In French cuisine, Fougasse is a type of bread typically associated with the Provençe region but also found in other areas of France. Fougasse is the French word for focaccia, a common bread served in restaurants in the US.
I was first introduced to the French version of this white flatbread while on my cooking experience in the heart of France’s Côte du Rhone region, in the little village of Mollans-sur-Ouvèze. Naturally the French have been influenced by their many neighbors so this delight is a creation of cultural fusion. Fougasse can be made in many variations with toppings such as olives, herbes de Provençe, rosemary and sea salt. I usually stick to rosemary and sea salt. Last night I sprinkled it with black truffle sea salt and it was oh so yummy!
In a medium bowl, stir together the water and yeast until the yeast is dissolved.
Stir in 2 cups bread flour until smooth. Add remaining flour and salt, stir until the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl. Cover. You can refrigerate overnight or let it rise until double, about 40 minutes. If refrigerated, remove and divide into 2 portions then let it rest 10 minutes. If not, just divide the dough.
Heat the oven to 475 degrees F.
The dough will appear wet. Oil 2 baking sheets or line with parchment paper and oil the paper.
Scrape the dough onto the 2 baking sheets; using wet hands stretch each loaf into a rectangle.
Let rise for 15 minutes. Cut 3 large slashes on the side of each loaf. Place the loaves in the oven; immediately reduce the heat to 450 degrees.
Bake until golden and hollow sounding when tapped, 20-30 minutes. I like to mist my bread with water a couple of times during the baking process. Cool on a rack.
Special notes: Don't use "instant" yeast. Add salt "after" stirring in the 1st 2 cups of flour. Dough lasts in the refrigerator for 9 days.
Once you begin making fougasse I guarantee you it will become a staple in your dinner or appetizer repertoire.
Recipe credit goes to chef Mary Ellen Evans-The Write Cook and chef Hallie Harron.