Fougasse
Fougasse is a traditional bread from southern France and this traditional Fougasse recipe will give you soft, light and flavourful Fougasse!
Makes: 2 Fougasse
Ingredients
For the Poolish
  • 165 g (6 oz) strong white flour
  • 165 g (6 oz) lukewarm water
  • 1 tsp dried yeast
For the dough
  • 310 g (11 oz) strong white flour
  • 185 g (6½ oz) lukewarm water
  • 25 g (1 oz) rye flour (or strong white flour)
  • 1 tsp salt
For an olive filling
  • 200 g (7 oz) olives, green or black or a mixture
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp mixed herbs
For a sun dried tomato filling
  • 150 g (5 oz) sundried tomatoes
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tsp tomato paste
  • 1 tsp mixed herbs
Instructions
Prepare the Poolish
  1. Add the yeast to the water, mix and leave for 10 minutes to allow the yeast to activate.
  2. Mix the yeast/water with the flour to form a soft paste. Cover and leave for about 2 hours at room temperature. The Poolish is ready when it has large bubbles in it and looks like it is about to collapse.
Prepare the filling
  1. Mix the filling ingredients together and leave to marinate for 2 hours while the poolish is fermenting.
Prepare the dough
  1. Dilute the Poolish with the water and stir to produce a smooth liquid slurry.
  2. Mix together the flours and salt. Make a well in the centre and add the diluted Poolish. Mix well to a soft and sticky dough.
  3. Turn the dough out onto a surface and work it for 10-15 minutes. Once the dough comes together there is a special way to knead the dough which is shown on the video.
  4. Place the dough on a floured surface and spread it out. Tip the filling on top, fold the dough over and, with the aid of a scraper, work the dough until all the filling is incorporated into the dough.
  5. Place the dough in a well-oiled bowl. Cover and leave in a warm place until the dough has doubled in size.
  6. Turn the dough out onto a well-floured surface and divide it in two. Shape each piece into a ball.
  7. Take each piece of dough in turn and roll out to about 1 cm (3/8") thick. Make cuts in the dough using your plastic scraper and pull the dough apart to open up the holes. Transfer the dough to a well-greased baking sheet.
  8. Place the baking sheet in a large plastic bag or cover with oiled plastic film. Leave in a warm place for 45-60 minutes to prove.
  9. Bake the Fougasse at 220°C/430°F fan oven, 240°C/465°F conventional oven for 8-10 minutes until puffed up and lightly browned.
  10. Transfer the Fougasse to a wire rack and brush lightly with olive oil while still hot. Leave to cool.
Notes
The Poolish is said to have two main effects on the bread. Firstly it gives it extra flavour and secondly it helps the bread to keep longer.

The rye flour in this recipe gives a slight depth of flavour to the bread but if you don't have rye flour simply use extra bread flour.

The dough will be very sticky and a plastic scraper is invaluable in making Fougasse. Use it to scrape the dough off your surface and also off your fingers! It may seem as though the dough will never come together but there comes a magic moment after about 3-4 minutes when the dough starts to come together. Use the technique shown in this video to knead the dough from that point onwards.

You may also think that there is too much filling when you first add it but with a little persistence it will all find its way into the dough.

Alternative fillings include sundried tomatoes or salted anchovies or caramelised onions. In each case you should still add the mixed herbs and the olive oil. At Christmas it is common to simply add Fleur d'Oranger (orange water) to the dough rather than a filling.

Fougasse is a great bread to just tear and share with friends over a drink. Bon appetit!