Fouace Nantaise, or Nantes Fougasse, is a flower shaped loaf with six petals, meant to represent a star. It was developed in the mid nineteenth century in a village near Nantes, which is along the Loire River in France. It is recommended that it be served with Muscadet, an acidic and citrusy wine from the same region.
Nantes was originally part of Brittany, a region in France with a Celtic heritage. In fact, this is not the first bread I’ve made with a Bretagne history (If you haven’t tried it yet, you must make this Kouign Amann… it’s so good!).
I made this brioche two ways. “Why?” you ask! Because I am making this bread along with my Bread Baking Babes friends, and sometimes we get a little rebellious. You see, the Bread Baking Babes are a small group of bread bakers who get together to make one recipe per month, introduced to us by our host kitchen. No matter the recipe, we all like to add our own spin. This is a good thing, because if you click on all of the links at the end of this post, you’ll get recipes for various versions of this bread, and get to combine them all to make it your own….. especially if you are a bread geek.
Elizabeth from Blog from OUR Kitchen introduced the group to this wonderful bread from Jamie of Life’s a Feast, but as is Elizabeth’s wont, much customization (and “healthification”) ensued.
The original recipe from Jamie includes white flour, rum, and orange flower water. Elizabeth adapted the recipe by adding whole wheat flour, wheat germ, and switching out the rum for orange liqueur such as Grand Marnier or Cointreau. She also suggested adding some orange zest to the dough.
While Jamie’s recipe includes a preferment and then a single rise of the final dough, Elizabeth’s adaptation included two complete rises, including the alcohol in the first rise. Of course I had to try this recipe two ways!
My observations on the whole wheat recipe:
This is a wonderful recipe with lots of whole wheat flavor. Unfortunately, in my case, the whole wheat masks the orange flavor, which, for me, was undetectable even though I included orange zest, orange oil, orange liqueur, and orange flower water. Orange juice is often used to mask the flavor of whole wheat in bread, so this may have something to do with this.
My observations on the original recipe:
Jaime, the creator if this recipe, lived for several years in Nantes. This is one of her signature breads to illustrate the foods of the region.
Like most enriched breads, both breads are best on the day that they are made, and become stale very quickly. Be sure to freeze any leftovers very quickly… or make bread pudding right away. This bread is excellent for Pain Perdu (French Toast) too.
I used SAF Gold Instant Yeast for both recipes. It’s formulated for doughs high in sugar. You can also use any instant or active dry yeast. I also halved the original recipe from Jamie.
One more thing… I used my stand mixer for both recipes. While the original recipes call for hand kneading, I found it much easier to achieve a smooth dough without adding too much flour by using my stand mixer. I would have been too tempted to add more flour to get rid of the stickiness.
Thank you to Elizabeth for introducing me to this amazing bread, and thank you to Jamie for her inspiration!
After the recipes, check out how the rest of the Bread Baking Babes fared with Fouace Nantaise.
- 50 g salted butter
- 60 g milk
- 3 g SAF Gold yeast, instant yeast, or active dry yeast
- 2 room temperature eggs, lightly beaten
- 45 grams orange liqueur such as Grand Marnier or Cointreau, 7 grams (1 1/2 tsp) orange blossom water, plus 1/8 tsp orange oil (optional)
- 50 grams whole wheat flour and 185 grams all purpose flour
- 15 grams wheat germ
- 25 grams (2 T) sugar
- 4 grams (about 1/2 teaspoon) fine sea salt
- zest of one orange (optional)
- Milk or cream to wash the loaf before baking
- Melt the butter in a microwave safe container. Set aside.
- Bring the milk to about 95 to 100 degrees F by microwaving for about 20 to 30 seconds. Add the butter to the milk and stir. Pour them into the bowl of a stand mixer, add the yeast, and whisk.
- Whisk in the eggs, orange liqueur, orange blossom water, and orange oil. Add in the flours, wheat germ, sugar, salt, and orange zest.
- Stir the mixture with a dough whisk or large spoon until the flour has been absorbed.
- Using the dough hook, knead the dough until it is smooth, adding more flour to develop a smooth dough. Be careful not to add too much dough. I kneaded my dough for about 10 minutes.
- Place the dough into an oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let rise until doubled, about 2 hours or so.
- Line a quarter or half sheet baking pan with parchment. Divide the dough into 7 equal pieces and form each into a ball. Arrange the pieces into a 6-petal flower with one piece in the middle and 6 pieces surrounding the center (I accidentally make mine with only 5 “petals”). Cover with oiled plastic wrap, and let rise until puffy, about 1 1/2 to 2 hours.
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Bake the bread for 25 to 30 minutes. Tent with foil if the bread gets too dark. The interior temperature should be around 190 to 195 degrees F.
- Cool the finished loaf on a wire rack. This bread is best the day it is made. Serve with butter and jam.
- 250 grams unbleached all purpose flour, divided, plus more for kneading
- 1 1/8 teaspoon (8 grams) yeast (I used SAF Gold, but any instant or active dry yeast will work)
- 1/4 cup milk, 95 to 100 degrees F.
- 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 25 grams (1/8 cup) granulated sugar
- 50 grams (3 1/2 tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
- 1 1/2 ounces (45 ml) rum
- 1 1/2 teaspoons orange flower water
- 1/8 teaspoon orange oil (optional) or the zest of an orange
- 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
- Milk or cream for brushing the bread before baking
- Place 62 grams of the flour in a small bowl, add the yeast, and 1/2 teaspoon of the sugar. Whisk together.
- Add the milk and stir until all of the dry ingredients are incorporated. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside in a warm spot until doubled, about 30 to 60 minutes.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, add the rest of the flour, the salt, the butter, the rum, the orange water, the orange zest or orange oil, and the eggs. Stir to moisten the dry ingredients with the paddle attachment. Switch to the dough hook and knead on medium high, adding more flour as needed, until you have a smooth but slightly sticky dough, about 8 to 10 minutes. The final dough should still be sticky but okay to handle with floured hands. You can also hand knead.
- Divide the dough into 7 equal pieces. Shape each into a ball and arrange them like a flower on a parchment lined baking sheet. Don’t worry if the “petals” don’t touch each other. They will after rising/baking.
- Cover the shaped dough with oiled plastic wrap and let rise until puffy, about 90 minutes to 2 hours. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
- When the loaf is ready to bake, brush lightly with milk or cream, and bake for 25 to 30 minutes. Tent with foil if it starts to get too brown.
See how the rest of the Bread Baking Babes fared with this bread: