How to Make Rachel’s Bread Fougasse
As I was working on my cookbook, many of you asked for the recipe for fougasse, a crispy bread baked with fillings and cut into interesting shapes. Fougasse was one of the most popular baked items at Rachel’s Bread.
First made as a way to use up our Friday night leftover pizza dough, it quickly became a Saturday staple. And once we sold out of pizzas every Friday night, I started making the dough specifically for fougasse. I always worked them into the hectic Saturday schedule, between putting bread into and taking bread out of the two ovens. I would usually make 12 or 18. One Saturday morning, on a whim, (these come to me quite often!) I made enough for 30 and we still sold out. It was a crazy challenge and not easily repeated…
So here goes. I usually make the dough the day before and then fill them, shape them and bake them the next day. We made numerous varieties but the filling choices are very interchangeable. Maybe you will come up with one that is even better than the ones we offered.
2 ½ c. warm water
4 t. yeast
6 c. white flour
2 t. salt, dissolved in 1 T. warm water
The day or night before, in a large mixing bowl, dissolve the yeast in the warm water. Let rest until it bubbles, about five minutes. Stir in 4 c. of the flour, beating with a wooden spoon until the dough is smooth and comes off the spoon in strings, about five minutes. Add the salt. Stir for 100 strokes. Then slowly add more flour, as needed to form a dough that holds together. Turn out onto a floured surface and knead for five to ten minutes, until the dough turns into a smooth ball.
Let rise in a greased bowl for one hour, covered with a damp cloth, until doubled. Then punch down, put back in the bowl, and cover again for another 30 to 45 minutes until the dough has doubled. Turn the dough out onto the counter. Divide into three pieces and shape each piece into a ball. Refrigerate these pieces overnight either on a well floured pan covered with a plastic bag, or in individual ziploc bags.
The next day, turn each piece onto a well floured surface.
Pat and stretch into a 7” by 9” rectangle (more or less). Lay the fillings on the dough. Then gently, pull each long side together and pinch. Place seam side down on a parchment covered baking sheet.
Now, make the cuts. I made several different patterns depending on the filling. Here are some examples.
Using your fingers, stretch the cuts apart as much as the dough will allow. Then let rest for a half an hour. While the fougasse are resting, heat the oven to 450 degrees. At the end of the half hour, put the fougasses in the oven. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, turning halfway through the bake. Remove from the oven and enjoy!
Fillings we used included:
Apricot fruit spread, Brie and caramelized onions
Ham and cheese
Mushrooms, green onions and cheese
Kalamata olives and feta with tapenade
Gruyère, garlic and cream
Pesto and fresh mozzarella
Goat cheese and green onion
And more that I can’t even remember!!