dough. Place in a bowl, cover and let rise in a warm place 1 hour.
Punch the dough down and roll into a thin rectangle, using a rolling pin. Place on baking sheet sprinkled with cornmeal. Try and to shape this into a leaf. Cut three slits down each side to give the bread a leaf look. Separate the slits with your fingers to make long holes. Let the bread rise 30 minutes. meanwhile, heat the oven to 400°
Whisk together the egg and water, if using. Brush the top of the bread with the egg wash, then bake until risen and golden, about 25 minutes. Remove from the oven., and let cool 10 minutes at least before serving.