"Things won are done,
Joy's Soul lies in the Doing."
- William Shakespeare

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Our Daily Bread

It is true, what they say, that man cannot live on bread alone.  I'll tell you something, though.  This gal cannot live without bread.  I love the stuff.  The more rustic, the better.  Dense and chewy, light and airy, crusty and sour...you name it, odds are that I'm going to dig it.

And so, when I happened upon yet another tasty looking recipe in Dorie's Around My French Table cookbook, obviously, I had to get on with making it.  Well, eventually, anyway.  Thank the Bread Gods I did too, this stuff is amazing.

May I introduce...Provençal Olive Fougasse.

Okay, so for starters, the name, you know, called to me.  Provençe...olives...and a word I really don't know how to pronounce (but for sure will fake it).  Why hello, let's make some of that!

This is rather reminiscent of focaccia, but in my humble opinion, better.  Oil-cured olives (you can find these at your grocery store olive bar) give the bread a lovely, salty richness, orange zest and rosemary keep it fresh, and a wee sprinkle of coarse sea salt on the top...why, what's not to love?

On top of those bits of wonderful-ness, it's a make ahead bread.  Meaning, the dough takes only a few minutes of your time (unless you are truly hard core, and opt to make it by hand), you pop it into the fridge for anywhere from 6 hours to 3 days, and bake it right when you're ready for it.

And it's a social food.  A throw-it-on-the-table-with-some-wine-and-olives, share-it-with-friends, kind of food.  You form the dough into a leaf shape, before baking, and tear into it, casually, nibbles here and there, whilst chatting with your favorite people.  What could be better?

So, the directions that follow are going to be rather on the long side, but don't let that deter you.  Bread recipes tend to be fairly wordy, and I promise you, it's not one bit difficult.  Dorie's recipe, in the book, uses a stand mixer to make the dough, but as you may already have heard, I am lacking in that department, so I adjusted things a bit, to suit my bread machine.  Since those are the directions I can personally vouch for, that's what I'm including.  I'll also tack on the stand mixer directions, for those of you who want to give that a go.  Leave a comment for me at the end of this post, sharing how it turned out!

Provençal Olive Fougasse - adapted from Around My French Table
-makes 2 loaves

1 2/3 cup warm water
1 3/4 tsp active dry yeast
1 tsp sugar
4 1/2 Tbs extra virgin olive oil, plus 1 Tbs for brushing bread
4 cups all-purpose flour
1 3/4 tsp salt
1 cup oil-cured black olives, pitted and coarsely chopped
1 Tbs minced fresh rosemary, or 1 tsp dried rosemary
grated zest from 1/2 an orange
coarse salt for sprinkling - I used a Himalayan pink salt

For the Dough - Bread Machine Style

Into the bread machine pan, put 1 2/3 cup warm water, sugar, 4 1/2 Tbs olive oil, salt, and yeast, and let proof for about 5 minutes, until the yeast looks bubbly and creamy.  Add the flour, salt, rosemary, and zest, and turn your bread machine on the dough setting.

Bread makers tend to have a beep announcing time to add extras, well into the mixing cycle, so they don't get obliterated.  If you can, unlike myself, manage to be in the room at the time this goes off, add your olives in at the beep.  If, like my distracted self, you miss the beep, just add it in toward the end of the mixing cycle, the later the better.  If the olives don't get fully incorporated in the machine, no worries, just give the dough a quick stir, by hand, when the rising is done.

Oil a large bowl, place dough in the bowl, and oil the top, and cover with plastic wrap.  Skip to the Rising and Refrigerating step.

For the Dough - Stand Mixer Style

Pour 2/3 cup water into measuring cup and sprinkle the yeast and sugar over the top.  Stir with a wooden spoon, or rubber spatula, and let the yeast dissolve for about 5 minutes.  When the mixture bubbles and looks creamy, add 1 more cup of water, plus 4 1/2 Tbs olive oil.

Put flour and salt in the mixer bowl and stir to combine.  Pour in the yeast mixture, attach the dough hook, and beat at medium low speed for 2 or 3 minutes, or until flour is moistened.  Turn the speed up to medium and beat for 10 minutes more, or until the dough cleans the sides of the bowl.  The dough will be very soft and sticky, almost a batter, and it will pool at the bottom of the bowl, but that's fine.  (You can do the preceding by hand, with a wooden spoon, should you be crazy...kidding, I mean, so inclined!)

Mix the olives, rosemary, and zest together, add to the mixer, and beat for another minute or so.  The olives won't blend into the dough completely, so finish the job with a spatula or wooden spoon.

Lightly oil a large bowl and place dough in it, and oil the top of the dough, &/or plastic wrap.  Cover the bowl with plastic wrap, and put it into a warm place to rise, until doubled in volume, 1 to 2 hours, depending on the warmth of your room.  Stir the dough, cover it again, and proceed to the next step.

Rising and Refrigerating

Refrigerate for at least 6 hours, up to 3 days.  Dorie prefers to let the dough rest overnight.  I've also split the recipe, and made one batch after a rest overnight, and the second batch the next day.  The dough will probably rise to the top of the bowl, you can punch it down, or just leave it be.

Forming the Loaves

Remove the dough from the refrigerator, stir it down, and divide in half.  The Mister was kind enough to photograph the following process, so here's a little photo-tutorial, of the steps:

 Turn one piece of dough onto a floured surface, and flour the top of the dough.

Roll the dough into a rectangle (ish) shape, that's about 12 inches by 7 to 9 inches.  Precision isn't important here.  As you're working, lift the dough and flour the counter again if it's sticking.

Using a very sharp knife, single-edged razor blade, or an X-acto knife, cut about 4 slashes, about 2 inches long, at an angle down each long side of the rectangle, rather like the veins on a leaf.  Make another vertical slash near the top of the rectangle.  Again, don't worry about precision.

With your fingers, gently push and pull the slashes open, tugging the dough a little as you go.  Try to get the holes to open to about an inch wide.  As you cajole the dough, you might want to tug a little more at the base than at the top, so you end up with a bread that's flat at the bottom, and tapers toward the top, like a leaf.

 Transfer the dough to a large nonstick baking sheet or one lined with parchment paper.  (Alternatively, you can do this step before cutting your slashes and opening them, if it's easier.)

Repeat with the second piece of dough, or cover it and return to the refrigerator to bake later.

Cover the dough with a kitchen towel, and let rest 15 minutes.

Position the racks to divide the oven into thirds and preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.  (If you're baking just 1 bread, bake it on the lower or middle rack.)

Mix the remaining Tbs olive oil with 2 tsp water in a small cup.  Prick the dough all over with a fork and, with a pastry brush, lightly coat the fougasse with oil and water mixture.  Sprinkle the bread all over with coarse salt.

Slide the baking sheets into the oven and bake for 10 minutes.  Rotate the sheets from top to bottom, and front to back, and bake for another 8 to 10 minutes, until bread is golden - it won't get too dark.  

 Let cool for 10 to 15 minutes before serving.

How about that?  Enjoy!


  1. It's absolutely delicious! I had lunch with Ne'cole and the children yesterday which consisted of a delicious green salad with many yummy ingredients that she prepared and then a piece of her Provencal Olive Fougasse bread. It was to die for...I even got to bring home a little extra for my dinner! It's great having a daughter that is such a creative and adventurous cook!

  2. I am making this today with fresh rosemary from our garden..... thank you for the inspiration. Happy baking :)

  3. I hope you enjoy, Stephinie! Happy Baking to you too!