Make it // Fougasse
October 2, 2011
I’ve been a bit slack on the baking front recently and when I have gotten around to it, it has been the trusty focaccia or pizza dough recipes from River Cottage. I was looking for something to push me outside of my comfort zone a little, and the September challenge from Fresh from the Oven seemed like just the ticket: fougasse. I hadn’t heard the name before but have certainly seen the pretty leaf shaped loaves around at farmer’s markets.
It is a traditional French flat bread – not dissimilar to the Italian focaccia in texture. It is traditionally made in wood fired ovens, with the addition of toppings or ingredients mixed into the dough, such as olives, cheese, anchovies or even dried fruit.
It certainly took me outside of my comfort zone! Claire from Purely Food who hosted the challenge, suggested using Richard Bertinet’s recipe from The Telegraph, or Lorraine Pascale’s simpler version. Ever a gluten for punishment, I decided to give Richard’s a go.
Well, it wasn't as simple for me as Richard suggests. I’ve never dealt with such wet dough before - it took huge effort to get it from a sticky, gloopy mess to smooth, elastic dough – at least 25 minutes of vigorous needing. I wasn’t sure if I’d done something wrong and nearly gave up, but I’m really glad I didn’t.
I couldn’t have been happier with the outcome – crispy on the outside, soft in the middle and a fantastic appearance making it a real showstopper for entertaining. The fantastic leaf shape looks lovely and autumnal, and it makes the bread perfect for tearing apart and sharing.
My topping of choice was to brush the loaves with extra virgin olive oil and add a sprinkling of Parmesan. Reading blog posts about other attempts at this loaf suggest many didn’t find it as hard as I did, of course particularly those with a Kitchen Aid, so don’t be put off giving a go. I’ll definitely try it again, maybe using a different recipe, and experimenting with different toppings like rosemary, chilli oil, sun dried tomatoes or thyme.
Related recipe posts you might like: