Fougasse was traditionally used to assess the temperature of a wood fired oven
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For a while now, we have been having fun making the fougasse (The ‘French Provence version’ of the Italian focaccia, also a flatbread but still different in many ways).
This bread and the crust to crumb ratio is just perfect to accompany all kinds of spreads, dips and soups.
This is basically a straight yeast dough, but to add some more taste and interesting texture we add a little extra to it. For starters we add a poolish to the dough, next we use a combination of flours and we also add some semolina to the crust before baking. You can make a plain version or you can make a version with the optional extra bits in the shape of juicy green garlic olives and sun blushed tomatoes. The green and red speckles give the bread a colorful and festive appearance. You can also make your own ‘tapenade’ with the olives and tomatoes and serve this with the fougasse. Delicious!
And the baking of the fougasse takes no more than 12 minutes, so satisfyingly quick too. After the baking all you have to do is share and dip and enjoy!
Phase one: Making the poolish
To make this a one day recipe we make the poolish late in the morning and leave it to ferment for 4 to 6 hours. If you do not want to make the poolish or forgot you can add the ingredients to the final dough and use 7 grams of instant yeast instead of 5. But we highly recommend to schedule it in, it takes just a minute to make it!
Ingredients for the Poolish
150 g bread flour
50 g whole wheat flour
200 g water
1 g instant yeast
Make the poolish by mixing flour, water and yeast with a spatula or dough whisk until well combined (about 30 seconds), cover the bowl with clingfilm and leave to develop at room temperature for 4 to 6 hours.
Phase two: Making the fougasse dough
Ingredients for the fougasse dough
makes 4 pieces of fougasse
the poolish from step one
300 g bread flour
8 g sea salt
5 g instant yeast
approx 120 ml water, lukewarm
100 g finely chopped green olives and semi dried tomatoes (optional)
semolina flour for dusting the dough and peel
In the bowl of a standing mixer combine flour, salt, instant yeast and the poolish. Add the water and start mixing. Knead the dough for 7 minutes (12 to 15 minutes by hand). When done it should be slightly sticky, sticking to the bottom but not to the sides of your bowl. You can add the optional pieces of olive and dried tomato at the last minute of the kneading or you can fold them in later after you shaped the dough into squares. Cover and leave to rest for 30 minutes. Now give the dough a stretch and fold in the bowl by pulling the dough up from different sides and folding it over itself. Cover and again leave to rest for 30 minutes.
Now transfer the dough onto a floured work surface and divide and shape into 4 equal square pieces. The pieces should each be around 17 x 17 cm / 6.7 x 6.7 inches. Cover the pieces and leave to rest for 20 minutes.
Preheat your oven to 250 °C / 480 °F.
Prepare bread peels with a coating of semolina so you can easily shoot the fougasse into the oven or prepare a baking sheet if you are going to use that instead.
Take a piece of dough and lay it on the peel or the baking sheet, one point of the square pointing at you. Richly sprinkle the dough with semolina. Now take a small dough scraper or a credit card and make cuts in the dough. One big cut lengthwise and two smaller cuts on each side and stretch them a bit to open the cuts (see pictures). Repeat this process with the other pieces of dough.
Take the fougasse to the hot oven and try to create some steam immediately after the bread is placed on the stone.
Bake for 12 minutes and aim for a deep golden color. Take out of the oven and put on a cooling rack. Eat them fresh with all kinds of tapas, dips and mezzes, soups and stews. The fougasses also keep well in the freezer and are almost as good as fresh if you give them a minute in your toaster.