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Fougasse Bread with Tomato and Olives

Updated: Apr 26

Prep: 30 min // Prove: Overnight // Bake: 12 min

Fougasse easy bread recipe

What is it?

Put simply, fougasse is the French artisanal version of the Italian focaccia. Taste-wise, it is the most flavoursome, gooey and fragrant bread I've ever eaten! I bet most of you who travelled and walked through a Provencal market found it hard resisting to the charms of a freshly baked fougasse. Well, now with this recipe, you can make it at home. All you need is some pretty staple ingredients and some... patience as it takes a while to prove the dough. The result is really worth all the efforts in the world. It looks like a crusty flatbread and is served as an appetiser along with dips and spreads or paired with a nice cheese board and red wine. In our house though, this bread never makes it to the table. It’s so tasty and fragrant that we stuff our faces as soon as it comes off freshly baked from the oven (dipping it in olive oil).


Origins

The origins of this bread go back to ancient Rome (called ‘panis focacius’) but it looks that the recipe was spread and altered across the empire’s neighbouring regions. No wonder nowadays you find versions of this in France (like the fougasse), Spain, Portugal, Hungary, Turkey and the Balkans too in forms of cheese bread or cheese biscuit. In Greece, there’s also a variation that we call “Payneerlee” and resembles a lot this kind of enhanced flatbread but it is shaped and stuffed in a different way. I will post this recipe very soon, that’s a promise.


Recipe

Fougasse can be made with many different ingredients, from the humble rosemary, used in focaccia, to more complicated combinations of your own ingredients. There’s a lot of space for improvisation here (at step 4 of the recipe below). For this recipe, I went conservative and used the typical Provencal recipe with olives and dried tomato but used oregano and parmesan instead of gruyere and rosemary. At the end of this page, I have some product recommendations (mostly Greek that I know and trust) since I haven’t been introduced to the French equivalents yet.


Equipment

1 small bowl (for the starter), 1 big bowl (for the dough), baking tray, wooden working surface (a large wooden cutting board is fine, wood is the best material for kneading and rolling dough).


Ingredients (makes 1 loaf – 6-8 servings)

For the starter:

  • 75g strong bread flour

  • 75ml hot water

  • ½ tsp dried yeast

For the bread:

  • 200g strong bread flour (plus some more for working with the dough)

  • ½ tsp salt

  • ½ tsp dried yeast

  • 1 tbsp honey

  • 50g sun-dried tomatoes

  • 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil or infused olive oil (suggestion: use as much oil from the dried tomato vase)

  • 30g pitted black olives (Kalamata olives)

  • 70g parmesan cheese, grated

  • 1 tsp dried oregano



Method

  • The night before baking, prepare the starter. In a small bowl mix the flour with yeast and the water until well blended and sticky. Cover with cling film and set it aside in room temperature overnight (10-15 hours). As your starter activates, it will grow high, almost double in size, so make sure you’ve got this space reserved in that bowl.

  • 3 hours before baking, start your preparation: dissolve the honey in a glass of 100ml hot water. In a big bowl mix the flour, salt, yeast and slowly incorporate your starter and water/honey solution until you have a smooth and slightly sticky dough. If you feel the dough is too soggy, add some more flour and knead again.

  • Use 1-2 tbsp of the olive oil to coat your hands and the kneading surface and start kneading the dough vigorously for 1-2 minutes to absorb the oil. Then let it rest for 10 minutes and repeat the same process one more time and let it rest another 10 minutes.

  • Press the dough down to flatten and spread your filling ingredients (olives, sun-dried tomatoes, oregano and parmesan). Fold up and knead again for 3-5 minutes until everything is distributed in the dough, transfer it back to the bowl, cover with cling film and let it rise for 1 hour (will almost double in size).

  • Sprinkle your working surface with some flour and stretch your dough down to a flatbread size (around 1-2 cm thick). Give it any shape you like and with a sharp knife slash a few times to open holes on the top (see photo below). Cover with cling film and let it rise for another 1 hour.

Fougasse easy bread recipe

  • Preheat your oven to 200c (180c fan) and stretch the dough a little bit to redefine the shape. Bake for 10-12 minutes until a crust is formed (keep an eye in your oven - don't let it burn as mine in the cover photo unless you like it really crusty :-).

  • Let it cool down for 5 minutes before serving... et voilà!!!



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