Fougasse, pronounced “foo-GAHS” is the French version of the Italian focaccia. Well known in the Provençal region of Southern France bordering the Mediterranean Sea and whose cuisine more resembles the flavors of Italy, Spain and Greece, the fougasse is simple yeast raised flatbread fragrant with olive oil and rosemary.The prepared dough is rolled out into and rectangular shape, then is slashed and pulled apart to create spaces in the dough. The history of this ancient bread dates back to around the 12th century and was traditionally used to test the temperature of the wood fired ovens. The time it took to bake the fougasse determined how hot the oven was and whether the rest of the bread could be placed in the oven to cook.
The fougasse dough comes together easily when using a bread machine to do the work of mixing and kneading. The briny olives and pungent rosemary are best kneaded in after the dough comes out of the bread machine. Letting the bread dough rest covered for about 15 minutes after kneading in the olives and rosemary relaxes the dough so it can rolled out easily. Serve warm or at room temperature with cheese, salami or a similar sausage and a glass of wine. Glorious food for a picnic!
Provençal Olive Fougasse
Recipe From Around My French Table
Adapted for the Bread Machine
1-1/2 cups water (slightly warm), plus extra 2 teaspoons
2 teaspoons bread machine yeast
1 teaspoon sugar
4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive, plus 1 tablespoon extra
3-1/2-4 cups all-purpose flour
1-1/2 teaspoons salt
1 cup black or green olives, pitted and coarsely chopped
1 tablespoon minced fresh rosemary
Grated zest of 1 lemon
Kosher salt for sprinkling
Combine the 1-1/2 cups water, yeast, sugar, the 4 tablespoons olive oil, flour and salt in the bread machine pan. Process on the dough cycle. You may need to add more water or flour, depending on the humidity. Remove dough to a lightly floured surface, punch down and knead in olives, rosemary and grated lemon zest. At this point, dough may be refrigerated for several hours or overnight. Divide dough in half; cover with a kitchen towel and let rest 15 minutes.
On a lightly floured surface, roll each piece of dough into a 12 by 8-inch rectangle, adding flour to keep from sticking. Transfer the dough to a large non-stick baking sheet or one lined with parchment paper. Using a sharp knife, cut 4 slashes about 2 inches long, at an angle down each long side of the fougasse. Make a vertical slash near the top of the rectangle, if desired. With your fingers, carefully pull the slashes open, about an inch wide.Don’t worry about each slash being perfect-it is a rustic bread! Mine aren’t perfect, either.
Cover the dough and let rest 15 minutes. In the meantime, position oven racks to divide the oven into thirds. Preheat oven to 450° F. Mix the remaining olive oil and water together in a small cup. Prick the dough all over with a fork. Brush on oil and water mixture, sprinkle all over with the Kosher salt.
Place baking sheets into the oven and bake for 10 minutes. Rotate the baking sheets from top to bottom and front to back, then bake another 10 minutes, or until bread is golden brown. Transfer the fougasse to a cooling rack and let rest about 10 minutes before serving.