Fougasse is an uniquely shaped French yeast bread that is popular in the south of France, in particular, in the southeast of France, namely Provence.
Who does not like to think of Provence while cooking, the mere thought of this beautiful region of France evokes images not only of endless lavender fields but also of olive trees and lemon trees and tomatoes ripening in the sunshine. And then the wonderful smell of the Provençal herbs - herbes de provence (rosemary, thyme, basil...) comes to mind.
Unfortunately, I do not live next door to an olive grove or a citrus plantation, neither do I have the pleasure of having a lavender field in my backyard, but I did find some young olive trees and a lemon tree at one of my favorite nurseries - so when I dream of Provence whilst shaping the bread, I can still look at these photos.
Oftentimes, the fougasse is shaped like one big leaf, a wheat ear or other fanciful shape. The dough for this raised flatbread is prepared with quite a bit of good olive oil and one or more of the following ingredients, namely, pitted oil-cured green or black olives, lard fumé (smoked bacon bits), sundried tomatoes, garlic, an assortment of various herbs that are common in Provence such as rosemary and thyme and, of course, a sprinkling of good fleur de sel (sea salt). It can also be prepared plain with just a sprinkling of that wonderful French salt.
The fougasse is usually served whole to show off its fanciful shape and so everyone at the table can tear off a piece or two or more and enjoy the bread either on its own or with some chèvre (goat cheese), tapenade (olive paste), salamis or simply a bit of fruity extra virgin olive oil.
According to Dorie's recipe you add black olives, rosemary and lemon/orange zest to the dough. Considering the sheer uncontrollable growth of herbs in my garden, I decided to do two versions of Dorie's recipe. The first recipe exactly as written, namely, with olives, rosemary and lemon zest and shaped like a leaf.
The second version with Dorie's same basic dough plus the addition of thyme instead of rosemary and chopped oil cured sundried tomatoes instead of black olives. And this time shaped a bit differently.
Everyone around the table loved the fougasse, some liked it a bit better with the black olives, the others preferred it with the sundried tomatoes...chacun à son goût - we all have our preferences.
In conclusion, Dorie's recipe is a wonderful recipe if you like to eat fougasse and I have not met a person yet who does not like to have a bit of French bread with their lunch or dinner. It is easy to prepare in advance (which I happen to like quite a lot), and lends itself to some individual "interpretations", like different shapes and different additions to the basic dough, depending on what you have on hand and depending on what you and your family like. I should not forget to mention that the fougasse travels well and is great for bringing along to a party as a hostess gift or even to a picnic.
Bon appétit et bon week-end!
To see how the other Doristas prepared the Provencal Olive Fougasse, please click here!