Fougasse - French bread with endless possibilities


The #fishfriday meal of my French week was supposed to be a warm Salad Nicoise with pan-fried fresh tuna, steamed potatoes and haricot verts served with home-made Fougasse. But the stupid supermarket once again thwarted my plans, they had no fresh tuna. I get really annoyed when this happens. You plan something reasonably simple and then they don't have the ingredients. It's not like I was looking for Scorpion fish which also by the way they never have.

I do realise many people in the world struggle with more hardship. But still, not fair.

Canned tuna was a no, because it just wasn't the kind of salad I wanted to make, so I changed the main completely and did lovely roast new potatoes with baked salmon which was not particularly French, and haricot verts with butter and walnuts.

I decided to still do the fougasse, I love these types of breads where you can stick anything in like cheese, herbs, red onion or olives. I'm sure you could chop some saucisson in there if that was your thing!

French focaccia - Fougasse with olives and rosemary

I'm sure the bright reader already made the connection to Focaccia. If you didn't, don't feel bad, I'm sure you have other qualities. But yes this is the French cousin of the Italian Focaccia. Other relatives include Pogacsa in Hungary and the slightly loose moraled Hogaza in Spain. They all share an old Roman ancestor called Panis Focacius. No relation to Panis Angelicus.

I decided to go with olives and fresh rosemary for my fougasse. The thing about this bread in addition to the toppings is the shape. Mine is not a perfect example,  it's definitely a bit on the fat side. Do an image search in Google and you will see. Apparently it's supposed to resemble the ear of wheat whatever some of the images might make you think. It should be a bit triangular with a long cut in the middle and then usually three shorter diagonal cuts on either side.

Some seem to make it quite thin, almost pizza like, mine was more a loaf. Also you can either mix your add-ons in the dough or put them on top of the shaped loaf. Or maybe even do a bit of both.

I did just one loaf but if you want to do more, maybe try different toppings in each, the recipe is easy to double.

Olive and rosemary fougasse recipe

250g strong bread flour
3.5g dry yeast (half a sachet)
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp sugar
1 3/4 dl lukewarm water
1 tbsp olive oil

Toppings / fillings to your liking, e.g
2 tablespoons of fresh chopped rosemary
large handful of sliced olives

Mix the dry ingredients in a bowl. Mix olive oil and water. Make a well in the middle and pour in the water. Mix with a wooden spoon until well incorporated (or you can do it by hand). Sprinkle flour on the work top and tip the dough on top. Start forming a ball and kneading. Knead for about 5-10 minutes according to your patience. For me 5 will have to do.

Drizzle a clean bowl with some olive oil. Put the dough ball in the bowl and turn so it's coated with oil. Cover with clean kitchen towel and leave to prove for an hour or until it's about doubled in size and springs back when pressed.

Pre-heat your oven to 225C.

Tip the dough on a floured work top. If you want your fillings kneaded in add them now to the dough and knead lightly until incorporated. Shape your dough into a fougasse shape and make the cuts (and now add yout toppings if you want them on top rather than kneaded in).

Leave to prove for 20-30 minutes or until it looks like it ready to bake. You can brush with oil or milk and sprinkle with sea salt, but you can also just stick it in the oven as is.

Bake  for about 15 minutes or until crispy crusted and golden.

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