In French cuisine, fougasse is a type of bread typically associated with Provence but found (with variations) in other regions. Some versions are sculpted or slashed into a pattern resembling an ear of wheat. It’s one of the simpler breads to make, yet can look smart and impressive. It’s crunchy outside and soft inside. It’s the equivalent of the Italian foccacia.
380g All Purpose Flour
1 1/2 tsp sea salt
1/4 tsp yeast
1 1/2 Tbs chopped fresh rosemary leaves
1 cup chopped black olives
Fresh herb and Pepper Dipping Oil:
2/3 cup good quality olive oil
3 garlic cloves, chopped
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp fresh coarsely grounded pepper
1/2 tsp red chili flakes
In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, yeast, salt, rosemary and olives. Stir to thoroughly mix and then add in the water. Mix the mixture well until the flour is no longer dry. Cover the bowl and stand for 14 to 18 hours (overnight) at room temperature. In the first 2 hours, I twice briefly folded the dough inside the bowl, to enable more mixing and encourage stretching of the dough.
After 18 hours, place the risen dough onto a heavily floured mat and with floured or oiled fingers, by gently pulling and patting it, shape this into a rough 10 x 10 inch square. Do not knead the dough. Then cut the dough into two equal halves with the scraper. Cut each half again into two roughly rectangular pieces, handling the dough gently to keep them light and full of air.
Taking one of the pieces of dough, transfer this onto a baking tray which has been covered with baking parchment and floured. Then using the edge of the scraper, make a diagonal cut in the center of the dough going through the thickness of the dough to the base, but not cutting through the side edges. Make more similar diagonal cuts fanning out on each side of the central cut. Placing your fingers in the slits, spread the edges apart gently to open and form holes. Try forming the shape of a ear of wheat!
Transfer the three other dough rectangles onto a baking tray, and repeat the same procedure. When all the sliced pieces are on the tray, cutting done, cover the tray with a damp towel and allow the dough to rise for another hour. Heat up your oven to 230˚C half an hour before bake time.
Just before baking, brush the dough surfaces with olive oil. Sprinkle with a little flaked sea salt. I use a small knife, blade oiled, to space the cut pieces so that these have room to expand during the oven rise.
Bake 230˚C for 20-25 minutes till lightly golden brown. In the first 5 minutes I spritz with water twice. Remove the fougasse when baked, and cool on a rack. Don’t over-bake or they will be hard! The baking parchment makes cleaning the tray easy. Just remove the parchment and discard.
Half an hour before consuming the fougasse, prepare the olive oil dip with fresh herbs and pepper. The half hour period prior to eating allows the herbs to permeate the oil to flavour the dip.
”We cannot love God unless we love each other, and to love we must know each other. We know Him in the breaking of bread, and we know each other in the breaking of bread, and we are not alone anymore. Heaven is a banquet and life is a banquet, too, even with a crust, where there is companionship.”- Author: Dorothy Day.