Fouaces, or fouasses, often called fouées (to the west) or fougasses (to the south), are the local Touraine version of pita bread or foccaccia, that is to say, they are a small soft stuffed flat bread. Medieval in origin, they were originally made at either the beginning or the end of a baking session, when the big brick wood fired boulangerie ovens were either heating up or cooling down. If baked at the beginning of a session, they allowed the baker to judge the temperature of the oven. Generally they are cut open and stuffed with rillettes, to be eaten while still warm.
The reknowned gourmande Rabelais (a local boy) describes them as being made from water, egg yolks, saffron and spices (which I guess is why they are available as takeaways at the Foire au Safran in Preuilly). I decided to try my hand at making them, but none of the recipes I found looked terribly authentic, or they were for a sweet version more like brioche. Therefore, I decided to create my own not terribly authentic recipe, as that seemed to be the tradition, with every family having their own variation.
For the Dough
500g flour (I used organic stoneground Type 65 farine de blé from la Ferme des Hauts Bourdiers, Nouans-les-Fontaines)
1 tsp salt
200g refreshed sourdough starter*
For Stuffing Option 1
6 slow roasted tomato halves
3 slices from a goat cheese log, cut into semi-circles (I used Sainte-Maure-de-Touraine, purchased from my mobile laitiere)
(or you can use Délice de tomates from a jar you bought in the supermarket and some cheese)
For Stuffing Option 2
1/2 an aubergine, cut lengthways.
1/2 tsp ras al hanout
(or you can use baba ganoush if you've got some lurking in the fridge you want to use up)
- Put the flour and salt in a mixing bowl and combine.
- Cut the butter into cubes and combine with the flour, using the cake beater attachment of your mixer.
- Add the sourdough starter and beat some more.
- Gradually add the water and beat for 10 minutes on the slowest speed (this is to begin developing the gluten, like kneading does).
- Cover the bowl and leave in the fridge overnight to rise slowly.
- Meanwhile, prepare the aubergine by scoring it in a diaper pattern all over, down to the skin.
- Paint it lightly with oil and roast it in the oven at 200C for 25 minutes.
- When it is soft and cool enough to handle, scrape out the flesh and mix in the spice.
- Tip the dough out onto a floured bench and knead it a bit by hand to knock the air out.
- Divide the dough into 12 lumps and roll them into balls.
- Take each ball and roll it out into an oval 15-20 cm across.
- Put either a piece of tomato and a semi-circle of cheese, or a teaspoon of aubergine puree onto one half of each oval.
- Fold the dough over and press to seal and flatten.
- Heat a heavy frying pan to moderately hot and brush with oil.
- Place a couple of the fouaces in at a time. Cook them for 3-4 minutes each side, until they are just beginning to blacken.
- Serve warm.
*for instructions on how to make a sourdough starter see here. Alternatively, if you have been given a Herman starter, this works perfectly well, and is in fact what I used.
For a recipe that looks a lot like the street food ones I have had stuffed with rillettes, see here (in French). I only found this after making my own rather different, but still practical and tasty, version.