Traditionally, fougasse can be found stacked throughout the bakeries in the south of France, topped with all kinds of dried herbs, spices, and even cheese. Now you can experience this taste right in your very own kitchen with very little effort and planning at all. It’s fun and simple to do, and it’s a creative way to show off your shaping skills. Try presenting this sourdough version at your next gathering for a delicious bread to enchant your guests.
About the Dough: Fougasse is best eaten warm, straight from the oven. For timing, you can rise the dough overnight, shape it the next day, and then chill until ready to score and bake, which is what I do when planning to serve this for guests. You’ll also need a small, sharp knife or razor blade for cutting the leaf-shaped design into the dough.
- Yield: 1 Large Fougasse
- ¼ cup (50 g) bubbly, active starter
- 1 cup plus 2 tbsp (270 g) warm water
- 2¾ cups (330 g) bread flour
- 2 tbsp (15 g) whole wheat flour
- 1 tsp (5 g) fine sea salt
- Cornmeal or semolina, for coating the pan
- Olive oil, for brushing
- 2 tsp (2 g) Herbes de Provence
- Parmesan cheese, to taste
- A few days before baking, feed your starter until bubbly and active. Store at room temperature until ready to use.
- Make the Dough: Whisk the starter and water in a medium bowl with a fork. Add the flours and salt. Mix to combine, then finish by hand until a rough dough forms. Cover the bowl with a damp towel and let rest for 30 minutes. Replenish your starter with fresh flour and water, and store according to preference.
- After the dough has rested, gently work the mass into a fairly smooth ball, about 15 seconds.
- Bulk Rise: Cover the bowl with a damp towel and let rise at room temperature until the dough has doubled in size. This will take about 8 to 10 hours, at 70°F (21°C).
- Shape: Line a sheet pan with parchment paper or a nonstick silicone mat. Sprinkle generously with cornmeal to prevent sticking. Remove the dough onto the sheet pan and let rest for 10 minutes. Gently flatten the dough into a 10-inch (25-cm) rectangle or oval shape, about ½ inch (1.25 cm) thick. Don’t worry about being precise with your shaping—the dough should look rustic, not perfect.
- Second Rise: Cover the dough and let rest at room temperature until it is noticeably puffy, about 1 hour.
- Preheat your oven to 450°F (230°C).
- Score: To create a leaf shape design, make a long cut down the center of the dough, leaving a small border at the top and bottom. Then make 3 smaller cuts on each side. With lightly oiled fingertips, gently stretch each cut open, to about 1½ inches (4 cm).
- Brush the surface of the dough with olive oil. Sprinkle evenly with the Herbes de Provence.
- Bake: Bake on the center rack for about 25 to 30 minutes, or until light golden brown. Remove from the oven, and cool for 10 minutes. Then lightly brush with olive oil. Sprinkle generously with the Parmesan cheese to taste, patting it down gently as you go. Serve warm, family-style, for everyone to tear and share.
- This fougasse is best enjoyed on the day it’s made. The thin crust-to-crumb ratio has a tendency to go stale quickly.