Originally cooked in the ashes of the hearth, and typical of Province, Fougasse is a marvellous bread to eat. It’s pretty simple to make too; combining olive oil with flour, yeast and salt. Traditionally the Fougasse was a flatbread made to check the temperature of the wood fired oven; the time taken for the bread to bake indicated how hot the oven was. That said, it doesn’t need to be cooked in a wood fired oven; a really hot traditional domestic oven is fine.
Fougasse is a great vehicle for flavours, and the allotment is good at providing them at the moment. The red onions, which have been busy swelling over the last few months, are dried and ready to be used; and the woody herbs at the plot are all looking lush and fragrant. So, to combine the flavours of rosemary and red onion, or marjoram and sea salt, makes sense to me. I always think if they grow together (the rosemary and onions look at each other over the allotment path), then they probably will work together in food.
You will need (makes 8)
1kg strong white flour
100g refreshed sourdough starter (this is optional, but adds a depth of flavour)
625ml warm water
100ml olive oil
10g dry yeast
For the flavourings
1 red onion, finely sliced and fried until soft and succulent
1tsp. chopped rosemary
1tbsp. torn marjoram leaves
2tsp. sea salt
Mix all the ingredients into a loose dough, then leave to stand for 10 minutes to allow the flour to absorb the water and for gluten strands to begin to develop. Tip the mix onto a work surface, before kneading the dough until the dough comes off the work surface and has lost some of its stickiness. The dough will be sticky, but try not to add any extra flour; your bread will benefit from it if you don’t. Form the dough into a ball, place an oiled plastic sheet over it and leave for 90 minutes to 2 hours to ferment. Tip onto an oiled surface and stretch and fold the dough. Let it rest, covered once more, for a further half hour, the portion into 200g pieces. If including flavourings in the dough, flatten each piece and place a small amount of flavouring (cooked onion and finely chopped rosemary in my case), fold the dough over the filling and ball them up to rest again for a further 10 minutes. Roll out the balls of dough into rough triangular shapes. At this point you can add any toppings you want, gently pushing them into the dough with your fingers. Dust each triangle with flour, then use a sharp knife to cut slashes through the dough. Start with a slash down the middle, followed by diagonal slashes on each side of the centre to form a leaf-like effect. Carefully open the holes a little, stretching the dough as you do, before sliding onto a lined baking tray and baking in a hot oven for 10-12 minutes until golden brown.
Recipe inspired by those of Community Chef and Emmanuel Hadjiandrou.