"In French cuisine, fougasse is a type of bread typically associated with Provence but found (with variations) in other regions. Some versions are sculpted or slashed into a pattern resembling an ear of Wheat,"(thanks Wikipedia). Ive seen this type of bread before, but I never knew the name until reading through my November Bon Appetit. I was sold as soon as I saw that it required design, and involved sun dried tomatoes, olives, and had origins in Provence. The writer who waxed poetic on this savory baked good compared his reaction to Fougasse to Christian Petrossian's words on Cavier, "En fin, all you really need to know is that Caviar makes you dream." So too, does fragrant hand shaped bread from the French Countryside. So I decided to give it a shot. Above you see the finished product, after I gave it as a gift, being eaten for dinner tonight (snapped on an iphone). No text could have made me happier ;)
I was thinking about it tonight and this could obviously be great in other varieties--I think oil-packed is key (think Italian antipasta), so why not artichokes and lemon, or just a lavender? Roasted red pepper perhaps?

And so it began. The recipe calls for 1 3/4 cups + 2 teaspoons warm water (105 to 115 F) divided, 1 3/4 teaspoons active dry yeast, 1 teaspoon sugar, 5 1/2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil divided, plus more for brushing, 4 Cups all purpose flour, 1 1/4 teaspoons salt, 1/2 cup oil cured black olives--pitted and quartered, 1/2 cup drained oil packed sun dried tomatoes, 1 tablespoon minced fresh rosemary, 2 teaspoons grated fresh lemon peel, coarse kosher salt.

Pour 2/3 cup warm water into a 2-cup measuring cup. Sprinkle yeast, then sugar, over; stir to blend. Let stand until yeast dissolves and mixture bubbles, 5 to 7 minutes. Add 1 cup warm water and 4 1/2 tablespoons oil.
Mix flour and 1 3/4 teaspoons salt in heavy-duty mixture (not so sure about heavy duty?! I think mine is pretty average). Pour in Yeast mixture. Attach dough hook (yessss, I only ever get to use the paddle attachment): beat at a medium-low speed until flour is moistened but looks shaggy (hm.. Not sure how flour looks shaggy but I went with it), about 3 minutes. Increase speed to medium; beat until dough pulls away from sides of bowl and climbs hook, about 1o minutes (dough will be like sticky batter).
Mix olives, tomatoes, rosemary, and lemon peel in a medium bowl. Add to dough and beat one minute. Using sturdy spatula, stir dough by hand to blend.
Lightly oil large bowl. Brush top of bowl with oil. Brush plastic wrap with oil; cover bowl oil side down (I hope you guessed as much). Let dough rise in warm draft free area until doubled, about 1 to 2 hours (I really don't think mine doubled).
Gently turn dough several times with spatula to deflate. Re-cover bowl with oiled plastic; chill overnight (dough will rise).

Sprinkle two large baking sheets with flour. Using spatula (somehow I don't own a spatula?! I used my hand), deflate dough by stirring or folding over several times. Divide dough into 2 equal pieces. Place 1 piece on floured work surface; sprinkle with flour. Roll out dough to 12x8- to 12x9-inch rectangle, sprinkling with flour to keep from sticking. Transfer dough to sheet.
Using very sharp small knife, cut 4 2-inch long slashes just to the right of center of rectangle and 4 more just to left to create pattern resembling leaf veins. Pull slashes apart with fingertips to make 3/4 to 1-inch wide openings.
Repeat with remaining dough. Cover dough with towel. Let rest 20 minutes. Beat 2 teaspoons water and 1 tablespoon oil in small bowl to blend for glaze.
position 1 rack in top third and one rack in bottom third of oven; preheat to 450F. Brush fougasse with glaze; sprinkle with coarse salt and pierce all over with fork.
Bake fougasse 10 minutes. Revere position of baking sheets and turn around. Bake fougasse until golden--about 10 minutes. Transfer to racks; cool 15 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.
I will say I'm not sure mine ever doubled or deflated. Seemed to work in the end regardless, but it did have me nervous there. Now you don't have to be.

I wrapped my still warm fougasse in parchment paper and ribbon to tote along as a gift. It tastes like yummy pizza crust with olive and tomato. Great for pulling apart at the dinner table with a simple meal. Enjoy ;)
*Dan Greenspan shared this recipe in Bon Appetit. His latest cookbook is "Baking: From My Home to Yours.

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