Made for sharing, this olive fougasse features a crispy crust and soft, chewy crumb studded with briny olives and aromatic herbes de Provence. This post is sponsored by California Ripe Olives and CA Grown. All opinions are my own. Thank you for supporting the brands that make Beyond Sweet and Savory possible.
Bread evokes a sense of comfort in me. My mom made bread weekly, mixing dough, kneading, proofing, and shaping thin, crusty banh mi with tender crumbs to the fluffiest milk bread. There’s something magical about the alchemy of flour, yeast, salt, and water transforming into loaves of sustenance for our loved ones.
Over the years, homemade bread has become a staple at our house.
After discovering a savory bread called fougasse (pronounced as foo-gaas) at a local French bakery two years ago, I was ready for a new bread challenge. Tinkering for months resulted in a basic fougasse recipe that I rely on often.
From the very simple sea salt fougasse came za’atar fougasse, everything bagel fougasse, and my all time favorite olive fougasse. My kids aren’t too keen on olives but they go crazy for this olive fougasse. My fougasse features a crispy crust and soft, chewy crumb studded with briny California Ripe Olives and aromatic herbes de Provence. Freshly baked, this olive fougasse is perfect for sharing and too irresistible not to tear into.
What is a Fougasse
Fougasse is a yeasted French flat bread from Provence, southern France shaped like a leaf or an ear of a wheat. It is a cousin to the Italian focaccia.
- Flour: use strong bread flour for the olive fougasse. Look for a protein content of around 11-12%. Bread flour is higher in protein than all purpose flour (9–11%). The higher protein content allows gluten development resulting in a bread dough with more stretch and elasticity. Some all purpose flours contain 11% protein needed for this fougasse if you want to use all purpose flour. For a more complex flavor, replace the bread flour with 25% of wheat or spelt flour.
- Yeast: instant dry yeast or active dry yeast works for this recipe but the rise time will take a little longer if you use the latter. Always check the expiration date on your yeast package otherwise the yeast might be old and the dough won’t rise properly.
- Olives: I used canned green California Ripe Olives but you can use black or a mixture of green and black.
- Herbs: I used herbs de Provence for this fougasse which consists of fennel seeds, thyme, rosemary, oregano, marjoram, tarragon, and lavender buds. You can buy this blend at the supermarket in the spice section or make your own. Feel free to use your favorite fresh herbs instead of herbs de Provence.
Canned California Ripe Olives are a pantry staple for our salads, bread, and roasted chicken and olives. California produces over 95% of the olives grown in the US. The olives are grown in California's Central Valley and handled with the most care from the groves to the table by many small family farms.
After being harvested in the fall, the olives are sent to one of two family owned, multi-generational processing plants for curing and canning. When purchasing olives, look for California on the can. October is California Farmer & Farmworker Month so let your local farmers know how much you appreciate the work they put in to grow those beautiful produce.
What is a Poolish
A poolish, also known as a pre-ferment, is a starter used for bread baking, usually made 12-24 hours before baking. It consists of a small amount of water and flour combined with commercial yeast. The yeast ferments the flour and water to create something similar to a sourdough starter which delivers enhanced flavors and improved textures when used in dough. The main difference between a sourdough starter and a poolish stems from the sourdough starter being made with wild yeast and contains lactic acid bacteria which takes much longer (weeks) to use compared to the poolish.
For the poolish,the ratio will always be 1 part water to 1 part flour and a small amount of yeast. To make the poolish, combine the flour, water and yeast, and set aside to rest, covered, overnight. The poolish should look active and alive with small bubbles and have slightly tangy notes of yeasty alcohol.
How to Make the Bread
To make the olive fougasse dough, add water and flour to the poolish, mix until shaggy, cover the bowl, and allow the mixture to rest for 15 minutes.
Transfer the dough to a mixing bowl of a stand mixer with the hook attachment. Add the yeast, salt, and olive oil and knead for 5 minutes until it becomes a shaggy mass. Add the chopped olives and knead for another 3 minutes.
How to Proof the Dough
Transfer the dough to a lightly greased bowl, cover the bowl, set aside in a warm place and let it rise at room temperature for 1 hour or double in size. Gently deflate it and turn it over after 30 minutes.
Where I live the temperature ranges from 80-90 degrees F and only needs about 1 hour to proof. If you live in a colder area, you might need up to 2 hours for the dough to proof.
How to Shape the Dough
With this dough you can make one big olive fougasse or two small ones. I prefer the latter. Gently turn the dough onto a floured surface and divide the dough in half. Pat the dough with your hands into a triangle.
Use a rolling pin and shape the dough into a 12x6-inch triangle and about ¼ inch thick. Transfer the triangle onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
How to Cut the Dough
Use a sharp knife or pizza cutter, make a single slit all the way through the dough lengthwise down the center, stopping about 1 inch from each end. Make 4 diagonal cuts at a 45 degree angle on each side of the central slit. To create a leaf-like appearance, gently open out the cuts with your fingers by stretching holes at least 1-2 inches wide. This will ensure the leaf design is visible after the dough rises and give the bread more surface area to achieve that crispy crust.
The Second Proof
Brush the dough with olive oil, cover with plastic wrap, and allow the fougasse to rise in a warm place for about 45-60 minutes.
How Long to Bake the Bread
Preheat the oven to 425°F. Brush the dough with olive oil and bake for 18-20 minutes until it turns golden brown. Ovens vary, so check after 18 minutes. Remove it from the oven and transfer to a rack to cool. If you’re making a big fougasse, you’ll need to adjust the baking time to 28-30 minutes.
What to Serve Bread With
My boys love the olive fougasse with a generous smear of butter. I love dipping it in olive oil and sea salt, and sometimes balsamic vinegar. Enjoy the olive fougasse with soup or serve it as a part of your appetizer or a cheese board with different cheeses and olives.
Store the olive fougasse, well-wrapped, at room temperature for three days, a week in the refrigerator, or freeze for up to a month. Rewarm in the oven at 350°F for 3-4 minutes.
For more bread inspiration:
- Rye fennel fig soda bread
- Tahini chocolate star bread
- Sweet tahini buns
- Prune chocolate morning buns
- 1 cup bread flour
- ½ cup water
- ¼ teaspoon instant yeast
- 2 ¼ cups bread flour
- ½ cup water
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 ½ teaspoons Diamond crystal kosher salt
- 2 teaspoons instant yeast
- ½ teaspoons herbes de Provence
- ¾ cup olives plus more for serving
- To make the poolish, Combine the flour, water and yeast, and set aside to rest, covered, overnight.
- To make the dough, add water and flour to the poolish, mix until shaggy, cover the bowl, and allow the mixture to rest for 15 minutes.
- Transfer the dough to a mixing bowl of a stand mixer with the hook attachment.
- Add the yeast, salt, olive oil, and herbes de Provence and knead the dough briefly, until it's a shaggy mass, about 5 minutes. Mix in chopped olives and knead for about 3 minutes.
- Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl, cover the bowl, and allow the dough to rise at room temperature for 1 hour, gently deflating it and turning it over after 30 minutes.
- Turn the dough gently on a floured surface. Divide the dough in half. Gently use your hands to shape the dough into a small triangle. Use a rolling pin and shape the dough into a 12" x 6" triangle, about ¼ inch thick. Transfer the dough on a baking sheet lined with parchment.
- Using a sharp knife or pizza cutter, cut a single slit lengthwise down the center, stopping about 1" from each end. Make 4 diagonal cuts at a 45 degree angle on each side of the central slit. To create a leaf-like appearance, gently open out the cuts with your fingers by stretching holes at least 1-2 inches wide.
- Brush dough with olive oil, cover with plastic, and allow it to rise for about 45-60 minutes until the dough puffs up.
- Preheat the oven to 425°F. Remove the plastic wrap. Brush the dough with olive oil and bake for 18-20 minutes until it turns golden brown. Ovens vary, so check after 18 minutes. Remove it from the oven and transfer to a rack to cool.