by Keighley’s Mike Armstrong, an award-winning master baker with a big passion for baking. See

I’M pretty sure you’ll all be good at making bread by now after lockdown.

Flatbreads are some of the easiest yeast breads you can make – the simplicity

of making them will appeal to any baker.

A classic French fougasse is a great one to try out if you’re a newbie to bread making, being a terrific tear-apart bread made with the addition of juicy olives or sun-dried tomatoes that make it deliciously savoury and moist – ideal alongside a summer salad meal or a great addition to any picnic basket.

Fougasse (pronounced foo-gaas) is a flatbread from Provence in the South of France, however its origins date back to ancient Rome.

Panis Focacius was a Roman flatbread which was baked in the ashes of a wood-burning hearth called a focus.

As the bread travelled and adapted to new regions around Europe, Panis Focacius eventually became focaccia in modern Italian.

Fougasse bread is traditionally cut to resemble a leaf or sheath of wheat which gives it a lovely appearance, and the open areas within the bread have a practical purpose to help the loaf bake incredibly quickly.

They also make these distinctive loaves a crust lover’s best friend because they maximise the surface area of the bread that gets crusty and gives way to a spongy, slightly-chewy airy crumb interior. The crusty crackle and crunch is what makes the fougasse very different from its Italian relative focaccia.

Fougasse can be made with lots of other different ingredients added to the dough or toppings – common features include sea salt, olive oil, pepper, olives, sun-dried tomatoes, cheese, herbs and rosemary, which add to its unique design and charm, always being shaped to look like a moreish rustic leaf.

There are no rolling pins, no moulds, no bread tins, you design and shape it right on the baking tray and then simply embrace the natural beauty of whatever design you want to make. But don’t be put off – making fougasse isn’t as hard as you may think.

Yes it looks fancy, but that doesn’t mean it has to be difficult and the shaping is meant to look rustic – so don’t worry if yours doesn’t look perfect.

Do get creative with the toppings and designs and I’m sure you will be happy with the end results, giving Mr Paul Hollywood a run for his money.




500g strong bread flour, plus a little bit extra for dusting

7g sachet fast-action dried yeast

10g salt

350ml warm water

50g olives or sun-dried tomatoes along with a little of their oil



1. Place the flour, salt and yeast into a large mixing bowl and add the warm water to form a soft dough.

2. Work the dough well on a lightly-floured work surface for 10 minutes till it becomes smooth and elastic.

3. Return the dough to the bowl, covering it with a tea towel and placing it somewhere warm for an hour.

4. Carefully tip the dough out onto a large floured baking tray and gently spread and tease it into a leaf shape.

5. Cover the tray with a tea towel and allow it to prove again for 15 minutes.

6. Using a sharp knife, slash lengthwise through the centre but not all the way to the ends, then make smaller diagonal cuts on each side of the central one.

7. Gently open up the cuts with your fingers and bake in a preheat oven 220C / fan 200C / Gas Mark 7 for 20-25 minutes or till it sounds hollow when tapped.