Fougasse is a flat oven baked bread originally from Provence, France. It usually incorporates,olives,cheeses anchovies etc and is like a rustic tomato-less pizza from France. In that case you can say it is similar to focaccia from Italy,but what distinguishes it from other flatbreads or focaccia is its shape. It is usually shaped into a leaf or tree like structure and the bread looks like awork of art. It is an excellent accompaniment to meals,soup or even as a teatime snack with a simple olive oil dip. I tried my first fougasse with the recipe adapted from Kingarthur Flour site and it turned out GREAT. This is one bread that surely increases your confidence in baking and is that simple to make.
All Purpose Flour: 1 cup
Water: 1/2 cup
Instant Yeast: 1/8 tsp
Starter: all the quantity mentioned above
All PurposeFlour: 1 cup
Whole Wheat Flour: 1 cup
Water: 1/2 cup
Instant Yeast: 2 tsp
Salt: 1 tsp
Olive Oil: 2 tbsp
Onions: 3/4 -1 cup thin and long chopped
Black Olives: almost 1/4 cup chopped
Salt & Pepper /Choice of seasoning :as per taste
Poolish: Combine the ingredients,give a nice stir and let it sit overnight covered with a plastic wrap.Most of the water will be absorbed while stirring,but do not add more.
Next day morning you can see few small bubbles on the top -a sure sign of yeast working its way.Any change in the texture of the poolish is welcome as it indicates yeast is alive.
Once the poolish/starter is ready,add in two types of flours and water,stir until just-combined,cover and let it rest for around 20 minutes. To this add, yeast,salt and olive oil and knead the dough for about 5 minutes until fairly smooth,but not elastic. Again, you may feel the need to add more water,but do not do so as it will change the texture of the bread -thats what I feel.
Keep the dough in a lightly greased bowl cover with a plastic wrap and let it rise for about 1.5 hours,gently deflating it and turning once after half time or 45 minutes.
While the dough is rising,saute the onions -chopped long and thin adding little salt until it starts to brown. You can even caramelize the onion or saute as how you want it. Once done,add in the required seasoning and adjust salt and stir in the chopped olives. Let it cool.
Once the dough is ready,knead in the olive-onion mixture.This will definitely make the dough more sticky and it is a tricky process. I had to literally stick the olive -onion mix onto the dough and fold it again and again. This is a part that took the patience out of me. It took a lot of time to finish the process,but the final result was worth it.
Shape the dough into a simple whole oval and place in a lined baking sheet. I actually divided the dough at this stage into 2 halves and worked with one piece at a time. Cover and let the shaped dough rise another 30 minutes.When ready, using a knife or choice of weapon, cut deep diagonal slashes all the way through the dough on both sides, towards the centre of the dough. Take the dough in your hands and you can see the parts separating in the middle.You can refer the videos here and here to get an idea of shaping. First time it may not come correctly but second time you onwards you can create perfect fougasses.You can freeze one half for later use.
Allow the shaped dough to rest again for another 30-45 minutes.Bake the bread in a preheated oven at 200C/400F for about 18-20 minutes or until the top starts to brown. Take out and transfer to a wire rack to cool completely before consuming.
Excellent bread for breakfast,snacking and meals.A bit chewy and slightly dense mostly because of the use of wheat flour. Onions and olives make it all the more hearty. The oniony fougasse is going to BBD#43: Onion Breads at Judy's Gross Eats,an event by Zorra