Chef Hitz reveals how to make this delicious Provence Bread, a treat to the eyes and palate !
About this recipe
Fougasse is a traditional southern France bread.
So beautiful, his shape makes an impression on my guests, and so tasty !
The kind of bread that makes you travel to Provence and Saint-Tropez. Every time I bake it, it smells Provence in the kitchen, and I start dreaming about vacations in beautiful Southern France
This bread is particularly excellent when served as an appetizer, used to dip in tapenades and tomato garlic spreads
Between you and me, this bread is soooo tasty that I eat it just with butter, and it's enough to make me happy !
Note that this bread cannot be stored until the next day. But if this was a problem, let me tell you : Fougasse is so good that I never saw a fougasse survive more than a couple hours after baking them at my home....
Origin of the recipe
Fougasse dates back to Roman times where the term Panis Focacius was used to describe a flat bread baked in the coals of wood-fired oven.
Bakers used to bake fougasse first as their test batch in order to assess the oven readiness for the remainder of their breads.
Some believe it to even be the precursor of our today's pizzas.
The typical shape represents an ear of wheat, but other shapes are popular in Provence bakeries.
Source of the recipe
A recipe that I found in the Magazine "Pastry and Baking"
The recipe is in the Magazine Volume #7, Issue #5 (2013), on Page 60.
The Chef here is Cyril Hitz, a well known Baker in USA from Rhode Island, author of a series of bread books.
Modifications to the original recipe
I modified only a few things...
● I divided the quantities in half
● Cyril Hitz adds some Malt (8 grams) that I didn't use because I didn't have any !
● I increased the quantities of Rosemary and Dry Yeast
● I sprinkle some Parmesan Cheese (instead of sea salt) because I love that salty cheese taste...
The Poolish starter
1. We start with the Poolish, or bread starter
2. One important note is to avoid tap water : the chemicals in tap water can "kill" the poolish
3. I use filtered water from my fridge dispenser, but you may use bottle purified water or better, a pure water like "Evian" or "Volvic", brands that I can find at my local "Ralph's" supermarkets in the States.
4. For the Flour, take a Bread Flour
5. Mix together the Flour (1 Cup or 150 g), the Water (⅔ Cup or 150 g) and the Dry Yeast (1 teaspoon or 2 g)
6. You may use simply a spatula or like me, use a bread machine
7. Cover with plastic wrap
8. Make a small cut to let the air go through so to let the dough breathe
9. Allow to ferment at room temperature overnight
10. Next day, you will notice the poolish has hundreds of bubbles !
11. Add to the poolish the Water (1 Cup or 220 g) then the Dry Yeast (1 teaspoon or 3 g)
12. Add the Flour (3 Cups or 450 g)
13. Add in the Salt (2 teaspoons or 12 g)
14. Add the Black Olives (1 Cup or 150 g), halved and chopped
15. Then finally add the Rosemary (0.1 oz or 3 g), chopped fresh
16. Knead until you get a nice elastic dough
Place dough in an oiled container and let ferment for about 2 hours, covered with plastic wrap
Divide dough in two and start shaping into rectangles
Cover with a wet towel and let it proof for about 30 minutes
17. Roll them flat with a rolling pin
19. Cover with plastic wrap to prevent a crust to form
20. Transfer onto a silicone mat sprinkled with corn meal
21. Let the doughs rest for about 10 minutes
22. Using a scraper, cut incisions on the top
23. Then cut incisions on the left side, on a 45 degrees angle
24. Same on the right side
25. Gently pull the fougasse dough along all corners, this opens the incisions
26. Place on a silicone mat
27. Pull the corners
28. Brush with Olive Oil
29. Sprinkle some Parmesan Cheese (Cyril uses sea salt but I prefer this cheese instead)
Bake in preheated oven at 440 °F / 225 °C for about 15/20 minutes
And so beautiful
You will love it, try it !!