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Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Provencal Olive Fougasse

I love to collect cookbooks and recipes of every kind.

Occasionally, I find a comfortable chair and go through a cookbook with the same excitement as reading a good novel. I also enjoy cook books with lots of pictures, perhaps with the same enthusiasm as a curious child going through a favourite picture book. There's no doubt that a good picture often inspires me to try the recipe.

Even though I own a few hundred cookbooks, when shopping in a book or department store I'm strangely drawn to the cook book aisle.

It is dangerous to shop with my sister as she also seems to gravitate towards the cook book section. I do my best to convince her that she really doesn’t need another cook book to add to her collection but what she doesn’t realize is that I am actually convincing myself of the same.

This morning I was inspired to brows through some of my cook books. After going through four or five (of the thinner ones) I bookmarked at least ten recipes that had the potential of becoming all time favourites.

I recently read in the forward of a cook book (yes I actually read cook book forwards) that you shouldn’t share a recipe that you yourself wouldn’t make. I totally agree so after having given this recipe a try I will definitely make it again and am happy to share the recipe with you!

In the meantime, may I suggest you dust off your own cookbooks and go exploring. You just might come across a good recipe that you will want to share with me!

Provencale Olive Fougasse

I’ve always wanted to bake a French Fougasse which is actually kin to the Italian Foccacia. At least three versions are pending in my “recipes to try out file” but as I was looking through one of the cookbooks I came across an absolutely delicious picture of the Provencal Olive Fougasse. The image totally captured my interest and I could no longer resist!

The ingredients required are few and it’s quite simple to make. When using a recipe for the first time it's always a good idea follow the steps as closely as possible unless something really doesn't look right. If I decide to use the recipe again a few changes are usually in order that in my opinion work better for me.

Instead of Notes, Tips and Suggestions for this recipe I have included thoughts on Next Time… which might help you out the “first time” you try it for yourself.

¼ teaspoon sugar
1¼ cups warm water
2 ½ teaspoons active dry yeast
3 tablespoons olive oil
3 ¼ cup all purpose flour
¾ teaspoons salt
½ cup chopped pitted Black or Calamata olives
  1. In a medium bowl measure out 3 cups flour and stir in salt.
  2. Fill measuring cup with warm water, sugar and yeast and let stand until bubbly.
  3. Make a well in the flour and add the yeast mixture and olive oil.
  4. Stir until a soft dough forms.
  5. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for about 5 minutes using as much of the remaining flour as necessary to prevent sticking.
  6. Cover dough with bowl and let rest 5 minutes.
  7. With hand, flatten dough on a lightly floured surface and sprinkle with chopped olives.
  8. Fold dough over and knead for about 3 minutes until all of the olives are evenly distributed.
  9. Form into a ball and place in an olive oil greased bowl turning once to grease all over.
  10. Cover with a tea towel and let rise in a warm place for about 45 minutes or until doubled.
  11. Punch dough down and turn out onto lightly floured surface and with hands stretch into a 12x8 inch (30x20 cm.) rectangle
  12. Leaving a 1 inch (2.5 cm.) border all around make 2 rows of 4 diagonal slashes.
  13. Cut 1 inch (2.5 cm.) notches into edge of dough in between slashes.
  14. Gently lift onto greased 17x11 inch (45x29 cm.) baking sheet.
  15. Pull slashes open by at least 1 inch.
  16. Cover with tea towel for about 20 minutes.
  17. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. and bake in the center of the oven for 20 minutes or until golden and bread sounds hollow when tapped on bottom.
  18. Yield 1 loaf, 10 servings.

Next Time…

  • I will form the bread right onto the greased sheet since it is flattened with the hands. It was really awkward to form it, make the slashes and then pick it up and transfer it to the baking sheet.
  • The slashes need to be wider and more defined since they tend to close up as the bread rises and bakes
  • I will flatten the dough a little more than the 12x8 inches suggested to make a thinner loaf or consider making 2 smaller loaves.
  • I won’t go looking for a 17x11 inch baking pan and use the largest pan I have that will accommodate the size of the loaf and of course fit into my oven.
  • I will not believe that it makes enough for 10 people.
  • I will increase the salt to 1½ teaspoons. (In my opinion the bread seemed to need a little more salt. After checking a few other bread recipes 1 1/2 teaspoons of salt seemed to be standard for the quantity of flour used.)
  • I will make the bread the day before I want to serve it as it gets wonderfully chewier and the flavour develops considerably by the next day.
  • I will not wait so long before I try a new recipe.


  1. your hungry daughterMarch 17, 2012 at 9:31 AM

    This is a good line "I will not believe that it makes enough for 10 people."

    Once fresh bread makes its way into our kitchen, it doesn't last long (note I said when it makes ITS way into our kitchen, unfortunately not by my own hands).

    As for the note about adding more salt, I am a big fan of fleur de sel as you know. I wouldn't add it in the recipe, but making sprinkling a bit on top will give you the added flavour (and texture) appeal you are looking for. What is so great about this salt is that it has a unique taste that adds another dimension to foods. Pricey, but used sparingly. Might you give it a try?

    Also, I hope there is a slice for me in the freezer.

  2. your (still) hungry daughterMarch 17, 2012 at 9:32 AM

    Also, did you manage to dust off your cookbook that contains the recipe for cream puffs? Just thought I'd check in with that.

  3. That's a good idea about the fleur de sel.
    Same 3/4 teaspoon of salt as in the original recipe and a sprinkling of fleur de sel on top of the bread.
    Guess you've convinced me after such a long time of my resistance to buy some...so we will go out together to get some?

    Just another thought...beware of salty olives which may bring us back to the 3/4 teaspoon of salt. Thanks for the tip/suggestion since there weren't any in this post!

  4. The recipe for cream puffs didn't come from any of my cook books and if it did it sure wouldn't have any dust on it for the number of times I've had to use it!
    Good thing we don't have to dust off blog posts otherwise this one might get buried waiting to be made by those who love them so much.

    P.S. Thanks for commenting. A Blog Spot can sometimes be a very lonely place.

  5. your (still) dreaming daughterMarch 19, 2012 at 5:17 AM

    I don't get what you're saying. Are you maybe suggesting that you should be making me cream puffs MORE often? Hmm, I'm not sure, but let's just go with that. I'm beginning to realize, ignorance IS indeed true bliss.