Olive Branch Fougasse

© Katherine Stetson

Please review Bread Essentials for valuable tips.

Makes two fougasse.

Dry Ingredients:

  • 3 cups unbleached bread flour
  • 2 teaspoons sea salt
  • 2 ¼ teaspoons active dry yeast

Wet Ingredients:

  • 1.5 cups spring water
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil

Toppings:

  • olive oil
  • sliced Spanish olives
  • dried oregano

Mix the Dough

Combine dry ingredients in a 1 quart bowl and whisk together gently.

Pour the wet ingredients into a 2 quart proofing bowl and warm in the microwave to 100 degrees.

Pour the dry ingredients on top of the wet ingredients in the proofing bowl and stir to combine.  Ensure that all the dry ingredients are incorporated into the dough mass.  Dough will be somewhat stringy and tough, but only a minute or two of mixing is necessary.

Cover the proofing bowl with cello-wrap or a fitted lid.

Proof the Dough

Place the proofing bowl in an 80 degrees, draft-free location with an instant-read thermometer resting on top.  The center of the oven warmed by the interior bulb is ideal.

Check the temperature of the instant-read thermometer periodically to ensure that the temperature does not exceed 90 degrees or dip below 70 degrees.

After two to three hours, the dough will have nearly doubled in volume with a flat and dimpled surface.

Work and Shape the Dough

Liberally flour your counter top and fingertips.  Tip the proofing bowl and gently extract the dough onto the counter.  The dough will be quite sticky.  Keep your fingertips floured as needed.

Smooth the surface of the dough with a little flour and turn it over.

Gently pat the dough into an oblong, approximately 6” by 10”.  Use a bench knife or sharp knife and divide the dough in half.  Cover and let rest for 10 minutes.  Prepare a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Roll, stretch or pat each dough sheet into an oval.  With a sharp knife, cut a slice in the middle (for the trunk) and several diagonal cuts in the sides (for the branches).  Use your fingers to spread the space between cuts and move to the baking sheet.  Cover and let rest for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  After dough has rested, lightly brush with olive oil and top with the sliced olives and a sprinkling of oregano.  Bake for 30-40 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through cooking.

Allow to cool briefly on a rack.

Bake the Bread

Place a baking stone on the center oven rack.  Place a broiler or roasting pan on the lowest rack.  Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.

Using a pastry brush, gently brush the entire surface of the bread with your choice of glaze or wash and sprinkle with seeds or nuts as desired.

Make several decorative slashes across the top of the bread with a very sharp knife.

Slide the dough and its parchment directly onto the baking stone.  Pour one cup of water into the broiler or roasting pan.  Set timer for 15 minutes.

Carefully open the oven door (it’s a steam bath), and rotate the bread 180 degrees.  Set the timer for 15 minutes.

Use oven mitts or potholders and carefully tip the bread onto its top.  Bake for an additional 10-15 minutes until the (exposed) bottom of the bread is browned evenly.

Remove the bread to a cooling rack and let cool for several hours.  When ready to serve, use a serrated knife for slicing.

Overnight Method

This method creates a bread with greater air holes and a hint of sourdough flavor.

Decrease the amount of yeast to ¼ teaspoon.  Increase the proof time to 12-14 hours.

Follow all other instructions as indicated.

Copyright © Katherine Stetson, all rights reserved.