Fougasse d’Aigues Mortes is a sweet and speedy version of the French focaccia, a word which itself derives from the quick flatbread Roman bakers made to check the temperature of their ovens. In Aigues Mortes, a walled medieval town in the southern Gard, this sugared bread, delicately perfumed by orange blossoms, is as celebrated as the Fleur de Sel that’s harvested from the salt flats surrounding it. The following version is more like cake than bread, uses baking powder instead of baker’s yeast. It can be whipped up and on the table in minutes. It will be delicious, but it will not be pretty. It’s made to cut apart and eat immediately, preferably under seasonal fruit.
Fougasse d’Aigues Mortes
410 g/14.5 oz/2 cups granulated sugar, divided
8 cl/2.7 oz/⅓ cup orange blossom water, divided
25 cl/8 oz/1 cup crème fraîche (or sour cream or full-fat Greek yogurt)
320 g/11.25 oz 2 ¾ cups flour
11 g/2 tsp baking powder
120 g/4.2 oz/1 stick + 1 tbsp butter, melted for basting
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
- Spread parchment on a cookie sheet or your oven’s broiling pan. Lightly butter the paper with a pastry brush.
- Set aside 50 g/ ¼ cup of the sugar, 1 tablespoon of orange blossom water, and the melted butter for basting.
- In a large bowl, whisk the eggs, then add in and mix together the rest of ingredients by hand, without overbeating, until you have smooth, dough-like consistency.
- Pour your dough directly onto the cookie sheet. It will spread out on its own; no need to shape it. Place in the center of the oven.
- Bake for approximately 10 minutes, or until the surface of the dough is solid enough to brush.
- Pull the dough from the oven, brush with the melted butter, then sprinkle the reserved sugar evenly all over. With your fingertips, splash some drops of the reserved orange blossom water over the surface of the dough before returning it to the oven.
- Bake for 5-10 minutes more, or until the dough is fully baked all over (a few gentle presses with your finger will reveal this).
- Remove from oven. Serve warm or cold, cut into wedges or squares, with fresh fruit and a dollop of whipped cream or crème fraîche.
Story by Kristin Kovacic/ Photography by Tira Howard/ Styling by Keith Recker/