“REALLY GOOD, dad. Can I have another one?” My daughter shouted her love to me across the breakfast table after her first bite. Not wanting to miss out on the love fest, my son and wife soon added their amens. Such is the way with sweet breakfast fougasse. I am a big fan of Fran Gage, San Francisco writer and baker. Our wedding cake was from her bakery, Fran Gage Pâtisserie Française, which closed in 1995 because of a fire in the building. When it comes to food memories, a piece of that chocolate cake sits on the tip of my fork. I often use recipes from her book, Bread and Chocolate. As I write this, sitting on my bread board is the last remaining wedge of polenta bread, which is from that book. I was thumbing through her salute to American olive oil producers, The New American Olive Oil, when I spotted this fougasse recipe and another one for focaccia with pumpkin seeds and thyme. Any excuse to bake focaccia is a good one and a good reason to use the romesco sauce in the refrigerator that I recently made.
Fran Gage explains that these treats are similar to brioche. Olive oil, instead of butter, is kneaded into the dough. Like a good salesman, jam or marmalade served on the side, closes the deal and guarantees requests for more. When it comes to dessert, I’m at the head of the line. Sugar is the guest of honor and everyone should dress to the nines and join the party. But when it comes to bread, I am a sugar miser and am reluctant to join the conga line. Challah is usually the exception; sugar or honey dances in my dough. In this recipe, I used ¼ cup sugar instead of 1⁄3 cup. Cutting back didn’t deter my family from asking—or were they demanding—that I make these again the next morning.
If you are on the prowl for family love or need to bank some for that rainy day you know will come, these are the way to go. But you don’t need to wait for clouds in the sky. They are just as good on a sunny day.
Sweet Breakfast Fougasses (from The New American Olive Oil)
½ cup (4 ounces) warm water, plus more if needed
2¼ teaspoons active dry yeast
3 extra large eggs at room temperature, beaten with a fork
1 tablespoon (½ ounce) orange blossom water
3 tablespoons (1½ ounces) extra-virgin olive oil
3½ cups (17½ ounces) all-purpose flour
1⁄3 cup (21⁄3 ounces) granulated cane sugar
2 teaspoons salt
2 tablespoons brown sugar for topping
Put the water in a mixing bowl. Sprinkle on the yeast and wait until it dissolves (about 3 minutes).
Add the eggs, orange blossom water, and olive oil.
Stir the flour, sugar, and salt together and add them to the yeast mixture.
Mix until dough comes together, about 2 minutes. It will look rough and shaggy.
Let the dough rest for 20 minutes. Knead until dough forms a ball and is elastic.
Cover the bowl with plastic and let dough rise until doubled (about 3 hours).
Turn the dough onto a lightly floured work surface. Divide it into 8 pieces. Cover with a kitchen towel and let the balls rest for 10 minutes.
Flatten each piece into a 5-inch disk. Make 2 perforating cuts in the dough with a pizza cutter (or sharp knife). Pick up each piece and rap it on the work surface a few times to open the perforations. Transfer the shapes to a baking sheet.
Cover with towels or plastic wrap and leave at room temperature until the dough doubles, about 1½ hours.
Preheat the oven to 350°.
Moisten the shapes with a pastry brush dipped in water. Sprinkle the brown sugar on top.
Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, rotating the pan 180 degrees halfway through the baking time. Fougasses should be puffed and brown, and sound hollow when thumped on bottom.