My son left me several small tubs of olives and these were sitting for days in my fridge. There was a 110gm tub of sliced black olives and I had the option of baking olive bread or something else. I decided to bake something else! I came across this uTube clip in The Bread Kitchen for Fougasse ( pronounced – foo/gahss), and decided to bake it. 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.

I modified the original recipe to suite my time. I made the poolish the night before and used 1/4 teaspoon dried yeast, instead of one. The next morning, I mixed all the ingredients, and kneaded everything in a Kitchen Aid mixer for 12 minutes. I then proofed the dough for 1 hour; before dividing the dough into two. Then shaped and cut the dough and proofed further for 1 1/2 hours before baking at 220˚C for 20 minutes.

Ingredients:

For the Poolish:

  • 165gm Strong Bread flour
  • 165gm water
  • 1/4 tsp dry yeast.

For the Dough:

  • 310gm Bread flour
  • 20gm Potato flakes
  • 1 tsp dry yeast
  • 1 tsp sea salt

For the Olive filling:

  • 110gm sliced black olives
  • 1/2 tsp dried rosemary
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme
  • 1/2 tsp dried basil
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 2 tbs olive oil

Method:

Make the Poolish the night before and leave this to proof at room temperature overnight.

I also made the olive filling and allowed the herbs and oil to soak into the olives in the fridge overnight.

Next morning after about 14 hours of proofing, into a Kitchen Aid bowl, weigh in the 310gm flour, 185gm water and 20gm potato flakes. Throw in the yeast and salt and mix all these up by hand till there’s a rough dough before using the KA and dough hook, to knead for 10 to 12 minutes. Just before the end of mixing, when the dough is already smooth, add in the olive and herb mixture and mix these in. It’s a wet dough and requires time kneading.

Next transfer the dough onto a floured surface and shape it into a rough ball. Proof for 1 hour. I then divide the dough ball into two roughly equal halves, and place each on to baking paper on baking trays. Flour the surface of the baking paper generously. With a small floured wooden rolling pin, roll out each dough ball into a rough rectangular shape with a thickness of about 1 centimetre thick. Then using a small oiled scraper or pizza cutter, make cuts/slits, into the dough and use your hands and the scraper to stretch the dough into shape. It will be useful to watch the uTube video before hand on how this is done. The video is found in The Bread Kitchen website. Proof further 1 1/2 hours, covered with a damp tea towel, and then bake at 220˚C for 20 minutes.

Remover the fougasse from the oven, use a brush to coat the surface with olive oil, and sprinkle lightly with sea salt crystals. Leave them to cool, before enjoying this aromatic bread.

This is the dough ball after removing the dough mixture from the Kitchen Aid bowl.

An hour later, the dough has proofed into almost doubling it’s size. Time to divide into two.

The advantage of flouring the baking sheet well, is that when you cut the dough and open up the cut edges to space it, the flour prevents the dough sticking to the paper.

It helps if you oiled both sides of the scrapper so that when you make the cuts into the dough, the rather wet and sticky dough does not adhere to the scrapper.

I covered the surface of both trays with damp tea towels to do the final proofing for the next 1 1/2 hours. Using the dough on baking paper makes cleaning of the trays easy as no grease gets to them.

The final product cooling before tucking in. The aroma from the herbs is so delicious.

“Our greatest weakness lies in giving up.
The most certain way to succeed
is always to try just one more time.”
Thomas A. Edison