Fougasse bread is a French flat bread, a typical staple of Provence. Traditionally it’s styled in a grain of wheat style (like the photo) and it’s origins are thought to be Roman. It’s a bit like the Italian foccacia bread – but with a French twist. Fougasse was once used to assess the temperature of a wood fired oven. The time it would take to bake gave the baker an idea of the oven temperature and whether the rest of the bread can be loaded. These days we love it for its own unique taste.
How to make Fougasse bread from France
Ingredients: Makes 3 loaves
400g strong white bread flour
1 x 7g sachet fast action dried yeast
100ml olive oil
200ml warm water
Topping: 25g Gruyère, 25g Comte, 25g Cantal, all grated – (75g cheese in total)
Place the flour, salt, yeast, olive oil and water in a food processor. Blend to form a dough. Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 5 minutes until smooth and elastic. Put the dough in a large bowl and set aside to rest in a warm place for 1 hour.
Shape the dough into three rough oval shapes and make 3 slits across the bread on each side with a knife and 1 large one right down the middle, cutting right through the dough ~ you will have 7 slits in total, 3 on each side of the loaf and 1 in the middle. Stretch it with your hands and a rolling pin to about 30cm long.
Put the loaves on to greased baking trays, cover with cling film or a clean tea towel and leave in a warm place to prove until doubled in volume. Allow up to an hour for this.
Pre-heat the oven to 190ºC/375ºF/gas mark 5. Bake the fougasse loaves for 25 to 30 minutes. If you’re adding the cheese or another topping, take the bread out of the oven just before it’s done, sprinkle the cheese or other flavourings evenly over the bread, and return to the oven for 5 minutes. Eat warm or cold.
Alternative toppings to try: caramelised onions, other types of cheese, olives, rosemary, minced garlic, grilled bacon or lardons. Press them into the almost cooked loaf and proceed as before, baking them for a further 5 minutes.
By Karen Burns-Booth of award winning food blog Lavender and Lovage where you’ll find loads more scrumptious recipes!