I was really looking forward to trying this one out, you should know by now that I love making and eating bread so when I was researching recipe techniques to make this Fougasse and found out it wasn’t that difficult to make, I just couldn't wait to share it with you!
Let me tell you a little bit of history about Fougasse first. This decorative loaf started its life in Provance, France but is seen to be the bread "cousin” of the Italian Focaccia…and we all know I LOVED making that focaccia a while back, BUT Fougasse is slightly different, the loaf is traditionally cooked on a pizza stone or in a hearth but it dates all the way back to Roman times when this loaf would have been cooked in the ashes of a hearth and was called a “focus” which I'm assuming is where the name originated from.
Fougasse is meant to represent an ear of wheat and has distinctive slash marks; one down the middle and three on either side, it’s then topped with fresh herbs, onions, and cheese and in Monaco, they often top the loaf with nuts.
For my interpretation, I’m using a more traditional topping of red onion, rosemary, and cheese with some coarse sea salt sprinkled over too. As I said at the beginning this loaf isn’t too difficult to make, so let’s get down to it!
Makes 1 Loaf
7g Dried Yeast
250g White Bread Flour
1 tsp Salt
1/2 tsp Sugar
150ml Tepid Water
1 tbsp Olive Oil
1/2 Red Onion, finely chopped
2 Cloves of Garlic, finely chopped
3 sprigs of fresh Rosemary (or 2 tbsp of dried)
50g Cheese, grated
2 tsp Coarse Sea Salt
Start by pouring the flour, yeast, salt, and sugar into a medium-sized bowl and stir with a wooden spoon until combined.
In a jug measure out 50ml of boiling water, then add another 100ml of cold water on top to equal 150ml of water altogether. VERY CAREFULLY dip a finger into the water, if it’s cool enough for your hands then add in the olive oil and give it a quick stir.
Make a well in the centre of your dry ingredients, pour the water in and mix with a wooden spoon until you have a soft and sticky dough.
Tip the dough out onto a well-floured surface and begin to knead. The best method I found in research is to gently stretch the dough away from you, fold that stretched bit halfway across the dough ball, turn the dough ball a quarter turn then repeat until your dough is no longer sticky and you have a smooth ball of dough.
Place the dough ball back into the mixing bowl, cover with a tea towel and leave to rest for 1 hour, it doesn’t matter about keeping it somewhere warm just leave it to rest. You should see your dough has almost doubled in size when you return and will spring back when you gently poke it.
Now for the topping! Heat up a saucepan on medium heat with 1 tsp of oil then add in your onion and cook for 3-4 mins until soft and caramelised. For the last 2-3 mins add in the garlic and fry until fragrant then take off the heat and let it cool for around 3 mins.
Tip the dough out into a floured surface once again and knead in all your toppings (except the cheese). I found this bit a little difficult and it’s best to do it in stages, sprinkling across the rosemary and salt then adding about 1 tbsp of onion and garlic before using the stretch and quarter-turn technique we used before, I found this to be the best option to incorporate the toppings without them falling out of the dough. Just repeat this process until you only have 1 tbsp of onion and garlic left then set that aside.
Gently roll the dough out into a roughly 20cm x 25cm rectangle and transfer it onto a large baking tray with a silicon mat. Evenly sprinkle over the rest of the toppings.
Now for the beautiful wheat decoration! I don't think I did this justice at all but I did try and now I know how to improve next time. Using a very sharp knife making a deep slash down the middle of the dough leaving about an inch gap on the top and bottom so we don't slice it in half, do the same three times working downwards on either side of the slash, still leaving that gap between the middle and side slashes, so we end up with a pattern that looks a little like a leaf.
Sprinkle over the grated cheese then top with a little more salt and a dusting of flour. Preheat your oven to 240C/ 220 Fan/ Gas Mark 8 and leave the dough to rest for 20 mins.
Place the dough in the oven for 10-15 mins until slightly risen and golden, leave to cool for 5 mins then slice up and enjoy!
I had a lot of fun making this Fougasse and although I lost the definition on the slash decoration it was really fun to make, not all that difficult and it tasted amazing! There was a rich saltiness that paired with the sweetness of the onion perfectly and then you had the fragrance from the rosemary that just married it all together so well, although my topping choices weren’t very original, there’s a reason that is the most popular traditional choice!
I think my loaf was quite fluffy and high compared to how it should be and that might be the reason I lost the decoration definition but that can be worked on with practice, I think this recipe is a fun challenge and good for both bread experts and newcomers who want to try a different challenge to a normal, simple loaf. Although my recipe uses cheese you could take that away altogether or maybe add nuts/olives to make this recipe 100% vegan, or if you still wanted the cheese just choose a vegan option, it’s not difficult to change this one at all and I think that’s why it’s so fun, you can make this into anything you want!