An authentically-textured Gluten Free Fougasse (French artisan flat bread) with a traditional ‘holed’ leaf shape. Also dairy free and vegan.
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Developing a recipe for Gluten Free Fougasse
This Gluten Free Fougasse is my latest ‘free from’ tribute to the world of French bread. An absolute treat that looks stunning and tastes fabulous. It’s the bread that I always longingly covet when visiting the South of France and yet never get to eat. But I shall ‘want’ no more… Because this has just become a firm favourite at GFHQ… I make a batch and it’s gone in a sitting… And that tells me it’s worthy of the label ‘great bread’.
There are (as far as I can see) very few recipes for gluten free Fougasse. And even less have a texture that looks anywhere near the traditional wheat-flour version… That is the open and slightly uneven crumb with a delicate chew and a crunch to the crust. But I think I have done it justice.
Developed from the start point of my Gluten Free Baguette Recipe (which is incredible and very French), I’ve tweaked the ingredients (and slightly simplified) for the best Fougasse texture. Little differences in gluten free baking make a huge difference!
And as always… I share my learning and its delicious results with the gluten free community… For FREE! With my love. The BEST Gluten Free Fougasse. Enjoy xx
What is Fougasse?
If you’re wondering what on earth Fougasse is, let me fill in the gap… In short, it’s the French sister of Italian Focaccia (similar to my Gluten Free Focaccia Genovese). But this particular flatbread is perhaps most distinguishable by its shape… Specifically, it is flattened into a broad oval or ‘teardrop’ shape that incorporates elongated holes, giving an almost leaf-like appearance.
Most common in the Provence region of France (but found elsewhere too), it has a definable outer crust that contrasts with a soft, lightly chewy ‘French bread’ crumb. And it can be flavoured with anything from savoury cheese and olives to chocolate and orange.
The recipe shared here for Gluten Free Fougasse is a savoury version (that can be lightly herbed or salted, or with the addition of cheese or olives). But who knows… A sweet version could be planned at some stage.
What ingredients are needed to make Gluten Free Fougasse?
Although Gluten Free Fougasse is pretty straightforward to make, it is important that the list of ingredients are gathered as stated. Where substitutions are possible, I have suggested these in the recipe. But the basic list is as follows…
The dry ingredients:
- Flour Blend – MUST be a balanced mix of both starch and protein-rich gluten free flours. This recipe for Fougasse has only been tested with those listed, so I cannot verify use of alternatives. However, in addition to necessary starches (Tapioca and Potato), there is the option to use a combination of any of the following protein/structural flours: Buckwheat; Sorghum, Oat, Brown Rice, Millet and Quinoa.
- Psyllium Husk – I always use rough ground husk (that I grind at home from whole husks). I do not buy psyllium powder as it is too variable from brand to brand. And if ground too finely, it can significantly impact the texture of the bread. But either way, psyllium cannot be substituted. It is an essential ingredient.
- Salt – for flavouring and to balance the activity of the yeast. Use the amount as stated… No more, no less.
- Dry Active Yeast – the type that is activated before adding to the dough mix. I use this particular yeast because my Gluten Free Fougasse needs a double proof (for the texture required). The yeast I personally use is Allinson’s Dried Active Yeast.
The wet ingredients
- Honey or Maple Syrup – Used to activate the yeast and to give it something to feed off. Natural liquid sugars dissolve more easily and don’t taste as sweet.
- Warm water – It is essential that the water is hand hot (ie around 38 C/100 F). Too cold and the yeast won’t activate. Too hot and the yeast will die.
- Cider Vinegar – The acidity helps to break down the protein and starch in the dough and to support a good rise and tender texture. Other vinegars should work fine, but may impact the flavour of the bread.
- Olive Oil – Supports the retention of moisture as well as offering flavour and a softer texture. While olive oil offers the perfect flavour balance for Fougasse, other mild, light oils can be substituted.
A Gluten Free Fougasse that is safe for Coeliacs and Vegans…
As this recipe is for gluten free Fougasse, it is made with ingredients that are safe for people with Coeliac Disease (Celiac Disease). However, it is also completely dairy free and Vegan (providing Maple Syrup is used rather than honey). How amazing! A Gluten Free Vegan Fougasse 😃.
As always, only use flours that are certified gluten free and be sure to check ingredient labels for any risk from cross-contamination or ‘may contain’ warnings (see my page on Coeliac Disease + Food for more information).
Note that some Coeliacs are unable to tolerate oats due to their containing the protein Avenin. For those affected, use alternative protein/structural flours from the list.
Flavour up your Gluten Free Fougasse… Inspiration and ideas
Just like its Focaccia cousin, your Gluten Free Fougasse can be flavoured with herbs, spices and additions. Try adding:
- Cheese – Specifically a hard, gratable cheese. I have tested the recipe with Le Gruyère. But alternative hard cheeses that melt well into the dough should be fine.
- Herbs – Try oregano, thyme, basil, rosemary, parsley, chives, mixed herbs, Herbes de Provence or any other favourites… either alone or in combination.
- Spices – Add some chilli flakes, a little paprika, black pepper, a hint of cumin, a sprinkle of fennel, or even some garlic or onion granules.
- Flavours of the sea – Whether Sea Salt Flakes or Dulse seasoning, Fougasse is perfectly enhanced by a sprinkle on top of the dough just before baking.
- Olives – A handful chopped and mixed into the dough.
- Sundried Tomato – Also chopped and mixed into the dough.
- Nuts and seeds – Walnuts, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, poppy seeds – mixed in or sprinkled.
- Brushed with Garlic Butter.
What equipment do I need to make Gluten Free Fougasse?
The equipment required for making Gluten Free Fougasse is fairly standard… These are the basics required…
- A set of accurate kitchen scales and measuring spoons for consistent weighing. To measure small amounts when making bread, I would always advise using a set of scales with the capacity for micro measurements.
- Mixing Bowls
- A well-powered electric whisk with a dough hook or a stand mixer with a dough hook.
- Baking Trays and good quality Baking Paper.
- A sharp knife or pizza cutter
Frequently Asked Questions for trouble-shooting Gluten Free Fougasse problems…
Head over to my post for gluten free Baguette for lots of tips on making the basic bread dough, which are just as relevant for Gluten Free Fougasse.
Can I weigh the ingredients in Cups and Spoons?
No. When it comes to gluten free baking, I would NOT ever advise measuring ingredients using Cups and Spoons. They are simply too inaccurate and small weight differences make a massive difference to the result.
I weigh nearly all my ingredients by scale (with the exception of occasional ingredients being measured by spoon where accuracy is less critical). Even liquids, yeast and salt are measured by gram (which is the most accurate option). As some weights are very small, I would therefore recommend investing in a good set of scales with the capacity for micro measurements… Especially if you intend to bake gluten free bread often.
Why does this Gluten Free Fougasse recipe need a double proof?
While I appreciate that some people will be frustrated this recipe involves a double-proof process (where the dough is left to rise and then ‘knocked back’ before being shaped and proofed for baking), it is needed for a reason. And that is texture! Although technically gluten free dough doesn’t require the extra proof (as there is no gluten to ‘develop’), if you want an authentic uneven and open crumb in your Fougasse, then the way to get it is by proofing twice.
Why is my yeast not frothy when activated (or why didn’t my bread rise)?
The recipe specifies using Dried Active Yeast, which needs activating in a little sweetened liquid before adding to the dough mix. This helps to confirm that the yeast is active and will enable the bread to rise.
If your yeast does not froth when left to activate, the water was either too cold for the yeast to activate in the first place, or the yeast is dead. Yeast can die because the water is too hot or because it is too old. Either way, it is essential to test. If you think the water may have been too cold, set the bowl over a mug of steaming water and leave it a little longer. Then if it still doesn’t activate, throw it away and start again.
Can I use psyllium powder instead of ‘ground psyllium husk’?
Technically, psyllium powder and husk do the same job. However, because psyllium powder varies in fineness from brand to brand, it does not perform consistently in baking. Thus, I always advise buying whole psyllium husks and grinding them at home in a blender… Just a few seconds to break the husks into a coarse grind. This allows the best absorption with some control over consistency.
However, if you only have psyllium powder I would advise the following:
- If the powder is coarsely ground, then it is probably fine to use as stated. Test and tweak with a batch or two of Fougasse.
- If the powder looks fine ground, give it a try at about 90% of the weight listed in the recipe.
Why does my Fougasse have a darker crumb than the photos?
The combination of gluten free flours used to make Fougasse will impact both the flavour and colour of the bread. Some flours (such as buckwheat) are simply darker than others. For a lighter-coloured crumb, use a combination of two of millet, quinoa, oat, brown rice or sorghum flours.
Why have the holes I made in the dough before baking disappeared?
When making holes in the Fougasse dough, it is important to make them wide enough that they won’t get ‘filled in’ when the dough rises and expands. This also includes factoring in the extra rise that comes from ‘oven spring’ (the early stage of baking). If they have disappeared, they needed to be larger/wider.
Why is my Gluten Free Fougasse ‘doughy’ in texture?
If your Gluten Free Fougasse has a doughy texture, it is likely to be for one of two reasons. It is either undercooked or over-proofed. Dependent on which you think it might be, either cook for a little longer (covering to prevent over-browning) or use a slightly shorter second rise time. Bear in mind that the speed with which the dough rises will be affected by the climate and humidity of your kitchen. Thus you may need to judge accordingly and by sight rather than time. The Fougasse should be ready for the oven at about two-thirds increased in size.
Why is my Gluten Free Fougasse crunchy?
If your Fougasse is too crunchy, it is either overcooked or the dough was ‘flattened’ too thin.
Because Fougasse is a flatbread, it will take slightly less time to bake and may crisp quicker than expected. The thinner it was to start with, the less baking will be required. Again, you’ll need to judge by sight and ‘instinct’. However, if you are concerned that it may be browning too quickly, simply cover with a layer of foil before the bake is complete. This will help to protect it from the harsh oven heat and to keep moisture in. And perhaps make the fougasse a little ‘fatter’ next time.
How to serve Fougasse
Fougasse is a perfect beauty for the dinner party bread basket and to accompany meals like Green Beans and Tomatoes, Shakshuka or Baked Feta. However, it is also fabulous served with a delicious cheese or charcuterie board, or alongside soups and salads and dips (such as Baba Ganoush, Guacamole, Basil Pesto or Hummus with Caramelised Onion and Turmeric).
For complete simplicity however, my favourite way to eat it is simply dipped in extra virgin olive oil and rich balsamic syrup.
Ready to make Gluten Free Fougasse?
And that’s all there is to tell you. The recipe for my Gluten Free Fougasse is below (scroll a couple of inches further!). Don’t forget to let me know if you make it. Either leave a comment at the bottom, or tag me on social media with your Fougasse photos. You’ll find me on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest.
For lots more bread inspiration, we have a separate Gluten Free Bread Index to make it easy to find what you are looking for. And for everything else, head over to our full Gluten Free Recipe Index and navigate from there…
Other perfect gluten free bread basket recipes on the blog…
Gluten Free Fougasse (French Bread)
- pizza cutter or sharp knife
- small oven-proof dish (or use oven steam function)
- 5 g dried active yeast NOT instant yeast
- 12 g honey or maple syrup
- 80 g hand-warm water at 38 to 39.5 C
- 75 g millet flour or buckwheat flour/fine brown rice flour/sorghum/quinoa flour
- 80 g oat flour or sorghum flour/fine brown rice flour/buckwheat flour
- 90 g tapioca starch
- 20 g potato starch
- 15 g ground psyllium husk not fine powder
- 5 g fine sea salt
- 1 tsp cider vinegar
- 24 g olive oil
- 180 g hand warm water at 38 to 39.5 C
- dried thyme and dried oregano (1 to 2 tsp of each) or alternative herbs of choice
- 40 g Gruyere Cheese (or other hard cheese alternative) – Grated
- a handful of chopped olives or sun dried tomatoes chopped
- sea salt and pepper to sprinkle
- olive oil to drizzle
- In a mixing bowl, weigh the yeast, honey (or maple syrup) and 80g hand-warm water.
- Gently whisk together, to dissolve the yeast and blend.
- Set aside for 10 to 15 minutes to activate and become frothy.
Mix the flour blend
- While the yeast is activating, weigh all the dry ingredients (flours, psyllium, salt and herbs if using) into an airtight container (or separate bowl) and mix well until fully blended.
Making and proofing the dough
- Once the yeast is activated, measure and add the cider vinegar, olive oil and remaining 180g of hand-warm water and whisk together.
- Add the dry flour mix and using an electric whisk with a dough hook, gently beat all the ingredients together until blended. Halfway through mixing, scrape down the sides of the bowl to ensure all ingredients are amalgamated. The dough will be wet and very sticky in appearance.
- Set the bowl aside to hydrate for about 10 minutes and then beat again with the dough hook for a further 5 minutes. The dough should now feel tough and very thick.
- If adding grated cheese or olives knead into the dough (using lightly oiled hands) at this point.
- Scrape down the sides of the bowl and set the dough (in the bowl) aside to proof in a warm place for about 40 to 45 minutes until almost doubled in size.
Knocking back the dough
- Once the first proof is complete, lightly oil a work surface and tip the dough out.
- ‘Knock back’ by gently kneading between lightly oiled hands, until the dough has become a thick and ‘slightly shiny’ consistency.
Shaping, rising and baking the Fougasse
- Line two metal baking sheets with baking paper (so that it is cut to size).
- Split the dough into 2 equal-sized pieces and roll each into a ball.
- Lay the first piece of cut baking paper on the work surface and very lightly oil the surface.
- Take the first dough ball and shape (by pressing onto the baking paper) into a Fougasse shape – Flattened, slightly elongated, fatter at one end and tapering at the other (a teardrop or leaf). The thickness should be about 1½ to 2 cm, but can be thicker (and smaller) as preferred. Try to ensure the edges are the same thickness as the centre.
- Repeat the same process with the other dough ball on the second piece of baking paper.
- Next, using either a pizza cutter or very sharp (lightly oiled) knife, cut two slashes down the central (vertical) line of each Fougasse dough, leaving a gap between in the middle.
- Then cut three to four smaller diagonal lines to each side of the centre. Make sure all the cuts are within the dough border and do not cut to the edge.
- Drop a little oil either in a bowl or on the baking paper (to dip a finger). Then use an oiled finger to push into and open up each slit, starting with the two central lines and working outwards. Gently pull open the slits so that there is a reasonable 'hole' as the dough will rise around it and the hole will become smaller on proofing.
- Carefully transfer the unbaked Fougasse (on the baking paper) onto the baking trays.
- Set aside to rise in a warm place (for about 30 minutes) until risen by about two-thirds. Meanwhile…
- (While the Fougasse are proofing)… Pre-heat the oven to 220 C (425 F/Gas 7), and prepare to steam the oven by placing a heat-proof dish at the bottom and boiling some water in the kettle… OR ready the steam function of the oven (one steam injection (manual) should be enough, dependent on how steamy the oven gets).
- Once the oven is up to temperature, place 60 to 70 ml boiling water into the heat-proof dish at the base of the oven, so that it has a chance to become super-steamy before the bread goes in to bake. OR add an injection of steam to the oven manually.
- Drizzle the Fougasse with a little olive oil (optional) and some sea salt/pepper.
- Place the Fougasse into the steamy oven (leaving the door open for as shorter time as possible) and bake for 20 minutes (at 220 C/425 F/Gas 7). Set a timer.
- After 20 minutes, remove the steam bowl from the base of the oven (if there is any remaining water) and turn the oven down to 190 C (375 F/Gas 5).
- Continue to bake for a further 20 to 30 minutes (approx – dependent on the thickness of the bread), until the Fougasse are golden on the outside and hollow-sounding when tapped. If concerned that the bread is over-browning, cover with foil for the last 10 to 15 minutes of baking. The trays can be swapped round in the oven part way through cooking for an even bake as helpful.
- When baked, remove from the oven and transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
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