What to Eat in France: Flat Provençal Bread Cooked in Wood Oven with Anchovy Paste and Rosemary
Fougasse is a traditional flat loaf made in Provence and cooked in woodash. It can be served plain, or with olives, bacon bits, anchovies or cheese. Some even add sugar and spices or jam.
The word fougasse, fougace or fouasse comes from Provençal, but variations have spread all over Europe, and include Italy’s focaccia and Spain’s fougassa. It originally came from the Latin panis focacius, meaning “a flat bread cooked in an oven or over the ashes of a fire.” It was originally eaten plain, but there are endless variations these days. The sweet version can be eaten for breakfast and is usually eaten cold, while the savory version is eaten hot out of the oven.
The ingredients are simple: flour, water, sometimes eggs or milk, and yeast. Even though recipes vary from village to village and region to region, some using baker’s yeast and others baking powder, it is always flat like a pancake, and shaped into the branches, giving it the shape of ears of wheat. It is the shape that makes it distinctive.
See recipe on the next page.
1.1 lb or 5 c. flour
2 packages dried yeast + 1/3 c. warm water
2 T. salt
4/10 c. water
1 c + 2 T. cooking oil
300 g anchovies in oil
3 cloves garlic
1/2 c. olive oil
1 T. rosemary
Large baking sheet
- Several hours before making the dough, soak anchovies in cold water to remove the salt.
- Before using, drain and press out water.
- Place anchovies in a mortar with the garlic cloves. Use pestle to press into a paste, gradually adding olive oil and rosemary, and ending with one squeeze of lemon.
- Activate yeast by putting it in a 1/3 cup of warm water.
- Pour 125 g or 1 1/3 cup of flour onto a pastry mat or marble. Make a well in the middle.
- Pour yeast mixture into the well and mix with fingers until dough is smooth and elastic.
- Place dough in a large mixing bowl and sprinkle the rest of the flour over the dough.
- Work flour into dough, shaping it into a ball.
- Cover with a dish cloth and leave in a dry, warm place at room temperature for about 30 minutes.
- Add salt, water and cooking oil and work dough until it is smooth and supple. Leave it to rest again, under the same conditions, for about one hour.
- Roll dough out on a pastry mat or marble until it is 1/2- to 3/4-inch thick.
- Butter a baking sheet.
- Spread dough on baking sheet and spread it out evenly.
- Generously spread anchoïade on dough. Let it rest at room temperature for 20 minutes.
- Preheat oven to 350° F or 180° C.
- Place fougasse in middle of oven and bake for 20 minutes. Keep an eye on it. It should remain soft like bread, not crispy.
- Serve cold for apéritif or hot as a light meal with tomatoes, olives, mozzarella and capers, or with a green salad.
Note: Fougasse can keep overnight. Sprinkle it with a little olive oil to avoid it drying out.
I grew up on Wendell Berry and food straight from a backyard Kentucky garden. I live in France and Switzerland, and am a freelance writer specializing in French cuisine. I attended Le Cordon Bleu and La Varenne cooking schools in Paris and the Académie du Vin, worked for the GaultMillau restaurant guide and CityGuides in France and Paris and for Gannett Company in the U.S., and collaborated on Le tour du monde en 80 pains / Around the World with 80 Breads with Jean-Philippe de Tonnac in France; André Raboud, Sculptures 2002-2009 in Switzerland; Ma Cuisine Méditerranéenne with Christophe Certain in France; At the Table: Food and Family around the World with Ken Albala, and a biography of French chef Pierre Gagnaire. I ran a cooking school in France, and owned a farm-to-table restaurant, The Three Sisters’ Café, with my two sisters in the U.S. I organize the Taste Unlocked bespoke food and wine tasting awareness workshops with James Flewellen, am an active member of Slow Food, and run the food writing website The Rambling Epicure. My work has been published in numerous international publications and I have been interviewed on international public radio in France, Switzerland, and the U.S. I just signed on at In Search of Taste, a British print publication, and am now working on two books, The French and What They Eat and What to Eat in Venice.