A bottle of walnut oil tucked away in my refrigerator inspired a loaf of walnut fougasse. (The oil is ideal for salad dressings and simple marinades, though it develops off flavors when stored at room temperature.) While the French word fougasse is related the Italian focaccia, the bread itself is distinct from the Italian flatbread. Fougasse is shaped into a wide, flattish oval, slashed through its thickness, and stretched slightly to open up like a ladder, in contrast to an even sheet of focaccia. Typically, enrichments like herbs, oil, or olives go atop focaccia; in fougasse, the baker kneads amendments directly into the dough.
Rose Levy Beranbaum’s Bread Bible offers an excellent fougasse recipe, requiring no preferment and using good ol’ all-purpose flour, walnut oil, and coarsely chopped nuts. The oil goes into the dough along with the water and yeast, and a little more is kneaded in after the first rise. Easy to knead, easy to shape, and easy to eat: walnut fougasse is wonderful with blue cheese, green apples, or lightly toasted for breakfast.
For more bread-baking on the web, check out Wild Yeast. I’m always inspired by WY’s incredible stuff (like this almond-stuffed, bread-wrapped, deep-fried whole apricot!)