Cook the Book: Proven\u00e7al Olive Fougasse

[Photograph: Caroline Russock]

While in France Dorie Greenspan's home base is in Paris, but this recipe for Provençal Olive Fougasse from Around My French Table comes from a sunnier part of France southeast of the capital. Fougasse is a typical Provençal loaf somewhat similar to an Italian focaccia. The French version is commonly rolled out and formed into the shape of a leaf, or an ear of wheat.

Greenspan's fougasse is studded with oil-cured black olives, flecks of rosemary, and bits of tart and aromatic lemon zest. It's included into a chapter entitled "Nibbles and Hors d'œuvres" since the bread is meant to be served whole to make the most out of it's lovely shape, perhaps accompanied by some slices of saucisson a l'ail, a garlicky sausage, and a glass of rosé de Provence.

The dough comes together in a stand mixer and is left to chill overnight, firming up the texture and making for a dough that is incredibly easy to work with and form into a leaf-like shape. Once out the of the oven the bread is a perfect cocktail nibble: salty with plenty of olive flavor, crisp on the surface, moist and chewy within.

As always with our Cook the Book feature, we have five (5) copies of Around My French Table to give away this week.

Adapted from Around My French Table by Dorie Greenspan. Copyright © 2010. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. Available wherever books are sold. All Rights Reserved.

Cook the Book: Provençal Olive Fougasse

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About This Recipe

Yield:2 flatbreads, each serving 6

Ingredients

  • 1 2/3 cups plus 2 teaspoons warm-to-the-touch water
  • 1 3/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 5 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons salt
  • 1 cup oil-cured black olives, pitted and coarsely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh rosemary
  • Grated zest of lemon or 1/2 orange
  • Kosher salt or other coarse salt, for sprinkling

Procedures

  1. 1

    Pour 2/3 cup of the water into a measuring cup and sprinkle over the yeast and sugar. 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 the water, along with 4 1/2 tablespoons of the olive oil.

  2. 2

    Put the flour and salt in a mixer bowl and stir to combine. Pour in the yeast mixture, attach the dough hook, and beat at medium-low speed for 2 to 3 minutes, or until the 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 like a batter, and it will pool at the bottom of the bowl, but that’s fine. (You can mix this dough by hand using a wooden spoon, but you’ll need time and a lot of energy, since the dough is so very soft and stretchy.)

  3. 3

    Mix the olives, rosemary, and lemon or orange zest together, add them 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 sturdy rubber spatula or a wooden spoon.

  4. 4

    Lightly oil a large bowl and scrape the dough into it. Lightly oil the top of the dough, then oil a piece of plastic wrap. Cover the bowl with the plastic, oiled side down, and put it in a warm place until the dough doubles in volume, 1 to 2 hours, depending upon the warmth of your room.

  5. 5

    Stir the dough, cover it again, and refrigerate it for at least 6 hours, or for as long as 3 days. (I prefer to let the dough rest overnight.) If you’re keeping it in the fridge for a while, it will probably rise to the top of the bowl again, in which case you can stir it down, or not—it’s not crucial.

  6. 6

    Remove the dough from the refrigerator, stir it down, and divide it in half. Turn 1 piece of dough out onto a floured surface and flour the top of the dough. Roll the dough into a rectangle that’s about 12 inches long and 7 to 9 inches wide. Precision isn’t important here. As you’re working, lift the dough and flour the counter again if the dough is sticking. Transfer the dough to a large nonstick baking sheet or one lined with a silicone baking mat or parchment paper.

  7. 7

    Using a pizza cutter, a 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. If you’d like, make another 2-inch 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.

  8. 8

    Repeat with the second piece of dough on a second baking sheet (or cover that portion and return it to the refrigerator to bake later).

  9. 9

    Cover the dough with a dish towel and let it rest for 15 minutes.

  10. 10

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

  11. 11

    Mix the remaining tablespoon of olive oil with the remaining 2 teaspoons water in a small cup. Prick the dough all over with a fork and, with a pastry brush, lightly coat the fougasse with the oil and water mixture. Sprinkle the bread all over with kosher or other coarse salt.

  12. 12

    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, or until the bread is golden—it won’t get too dark. Transfer the fougasse to a cooling rack and let rest for at least 10 to 15 minutes before serving.

  13. 13

    Storing: You can keep the dough in the refrigerator for up to 3 days, but once baked, the bread should be eaten the same day.

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