The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Olive fougasse, first time

joyfulbaker's picture

Olive fougasse, first time

I've been wanting to bake a fougasse for a long time and finally did it.  I was baking Hamelman's olive levain and saw that one suggested shaping was as a fougasse.  I saw that he also had a separate fougasse recipe, but I had already created the levain for the first bread.  As I usually do when baking a recipe for the first time, I read at least 2 or 3 other authors, hope to find a photo of the finished product, and then proceed.  (I guess I'm a careful person in general and pretty frugal as well.)  So I realized, from reading others' fougasse recipes, that I had to add olive oil (mentioned in both Baking with Julia and Nancy Silverton's Breads from La Brea Bakery).  So I added 4 TBSP olive oil and also 1/2 tsp. instant yeast to the final dough.  I also reduced slightly the amount of olives, not very significant, but used 7 oz. instead of the 8 oz. in his recipe.  For shaping, I had seen a color photo in Dorie Greenspan's Baking with Julia and used that as a guide.  I was more than satisfied with the results, which yielded 2 large loaves, each weighing about 1 1/2 lbs.  I brought one to my book club dinner, and people couldn't get enough of it.  There's another in my freezer, soon to join me on a visit to friends in the L.A. area.  

Here's my update of Hamelman's recipe for Olive Levain (pp. 178-9):


Bread flour                   1 lb, 12.8 oz

Whole-wheat flour         3.2 oz

Instant yeast                1/2 tsp

Water                          1 lb, 4.2 oz

Salt                             .5 oz

Olives, pitted                7 oz (I used Trader Joe's large Kalamatas, cut in half and, very important, dried very well.)

Olive oil                       4 TBSP extra-virgin

Rosemary needles, minced, about 2 TBSP

TOTAL YIELD:               3 lb, 11.7 oz plus olive oil



Bread flour                   5.8 oz (1 3/8 cups)

Water                          7.2 oz (7/8 cup)

Mature culture (liquid)    14.2 oz



Bread flour                    1 lb, 7 oz (5 1/4 cups)

Whole-wheat flour          3.2 oz (3/4 cup)

Instant yeast                 1/2 tsp

Water                           13 oz (1 5/8 cups)

Salt                              .5 oz (2 1/2 tsp)  

Liquid levain                  13 oz (all less 2 TBSP + 1 tsp)

Olives, pitted                  7 oz (1 1/4 cups, packed) 

Rosemary needles, minced, about 2 TBSP


LIQUID LEVAIN:  Make the final build 12-16 hrs. before the final mix; let stand in a covered container at about 70 deg. F. (mine fermented overnight for about 14 hrs at 60 degrees; it seemed fine).

MIXING:  Add all ingredients to the mixing bowl, except for the olives [and the olive oil--my addition].  In spiral mixer [mine is planetary--K/A Pro 6] mix on first speed for 3 minutes, adjusting hydration as necessary.  Turn the mixer to second speed, drizzling in the olive oil, and mix approximately 3-4 minutes more.  Dough should have moderate gluten development.  Add the olives, distributing them in by hand to keep them from getting smashed and coloring the dough purple (a little bit of purple seems OK).  

BULK FERMENTATION:  2 hours.  (Remember, I have added instant yeast.)

FOLDING:  Fold once after 1 hour or, if the dough seems to need more strength, fold twice at 50-minute intervals.

DIVIDING AND PRESHAPING:  Divide the dough into 1.5-lb. pieces.  Lightly round dough on a floured surface with seams down.  Let dough relax for about 20 minutes.  Shape the dough into an oval shape about 1 1/2-inches thick, using a rolling pin if necessary.

FINAL FERMENTATION:  About 1 1/4 hours at 67 deg. F.  (You should adjust time to your ambient temperature.)

SHAPING AND BAKING:  Preheat oven with stone to 500 deg. F.  Place a pan with about 2 inches of hot water on the rack below the baking rack; it will be steaming by the time you load the dough.  When fougasse has risen, final shaping occurs.  Pick up dough and stretch it gently so it's about half again as long as it was.  Place it on baking sheet without sides or a peel lined with parchment.  Shape it into a long "tombstone" shape, the base about half the length of the height.  Using a pizza wheel or a good-sized paring knife, cut slits as shown in the photo, and cut into the perimeter to suggest a leaf shape, also as below.  Next, widen the slits with your hands, which takes some time, so they won't close up when the loaves go into the oven.  (I have only one oven, so I kept the second loaf, preshaped and covered with a plastic trash bag--puffed up with air inside so it wouldn't stick to the dough--in my garage while the first loaf was being slashed and baked; it was a cool day so the garage was about 55 degrees.)  When done with the cutting, brush top with extra-virgin olive oil and scatter minced rosemary needles or minced herb of choice on top, lightly sticking it on with fingers if necessary.

Steam oven before loading the dough onto the stone and again after it's in the oven (I sprayed with a garden pump sprayer every 2 minutes for the first 10 minutes, covering the window with a towel each time).  After 10 minutes, remove the aluminum pan below the baking rack and turn down the heat to 460 deg. F. (I actually baked with convection setting, which is 435 deg. F.  Either way seems to work fine.)  Check doneness after a total of 35 minutes.  You want a full bake but not overbaking, as the loaf is thin.  Bake for a total of 35-40 minutes, again using your judgment and knowing how your oven bakes.  When done, remove to a cooling rack.  While loaf is still hot, brush again with extra-virgin olive oil.  Enjoy!!


Norman's picture

That looks great, a piece of that with a parmigiano reggiano cheese and a glass of red wine, I'm done!!!


wally's picture

It's such a fun bread and one that is a crowd pleaser.

Nice bake!


saltandserenity's picture

Looks a bit like an oak leaf.   So beautiful.  I would love to tear off a hunk.

joyfulbaker's picture

Norman, Wally, saltandserenity--for your kind words.  This is the first time I have posted a recipe with a picture (that took a lot of experimenting, finally with Picasa, where I could resize it), and it's great to hear the words of appreciation.  One of the ladies in the book group, after I put the bread out, said "Now I want to eat it."  A good reminder that the taste is of the essence!  It really tasted delicious, not too hard, dry or crusty as I had feared (the olive oil really was important).  Parm/reg and red wine--sounds like a great pairing.


AnnaInMD's picture

your fougasse looks so pretty, joyfulbaker !   I just ran into this recipe, which also sounds great.