fougasse IS different from focaccia! (BBB October 2011)

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BBB: Let's Get Baking summary: recipe for BBB Fougasse; information about Bread Baking Babes and YeastSpotting; (click on image(s) to see larger view and more photos)

There really is a difference. And right now we’re loving fougasse. So much that we have entirely rejected the idea of making focaccia. This month, I have the honour of hosting the kitchen of the month and have asked the BBBabes to bake fougasse as well and weigh in with their thoughts on the subject.

Bread Baking Babes (BBB) October 2011

fougasse (bbb) When I first read about fougasse, I thought it must be virtually the same as focaccia. I dismissed making fougasse because I’d made focaccia. They were the same, after all…. :lalala:

Our fougasse craze started after reading about Chad Robertson’s fougasse in “Tartine Bread”. (T gave Robertson’s book “Tartine Bread” to me for my birthday after being amazed by Chad Robertson’s boule shaping in his Tartine Bread video – the boule shaping method is at 5:54 on the video; we’ve recently finished reading it aloud – it’s a GREAT book!!)

But because of still being certain – what with my terrific retention skills when reading – that fougasse was simply French focaccia, I used the ingredients for our focaccia recipe along with Robertson’s shaping and baking method to make our first fougasse.

Amazingly, not only is the fougasse quite different from focaccia (even using the same dough), but both of us have decreed that fougasse is superior to focaccia. At least that’s what we think right now. :-)

Yes, indeed. We absolutely adore fougasse!! (Not that there’s anything wrong with focaccia!)

fougasse (bbb) Because fougasse is baked on a stone instead of on an oiled pan, there are more crispy bits. Not too crispy though… it’s juuuuust right!

Of course, it can be cut with a knife but we think that fougasse tastes better torn apart.

Surprisingly, there are few mentions and just a handful of recipes for fougasse in all the various bread baking books we have.

Imagine a small, round and flat loaf, so dense that a knife point cannot penetrate and slips off its surface, and you are obliged to break it in half with your hands. […] This was the bread of poverty, the bread of the peasant, baked under an inverted iron pan over which the ashes of the fire were heaped. The English called them ashcakes, and the French fougasses.
-Adrian Bailey, “The Trenchermen”, The Blessings of Bread, p.31
The lyrical, ladderlike bread known as fougasse is my Provençal pizza. I take my favorite bread dough, shape it into individual breads, then flavor them with whatever delicious toppings I might have on hand – black or green olives, home-cured anchovies, marinated baby artichokes, capers, bits of fresh goat cheese, a touch of hot pili pili oil, or simply a brush of olive oil and a scattering of fresh thyme and coarse sea salt. The most traditional fougasse is flavored with bits of browned pork fat (what we call cracklings), but one also finds sweet versions prepared with a butter-rich dough or briochelike butter and egg dough flavored with orange flower water. The origin of the word is a mystery, though in the rest of france a fouace can refer to any sort of flat, baked galette either sweet or savory.
-Patricia Wells, At Home in Provence, “Fougasse”, p. 191
[T]raditional French ladder or lattice-shaped bread […] is […] crisp, deeply walnutty, dense and chewy […] This bread is moist and full-flavored eaten by itself, and it is a fabulous complement to Roquefort cheese and Sauternes or port.
-Rose Levy Beranbaum, The Bread Bible, “Walnut Fougasse”, p.416
The Provençal flat bread known as fougasse is a crust lover’s dream: it’s flattened and scored, which maximizes the surface area that gets exposed to direct heat but still leaves plenty of room for toppings, such as olives, herbs, sea salt, and cracked pepper.
-Ben Mims, SAVEUR magazine No.130 “The Market Issue” June/July 2010, Shaping Fougasse, p.125
A traditional southern French flatbread, fougasse can be flavored with herbs, olives, and lardons (fried bacon or pork belly), and cut to resemble a leaf or ladder just before sliding onto the hearth to bake. The dough is pressed into a rectangular shape as for focaccia, and a bench knife is used to make swift, decisive cuts in the dough on the peel before it’s cast onto the hearth to bake.
-Chad Robertson, Tartine Bread, “Fougasse”, p.139

Of our books that do have fougasse recipes, in the ingredients sections, Wells and Robertson simply say to use the “bread recipe” on page…. The SAVEUR magazine (June/July 2010) fougasse recipe (based on one of Patricia Wells’ recipes) calls for oil to be mixed into the dough. Rose Levy Beranbaum suggests walnuts and walnut oil. (Her fougasse recipe looks great!)

olive fougasse Chad Robertson says for “herbs, olives, or lardons, incorporate the ingredients early in the bulk rise, after the first turn […] The just-baked fougasse can be brushed with olive oil and seasoned with salt and fresh or dried herbs after it’s pulled from the oven to suit your taste.” Wells suggests putting extra flavourings on top like a pizza, just before baking. Because we were planning to bake olive fougasse in the barbecue and often have to turn the fougasse over, I used Robertson’s idea.

After the first couple of times making fougasse, I noticed that in their books, both Patricia Wells and Chad Robertson suggest using lean bread or baguette dough. ie: no oil in the dough itself.

fougasse So we tried that too. And it was good. Really good.

We’re not sure if it was better than fougasse made with focaccia dough. Just different. It’s the shaping, slashing and baking that will produce the characteristic (I think) fougasse texture and flavour.

So. Here is what I propose. Use whatever ingredients you like in your fougasse. As Patricia Wells says, use your favourite bread dough. But please follow the shaping and baking methods set out below. Make the fougasse plain. Or fill it with things. Shape it however you like. Bake it in the barbecue or the oven. Whichever is more convenient. Have fun!!!

inspired by Chad Robertson’s fougasse recipe on page 139 in “Tartine Bread” and Patricia Wells’ fougasse recipe on page 191 in “Patricia Wells at Home in Provence”


  • Your Favourite Bread Dough (please scroll down to see the two recipes that I used)
  • Corn Meal ¹
  • olive oil
  • coarse salt
  • pizza stone, vaguely optional but highly recommended ²


  1. Mix, knead and allow your favourite bread dough to rise to double. If you are adding anything like olives, sun-dried tomatoes, onions, caramelized garlic cloves and/or walnuts, mix them into the dough near the end of kneading it or on the first turn of the dough. If you are wanting herbs/spices on top, please add them just before baking.
  2. fougasse Shaping: About an hour before baking the fougasse, turn the dough out onto a lightly floured board and press it out into an oval (or a rectangle; or a circle). Using a floured rolling pin, roll the dough out until it is about 1 cm (.5 in) thick.
  3. Sprinkle corn meal (to act as ball-bearings) on the peel – or an upside-down cookie sheet. Lay the shaped dough on the peel. Using a pizza wheel and “swift, decisive strokes” cut a design of a leaf or ladder into the dough. Take care not to cut through the outer edges. From the edges, pull the dough outwards to make sure the cuts are spaced. Cover with a clean tea towel followed by a plastic grocery bag and allow to rise. (Robertson allows the shaped bread to rise first and does the slashes at the last minute. Naturally, because of my stellar reading skills, I didn’t notice that until I had already made fougasse several times by slashing it directly after shaping it.)
  4. fougasse Just Before Baking: Drizzle with olive oil and scatter coarsely ground sea salt over top. (You can also do this step just after the bread is baked; that is what Robertson suggests. Or you can forget to add the olive oil at all, as I did the last time.) ³
  5. Baking If the weather is fine or just too hot to be turning the oven on, fougasse can be baked in the barbecue. If it’s raining or just too cold and dark, of course the fougasse can be baked in a conventional oven.
    • Baking in the Barbecue: Put a pizza stone over the half of the barbecue you will turn on and preheat the barbecue to high. Transfer the fougasse to the pizza stone that is sitting over direct heat. Close the lid of the barbecue and bake for about 8 minutes, rotating the stone once or twice or thrice to account for uneven heat in the barbecue (Hot Spots!!!). Then move the stone over to cook with indirect heat (lid down again) until the fougasse is done (about another 8 minutes)… our gas barbecue can be turned off on one side. Watch for hotspots and move the fougasse around to keep it from burning on one side. Because of the heat from the bottom, we like to turn the fougasse over. Just make sure to wait until the top crust is relatively well-formed.
    • Baking in the Oven: Put a pizza stone on the middle or top shelf of the oven and turn it to 400F (200C). Transfer the fougasse onto the hot stone and bake for about 15-20 minutes, turning it around at least once to account for uneven oven heat. The finished fougasse will be deep gold on the bottom and gold on the top.
  6. When the fougasse done, remove it from the heat and allow to cool on a well-ventilated rack. To serve, break it apart and dip it into good quality olive oil with herbs if you want.


1.) Corn Meal: This is to make it easy to move the shaped fougasse from the peel to the hot stone. We use a medium-grind corn meal. I’ve heard that semolina flour works as well and apparently, rice flour may be used as an alternate. Parchment paper is definitely a viable alternative with the advantage that it can be placed in the oven and slipped out once the fougasse is half baked.

2.) Pizza Stone: pizza stone Pizza stones are available at most kitchen supply stores in the larger cities (and possibly the smaller ones too?) in Canada. They cost about $10 and often come with a pizza wheel inserted in the box. They may be a little lighter weight and thinner than a conventional bread stone but the advantage is that they fit easily into a barbecue and they work pretty much as well to protect bottom crusts from burning to cinders.

3.) Shaping and slashing: fougasse (bbb) The traditional shaping for fougasse is in a leaf or ladder shape. But it can be shaped in any way you want. This was an attempt at a Jack-o-fougasse. I’m afraid I didn’t open the eyes enough before baking it.

Robertson shapes his fougasse and allows it to rise (covered with a tea towel) for 2 to 3 hours. Wells shapes and slashes her shaped fougasse at the same time and allows the fougasse to rest for about 10 minutes before baking it. Beranbaum also shapes and slashes at the same time, allows it to rest for about 15 minutes before baking and suggests using scissors (and gentle pulling with fingers) to open up any of the slashes that have closed during that time.

Here are three of the dough recipes I’ve used to make great fougasse:

Various Kinds of Dough Ideal for Making Fougasse
focaccia dough baguette dough with olives

fougasse Focaccia Dough
based on the focaccia recipe in “The Italian Baker” by Carol Field

I’m a little casual about measuring focaccia dough so have included only volume measures

  • ¾ tsp active dry yeast
  • 340ml luke warm water 4
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • pinch malt powder, optional
  • 2½ c unbleached all purpose flour
  • 1 c whole wheat flour
  • ½ Tbsp kosher salt 5


  1. Depending on the temperature of your kitchen, you can start this in the morning if it’s cool and in the early afternoon if it’s warm. Spoon the yeast into the bottom of a medium to large sized bowl. (I use a casserole dish). Pour the water over top and whisk until the yeast has dissolved and the mixture looks like diluted cream.
  2. Add the olive oil and dump the flours, malt and salt overtop. Using a wooden spoon, mix together until the mixture comes away from the side of the bowl.
  3. Turn the dough out onto an unfloured board.
  4. Wash and dry the mixing bowl (cleans the bowl AND washes your hands).
  5. Using a dough scraper as your friend and ally to keep the board clean, hand knead for about 5 minutes until the dough is soft and silky.
  6. Put the kneaded dough into the clean mixing bowl. Cover it and leave on the counter (out of drafts) until it doubles.

fougasse Focaccia Dough with Olives
based on the focaccia recipe in “The Italian Baker” by Carol Field and Chad Robertson’s instructions for fougasse in “Tartine Bread”

  • ¾ tsp active dry yeast
  • 340ml luke warm water
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • pinch malt powder, optional
  • 2½ unbleached c all purpose flour
  • 1 c whole wheat flour
  • several oil-cured black olives, pitted and halved
  • ½ Tbsp kosher salt


  1. Cut olives in half and remove the pits.
  2. In a decent sized mixing bowl, whisk the yeast into the water.
  3. Add the olive oil and dump the flours, malt and salt overtop. Using a wooden spoon, mix together until the mixture comes away from the side of the bowl.
  4. Turn the dough out onto an unfloured board.
  5. Wash and dry the mixing bowl (cleans the bowl AND washes your hands).
  6. Using a dough scraper as your friend and ally to keep the board clean, hand knead for about 5 minutes until the dough is soft and silky. About a minute before finishing, knead in the olives.
  7. Put the kneaded dough into the clean mixing bowl. Cover it and leave on the counter (out of drafts) until it doubles.

fougasse Baguette Dough
based on the recipe for Acme’s Rustic Baguettes in “Artisan Baking Across America” by Maggie Glezer and kneading method described in “Tartine Bread” by Chad Robertson

I’m a little less casual about measuring for baguette dough and usually use our digital scale to weigh the ingredients. This is enough to make one medium-large sized fougasse and two baguettes.

Yeasted Water

  • ⅛ tsp (.4 gm) active dry yeast
  • 125 gm (~½ c) warmish room-temperature water

Scrap Dough

  • 80 gm yeasted water from above
  • 115 gm (~1 c) unbleached all purpose flour
  • 2.25 gm (⅜ c) Kosher salt


  • 150 gm (~1⅔ c) warmish room-temperature water (including whatever yeasted water from above is left-over)
  • 100 gm (~1 c) unbleached all purpose flour
  • 50 gm (~½ c) whole wheat flour

Actual Dough

  • ⅛ tsp (.4 gm) active dry yeast
  • 180 gm (~¾ c) warmish room-temperature water
  • all the Poolish from above
  • 340 gm (~3⅓ c) unbleached all purpose flour
  • 9 gm Kosher salt (~1½ tsp fine table salt)
  • all the Scrap Dough from above

Mixing on the Evening Before Making the Bread

  1. Yeasted Water: On the evening before baking the bread, spoon the yeast for the yeasted water into the bottom of a small bowl. Pour in water and whisk together until dissolved and creamy looking.
  2. Scrap Dough: put flour and salt into the bottom of a medium sized bowl (I use a smallish lidded casserole dish). Pour in 80 gm of the yeasted water (reserve the leftovers for the Poolish) and use a wooden spoon stir the ingredients together. This will create a stiffish dough.
  3. Without adding any extra flour, knead in the air and/or the bowl until the dough is smooth (about 5 minutes). If it seems like there is too much flour, add a drop or two of water. Place the kneaded scrap dough into a smallish clean bowl that is large enough for the scrap dough to double. Cover the bowl with a plate and leave it on the countertop in a draft-free area until the next morning.
  4. Poolish: put the flours into the medium sized bowl used for mixing the scrap dough. Add water (making sure to include the leftover yeasted water) to the flours. Stir with a wooden spoon until the flours are encorporated. This mixture will be quite sloppy. Cover the bowl with a plate and leave on the counter (out of drafts) overnight.

Mixing on the Day for Baking the Bread

  1. Actual Dough: On the next morning (the day for baking the bread): In a largish bowl, whisk yeast into lukewarm water until the mixture looks creamy.
  2. Stir in all of the above Poolish that should be quite bubbly.
  3. Add the flour and salt and using a wooden spoon, stir until the dough pulls away from the bowl and the flour is pretty much encorporated. Cover with a plate and set aside to sit on the counter for about 10 minutes.
  4. Turn the dough out of the bowl onto an unfloured work surface. Place the scrap dough on top. Wash and dry the bowl. This prepares the rising bowl AND gets your hands clean.
  5. Without adding any extra flour, knead the doughs until silky and the scrap dough is fully encorporated into the rest of the dough (5 to 10 minutes). Once again, let your dough scraper (a spatula works) be your friend when the dough is sticking to the board. Keep scraping up any dough that is on the board and adding it back into the actual dough so the board is always clear.
  6. Put the kneaded dough into the clean mixing bowl. Cover with a plate and allow to rise in a no-draught area (warm room temperature) for 20 minutes.
  7. After 20 minutes has passed, with the back of your hand against the inside of the bowl, slip your fingers down the side of the bowl to the bottom and gently scoop the bottom of the dough up and around to the top. Turn the bowl a quarter turn and repeat. Do this maneuvre 4 times in all (try not to disturb any bubbles too much). Cover and allow to rise in a no-draft area (warm room temperature) for 20 minutes. Repeat this step three times in all. (This step is done at 20 minutes, 40 minutes, 60 minutes after the first kneading.) After the final time, cover and allow to rise at room temperature until it has doubled. A good way to tell if the dough has doubled is to wet your finger and poke a hole in the top of the dough. If the hole fills up, it hasn’t risen enough. If there is a whoosh of air and the dough deflates a little, it has risen too much. If the hole stays in exactly the same configuration and the dough remains otherwise intact, it is ju-u-st right.
  8. When the dough has doubled, it’s ready to shape.


4.) Yeast and Water: Field calls for active dry yeast; Glezer calls for instant yeast. There’s nothing wrong with instant yeast; we just don’t happen to have any on hand. I use active dry instead. And a LOT less than either Field or Glezer suggested. N.B. Under no circumstances do I ever use water from the hot water tap. Water from the hot water tap sits festering in the hot water tank, leaching copper, lead, zinc, solder, etc. etc from the tank walls… the higher temperature causes faster corrosion. Of course, saying that it is unsafe to use water from the hot water tap might be an urban myth, but why tempt fate? I heat the water in our kettle.

5.) Kosher Salt: Like SAVEUR Magazine, we use “Diamond Crystal” Brand. I’ve raved about the problems of measuring salt before…. 1 tbsp. kosher salt (we use Diamond Crystal brand) weighs approximately 1/3 of an ounce [approximately 9.5gm]. -SAVEUR Magazine, re: Lane Cake in the BBQ Nation issue, SAVEUR Magazine (facebook) page

But I LIKE warm bread right out of the oven: If you wish to reheat leftover fougasse, put them on the top shelf of the hot barbecue for a few minutes. OR… turn the oven to 500F for 5 minutes or so. Turn the oven OFF. Put the fougasse in the hot oven for ten minutes.

I haven’t yet made Rose Levy Beranbaum’s fougasse (remind us to get some walnuts!) And I really must try Susan’s Gorgonzola Fougasse With Figs and Pecans (remind me to get figs at the same time as we get the walnuts!). But I have made fougasse with poppy seeds to go with grilled salmon.

Yes. We love fougasse so much that we can’t stop making it! I’m thinking that once you start making it, you won’t be able to stop either.

Bread Baking Babes
Bread Baking Babes: Fougasse

I am very pleased to be the host of October 2011’s Bread Baking Babes’ task. Here is what I wrote to the BBBabes:

So far I’ve made fougasse using focaccia dough or baguette dough; plain with oil drizzled on before; plain with no oil drizzled on until just after baking; with poppy seeds added to the dough; with black olives; plain drizzled afterwards with oil infused mushrooms.

All were a little different but all were equally delicious. Of course, I’m hoping that you too neeeeeeed to make fougasse and will now bake along with us.

To receive a Baking Buddy Badge to display on your site: bake fougasse in the next couple of weeks and post about it (we love to see how your bread turned out AND hear what you think about it) before the 29 October 2011.

Here’s how to let us know:



  • leave a comment on this post that you have baked the bread, leaving a link back to your post.

If you don’t have a blog, no problem; we still want to see and hear about your bread! Please email me with the details so your fougasse can be included in the roundup.

Please take a look at the other Babes’ results:

For complete details about this month’s recipe, the BBB and how to become a BBB, please read:


Yeastspotting - every Friday ( image)

Each week, Susan (Wild Yeast) compiles a list of many bread-specific recipes from across the web. For complete details on how to be included in the YeastSpotting round up, please read the following:


World Bread Day / World Food Day
World Bread Day 2011World Food Day: Food prices - from crisis to stability ( Please note that today is also World Bread Day and World Food Day. World Bread Day is an annual event set to coincide with World Food Day, where participants are invited to bake bread and share it. World Food Day is a yearly event put together by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) to raise awareness and funds to feed the world’s chronically hungry.

For more about World Food Day and World Bread Day 2011, please read the following:


This post is partially mirrored on The Fresh Loaf


poppy seed fougasse


In ancient Rome, panis focacius was a flat bread baked in the ashes of the hearth (focus in Latin). This became a diverse range of breads that include “focaccia” in Italian cuisine, “hogaza” in Spain, “fogassa” in Catalonia, “fugassa” in Ligurian, “pogača” in the Balkans, “fougasse” in Provence, “fouaisse” or “foisse” in Burgundy. The French versions are more likely to have additions in the form of olives, cheese, anchovies etc, which may be regarded as a primitive form of pizza without the tomato. There is also in Portugal the “fogaça“, a sweet bread.

Fougasse was traditionally used to assess the temperature of a wood fired oven. The time it would take to bake gives an idea of the oven temperature and whether the rest of the bread can be loaded.

Wikipedia: Fougasse


edit 31 October 2011: Please take a look at more beautiful fougasses: October 2011 BBBuddy roundup

8 responses to “fougasse IS different from focaccia! (BBB October 2011)

  1. Baking Soda

    Good morning to you lovely fougasses! Looking really nice Elizabeth. I’m happy to tell you that my fougasse is eh still just a thought soon to be transferred into something real. Which is an awkward way of telling you I’m laaate! Again.
    Starting the dough now. No really!

  2. Astrid

    LOL Karen, you are hilarious! xoxo

    Elizabeth I loved that fougasse, you are totally right it’s not at all like focaccia tho it’s made of the same dough. Very interesting indeed!

  3. Elle

    Beautiful challenge Elizabeth and my hat is off to you for making the baking of fougasse in a barbecue work! Lovely breads. Thank you for choosing fougasse this month…it was fun and delicious. My post is just up…off to breakfast with friends soon.

  4. MyKitchenInHalfCups

    Gorgeous shape! I’ve had fougasse with walnuts and yes it was excellent. Now I need to try that.
    LOVE the olive I just made! Really good but then I LOVED the olives going into it.
    So glad to do fougasse again. It’ll be on our evening wine table more often again. Yes, no knife, it’s made for hands.

  5. Kate

    I love flatbread of any type…. Now that I’m back and the weather is cooling and soup is on the menu (and my diet loooong over), bread is looking good! Absolutely it must be torn – knives cut the flavor ;-)

  6. hobby baker

    Even though I’m just this side of late, this was still a fun one. I loved the shaping and was pleasantly surprised at how my untested recipe turned out. Yummy. I’m still picking at it…

    Because of my rotten internet connection this weekend, you were right on time, HB. Don’t you love it when untested recipes work well the first time? Thank you for baking with us! -ejm (October 2011 BBBuddy roundup)


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