Green Olive Fougasse

So tots-no-bigs but this is my 300th blog post! I can’t believe it! If you are a regular reader you are probably thinking to yourself she posts a few times a week, it’s been over four years…how can this only be her 300th post? Well I can tell you, I didn’t always post this much. Sometimes I would have a month or two with no posts, but that time is over, and I hope I’m celebrating my 400th post sooner than later.

So what do you make for your 300th post? Anything you would like. Secret number two in exposing myself, this kind of crept up on me and I didn’t plan anything special, but coincidentally, I made something special none the less.

Post number 300 is all about bread, French green olive bread (fougasse). It’s delicious, I totally ate half a loaf in one sitting, no butter, no remorse.

In the search for a perfect fougasse recipe, I  found one on Serious Eats. After doing some research I have= to assume that Dorie Greenspan makes a perfect fougasse because just about everyone highlights her recipe as the one to use to make this rustic flat bread.

The one thing I had a hard time with was that I don’t have a stand mixer, and the reason  I do not have one is because my kitchen is not tiny but my storage space is (very) lacking. Just because you do not have a stand mixer doesn’t mean you can make amazing bread, although it does mean you need to put in a  tiny bit more effort in order to do so. If you are lucky enough to have space for one or at least own a stand mixer, following the instructions linked under the recipe title for Serious Eats may be to your advantage.

I should mention, this recipe takes a few days, not a few days worth of work, just a few days worth of waiting (audible sigh). You will become OK with-it, I promise. After you taste this rich buttery, chewy and soft, salty bread you will start another batch as soon as humanly possible.

Let’s talk ingredients. I used good quality garlic-marinated Sicilian green olives. I know, I know, it’s a French recipe and traditionally fougasse is made with black olives but as the recipe advises that it is closer to a focaccia in texture. I disagree slightly but the mix of fresh rosemary, lemon zest and garlic marinated green olives is to die for, trust me. 

Green Olive Fougasse

adapted from Serious Eats which is adapted from Around My French Table by Dorie Greenspan.

  • 1 2/3 cups plus 2 teaspoons warm water
  • 2 tsp yeast
  • 1 tsp agave nectar
  • 4 tbs olive oil
  • 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/4 tsp coarse sea salt
  • 1 cup whole, good quality green olives, pitted and coarsely chopped
  • 1 tbs fresh rosemary, stemmed and minced
  • 1 tbs of lemon zest
  • coarse sea salt, for sprinkling

Method

In large bowl add yeast, 2/3 cup of warm water and agave syrup. Stir to dissolve and let sit about 5 minutes. The yeast with froth on top and after the waiting period stir in one more cup of the water and 4 tablespoons olive oil.

Using a sturdy wooden spoon, add salt and then flour one cup at a time to the yeast mix. The dough will be soft and sticky, but you will need to use your hand to combine well. Once it’s been kneaded for a few minutes add the olives, rosemary, and lemon zest. I found this made the dough very hard to work with, as it seemed like the addition of wet ingredients separated the dough. Just keep kneading for an additional 2-4 minutes until all if combined. If a few olives pop out of the dough, don’t worry. It needs to rest for a while and will all become incorporated.

Spray a large sheet of plastic wrap with non-stick spray or oil and cover the top of the bread dough. Let rise at a room temperature between 60-120 minutes. If it’s warm leave it for 60 minutes if it’s cooler leave it for two hours.

At the end of the first rise, punch down the dough, recover and leave to rest at least overnight in the fridge. I left mine in there for almost 3 days but I wouldn’t leave it much longer. It will double in size and will be ready to bake when you are.

When you are ready to bake remove the dough from the fridge and divide into two halves. Pre-heat the oven to 450F when you are working with the dough.

At this point the dough should be pretty easy to work with but a tad on the sticky side. You can flour a work surface a roll out each dough half, but I took the lazy way and stretched it with my hands leaving it to rest on parchment paper. My doughs balls ended up being about 9″x11″ each.

I used a sharp knife and tried two different cuts. The bread is supposed to resemble a leaf or a blade of wheat. My first I cut a space for a ‘stem’ running up the middle.

However I prefer the look of the second one which just had six short diagonal cuts, three on each side mirroring the other. Either route you go, you need to use your fingers to try to pull open the spaces in between to give it room to expand.

Cover the dough and let rest for at least 15 minutes before baking. Position the oven rack to be in the middle or on the lower rack.

When dough is ready to bake mix, 1 tablespoon or olive oil with 2 tablespoons of water and brush the outside of each loaf, sprinkle with coarse salt.

Bake bread for 10 minutes, rotate sides in the oven and bake for about 10-15 minutes. The bread should be a light brown and should be served warm with other appetizers.

Let it rest for about 10 minutes until it can be handled without gloves, and serve up with butter or olive oil. Delish!

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