fouace

a traditional french bread

Fouace is a very old traditional bread, the word originally referred to the oven in which bread has been cooked for centuries, from the Latin word "focus" or hearth. This bread is traditionally shaped into a wreath or an oval and originates from the Albi region, near Toulouse.

As the bread bakes slowly, it spreads out as it rises, giving a very distinctive shape. It is served very hot and, depending on the version, may be topped with white beans, rillettes, salted butter or goat's cheese. But it is simply delicious served hot, spread with butter and your favourite jam. 

Fouace is one of the oldest French breads and is popular throughout France. Every region has its own variation on the theme. Around Aveyron, for example, it is flavoured with orange flower water and studded with prunes or candied fruits.


Ingredients

·         450 gm strong bread flour

·         ¼ tsp salt

·         20 gm fast acting yeast

·         55 gm sugar

·         grated zest and juice of 1 orange

·         boiled water

·         1 tbsp orange flower water

·         150 ml olive oil

·         2 medium eggs

·         50g candied fruits, chopped finely



Method

1.       Sift flour and salt into a bowl and stir in the yeast, sugar and orange zest

2.      Make orange juice up to 300 ml with hot water and orange flower water

3.      Mix in eggs and oil

4.      Add liquid to flour mixture and mix to a soft dough

5.      Turn out onto a floured surface and add candied fruits

6.      Knead dough for 10 minutes until elastic

7.      Place in a lightly oiled bowl

8.      Cover with cling film and leave to rise in a warm place for up to 1½ hours until doubled in size

9.      Turn out and knead dough for a few minutes until smooth

10.   Cut in half and roll out one half into a 20cm circle

11.    Place the round dough onto a greasing baking sheet and make a number of cuts with a sharp knife, radiating from the centre

12.   Pull the dough gently to open the cuts and then cover with cling film

13.   Leave in a warm place to rise for about 30 minutes

Repeat with the remaining dough to make the second loaf

Heat the oven to 200°C (Gas 7)

14.   Bake for 20-30 minutes until risen and golden

15.   Either cool on a wire rack, or eat hot