Fougasse is a Provençal flatbread somewhat like a focaccia, the Italian flatbread dimpled with little olive oil filled tarns. I started with Maurizio Leo’s recipe in his new, James Beard Award winning book, The Perfect Loaf, but since sourdough is so dependent on your life, your starter, and your location, I branched off in my own direction. I really like my Sourdough Loaf and Chad Robertson says to start flatbread with your favorite bread dough, so that gave me confidence. I tweaked things a bit and arrived at the recipe here. This bread is best the day it is baked. But I do enjoy it split and toasted the next day.
Flatbreads are supposed to be easy, so don’t stress to much about recipe specifics, mine or anyone else’s. It’s all about your dough in your climate rather than exact minutes and grams and rests and timing details. Sourdough is forgiving, go with it and let it be fun…an experiment! The worst that can happen is you’ll have some really good croutons.
I’ve been able to stall bulk ferment with success. My usual pinch is that I have time to mix early in the morning, but then I’m often not available again until early afternoon. Totally ok! Room temperature bulk fermentation takes 3–4 hours for me—to get the dough to a puffier state, a softening of the taught state the dough is in right after mixing—then I shape the “leaf” and let it proof for 1.5–2 hours before baking at 450° for 25 minutes. I suspect an overnight in the refrigerator would be fine, with the added benefit of developing more flavor, but I haven’t tried it yet.
Another thing I haven’t tried yet is using this same dough for focaccia. My plan: after bulk fermentation, spread the dough out into an oiled pan, dimple to the bottom by poking the dough with your fingers, optionally decorate (with olives, halved cherry tomatoes and mozzarella, herbs, that kind of thing) then drizzle a few tablespoons of olive oil on top. Bake 450° 20–25 minutes until top is browned and bottom is crispy.
Sourdough Fougasse (French Flatbread)
makes one leaf-shaped loaf; adapted from Maurizio Leo's Sourdough Fougasse
- 100 grams sourdough starter 100% hydration (one or two days since last feeding, stored in refrigerator ok)
- 250 grams water
- 400 grams all-purpose flour Wheat Montana blue bag, Hayden Flour Mills
- 30 grams whole wheat flour Conservation Grains Wheatsome, Hayden Flour Mills
- 8 grams sea salt or Kosher salt
- 18 grams olive oil
Add starter, water, flours, and salt to mixing bowl. Using dough hook, mix until dough forms around the hook then continue mixing on medium speed for 4 or 5 minutes.
With mixer running on low speed, slowly drizzle in the olive oil and mix until incorporated into the dough. Mix on medium speed for a couple more minutes. Then scrape down sides of bowl with a curved-edge bench scraper or spatula, do one set of stretch-and-folds (pulling dough from bottom of bowl to top, working around the "clock" from noon, to 3:00, to 6, to 9, this series is one set). Cover bowl and let sit in a warm place for the duration of bulk fermentation, 3–4 hours doing 3 additional sets of stretch and folds at 30 minute intervals.
I set my bowl either on the back of my range on on top of the radiator. Another warm spot I learned about last winter when it was 20 below here in Montana, is in the oven with the oven light turned on, no heat.
At the end of bulk fermentation, your dough should be puffier than when you started. If not, let it go 30 minutes to an hour longer. This dough will stay firm, unlike the more jiggly dough for a more hydrated sourdough bread. That's by design, you're going to try to shape a leaf out of this after all.
Fit a piece of parchment to a half-sheet pan (13x8 inches) or use a Silpat liner or liberally olive oil the pan. Form the dough into a triangle-ish shape by pulling, patting, and gently nudging it into shape. Take care not to de-poof the dough too much. I do this directly on the parchment but alternatively, you can roll out on a flat surface lightly dusted with flour then transfer to the parchment.
Using a sharp knife, slash the dough in several places, gently pulling the dough to make your leaf-like design. Transfer the parchment/shaped dough onto the sheet pan with a quick, trusting, slide. Brush top of dough with olive oil, cover with plastic wrap, and let rest in a warm place to proof for 1.5–2 hours.
Preheat oven to 450°F during last 30 minutes of proofing.
Bake fougasse for 20–25 minutes until top is beginning to turn golden brown. Remove from oven and brush with additional olive oil. Best the day it is made but if you do have leftovers, they're great split and toasted for breakfast!