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How to Make Fougasse

Why this recipe works If ever there was a bread made for crust lovers, it has to be fougasse. Revered by professional bakers, this loaf is still relatively unknown to everyday cooks, at least outside its home territory of Provence. It is related by name and pedigree to focaccia, which comes from just over the border in Italy. But unlike its Italian cousin, fougasse gets an elegant twist: After being stretched and flattened, the dough is given a series of cuts, usually in fanciful geometric patterns, to create multiple openings in the finished flatbread and give it a leaf shape. As pretty as the sculpted breads are, the openings are not just for aesthetics: They dramatically increase the crust-to-crumb ratio so that nearly every bite includes an equal share of crisp crust and tender, airy interior. The cuts also help the bread bake very quickly. Most bakeries don’t make a separate dough for fougasse. Instead, they simply repurpose extra dough from some other product, such as baguettes. We decided to follow suit and started with our Bakery-Style French Baguette recipe, and then changed up the shaping. To make shaping the fougasse easy, we rolled it out with a rolling pin so that the dough was level, transferred it to parchment, and cut into it with a pizza cutter, which proved the perfect-size implement. The fougasse looked flawless, but the substantial crust was too hard and tough. We tried adding olive oil to the dough, as we’d seen in some recipes, to soften it, but this eliminated any crispness. Brushing the dough with oil before it went into the oven worked much better, producing a delicate, almost fried crunch and even browning that complemented a rosemary and sea salt topping. If you can’t find King Arthur all-purpose flour, you can substitute bread flour. The fougasses are best eaten within 4 hours of baking.

  • makes 2 loaves
  • resting time 30 minutes to 1 hour
  • rising time 18½ minutes to 19 hours
  • baking time 36 minutes
  • total time 20¾ to 21¾ hours, plus 20 minutes cooling time
  • key equipment 2 rimmed baking sheets, rolling pin, pizza cutter, baking stone, pastry brush

how-to-make-fougasse

  • ¼ cup (1 ⅓ ounces) whole-wheat flour
  • 3 cups (15 ounces) King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
  • 1½ teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon instant or rapid-rise yeast
  • 1½ cups (12 ounces) water, room temperature
  • cornmeal or semolina flour
  • ¼ cup (1¾ ounces) extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
  • 2 teaspoons coarse sea salt

1). Sift whole-wheat flour through fine-mesh strainer into bowl of stand mixer; discard bran remaining in strainer. Whisk all-purpose flour, salt, and yeast into mixer bowl. Using dough hook on low speed, slowly add water to flour mixture and mix until cohesive dough starts to form and no dry flour remains, 5 to 7 minutes, scraping down bowl as needed. Transfer dough to lightly greased large bowl or container, cover tightly with plastic wrap, and let rise for 30 minutes.

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2). Using greased bowl scraper (or your fingertips), fold dough over itself by gently lifting and folding edge of dough toward middle. Turn bowl 45 degrees and fold dough again; repeat turning bowl and folding dough 6 more times (total of 8 folds). Cover tightly with plastic and let rise for 30 minutes. Repeat folding and rising every 30 minutes, 3 more times. After fourth set of folds, cover bowl tightly with plastic and refrigerate for at least 16 hours or up to 48 hours.

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3). Transfer dough to lightly floured counter, press into 8-inch round (do not deflate), and divide in half. Working with 1 piece of dough at a time, gently stretch and fold over 3 sides of dough to create rough triangle with 5-inch sides. Transfer triangles seam side down to lightly floured rimmed baking sheet, cover loosely with greased plastic, and let rest until no longer cool to the touch, 30 minutes to 1 hour.

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4). Invert second rimmed baking sheet, line with parchment paper, and dust liberally with cornmeal. Transfer 1 piece of dough to lightly floured counter and gently roll into triangular shape with 8-inch base and 10-inch sides, about ½ inch thick. Transfer dough to prepared sheet, with base facing short side of sheet.

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5). Using pizza cutter, make 6-inch-long cut down center of triangle, through dough to sheet, leaving about 1½ inches at either end.

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6). Make three 2- to 3-inch diagonal cuts through dough on each side of center cut, leaving 1-inch border on each end of cuts, to create leaf-vein pattern (cuts should not connect to one another or to edges of dough).

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7). Gently stretch dough toward sides of sheet to widen cuts and emphasize leaf shape; overall size of loaf should measure about 10 by 12 inches. Cover loosely with greased plastic and let rise until nearly doubled in size, 30 minutes to 1 hour. Twenty minutes after shaping first loaf, repeat steps 4 through 7 with second piece of dough. (Staggering shaping of loaves will allow them to be baked in succession.)

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8). One hour before baking, adjust oven rack to lower-middle position, place baking stone on rack, and heat oven to 450 degrees. Brush top and sides of first loaf with 2 tablespoons oil. Sprinkle loaf evenly with 1½ teaspoons rosemary and 1 teaspoon sea salt. Slide parchment with loaf onto baking stone and bake until deep golden brown, 18 to 22 minutes, rotating loaf halfway through baking. Transfer loaf to wire rack, discard parchment, and let cool for 20 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature. Repeat topping and baking second loaf.

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variations fougasse with asiago and black pepper

Omit rosemary and sea salt. Sprinkle each loaf with 1 teaspoon coarsely ground pepper and ½ cup finely grated Asiago cheese before baking.

fougasse with bacon and gruyère

Cook 4 slices thick-cut bacon, cut into ½-inch pieces, in 10-inch nonstick skillet over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until crispy, 6 to 8 minutes. Using slotted spoon, transfer bacon to paper towel–lined plate. Omit rosemary and sea salt. Add bacon to mixer bowl with flour in step 1. Sprinkle each loaf with ½ cup shredded Gruyère cheese before baking.

olive fougasse

Add 1 cup coarsely chopped pitted kalamata olives to mixer bowl with flour in step 1.

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