Easy. Impressive. Can be hooked on the end of your bike handlebars. These chewy, pretzel-like loaves are my new Gleedom.
I mean, look at them! (let me show you an overhead.)
The Fougasse first caught my attention in Dorie Greenspan’s Around My French Table where she explains that this Provencal-style bread should be eaten warm and with simple food, like some saucisson and a glass of rosé. Ideal for picnics. And guess where I took mine? On le picnic. Man, sometimes my French instincts overwhelm me.
The recipe I actually used came from the book Dough by Richard Bertinet which has the Fougasse on the front cover. Most importantly in the book Mr. Bertinet said this was easy to make and would impress people. Well, who am I if not someone who wants to impress with the least effort possible?
You start by making a simple white bread dough (yeast, bread flour, salt, water) and letting it rest for 1 hr until it doubles in size. My dough took longer, maybe an hour and a half, perhaps the kitchen was a bit cool. Then you gently plop it on the counter-careful not to deflate it–and let it rest another five minutes.
Using your bread scraper you cut the dough in two (and giggle to yourself because it looks like a bum!).
And then into 6 pieces.
You then take each piece of dough and use the edge of your scraper to make a few diagonal cuts through the dough. Which you then “fan out” with your fingers.
You can also keep the dough rectangular and make parallel cuts and pull them apart to make a “ladder” shape. Fewer holes are better because as the dough bakes any small holes will close up. Obviously I am far (but pretty close) from being a master at this so I did most of my fougasse with only three cuts.
Now take your fougasse and pop them on a baking tray (or a wooden peel if you have one so you can slide it onto your baking stone already pre-heated in the oven 450 F). I baked mine two at a time on a tray. You can also press olives, or herbs into your fougasse at this point.
I did use a spray bottle to spritz some moisture into the oven before I shut the door to help get a nice crust on the bread (steam helps crust up the exterior and keep the interior soft).
Et Voila! 12 minutes later a delicious picnic snack. Just wrap them in a clean tea towel and go.
(Would also work as tasteful accessories for a meat dress).