The Fouace And The Trust

Fouaces and salads

As the annual Dawn Chorus approaches, I remembered a lovely story from years gone by, a story of ornithology, environmental convictions and a rare bread that has now been almost lost. Once the pride of Vannes and its county ( or Department as we call them), I wanted to recreate this recipe from memory. Not an easy task… The action takes place in 1988 I think, I was 14 or 15, wishing to be 16 or 17, like we all once did. I was – since the age of 11- passionate about wildlife and especially ornithology, the study of birds ( please don’t start, I have heard all the jokes about it!)… One day, I got my first telescope, two years after my first pair of binoculars that lasted me nearly 20 years… Life was sweet!

Franckie and his brand new scope

I became really involved with the regional association, campaigners and militants; I wanted to be part of the action, annoying my peers at times, stubborn and determined to make my mark. They didn’t often understand us, young people of the cause who wanted to be heard; they lectured me about diplomacy once, and as I was respectful of my eldest “Masters”, deep inside I thought: ” Bullshit!” …

Birdwatching and campaigning…

I’ve made it to the headlines of our Breton Newspaper a couple of times, to the pride of my Mother who kept all the articles in a neat little folder. She was a hoarder, but a tidy one I guess. ” You never know!” she used to say, “it could come handy sometimes!”. And now we have Google! Sigh… But one day, my prayers for being heard had been answered; I received a letter in the post from the new coordinator. A big Polynesian looking guy named Pascal, as impressive in stature as his passion for people and nature was. G.P in my town of Vannes, specialised in acupuncture. The letter said: ” Dear young member, I have now accepted and taken the position as coordinator for the SEPNB ( Society for the Study and Protection of Nature in Brittany… A bit of a mouthful, point taken, now called ” Bretagne Vivante” aka “Brittany Alive”). I would like to invite you to share your thoughts, Wednesday May 18th […] “. I couldn’t believe it, someone from Management wanted to hear my stories and needs? I was off school that day, took my bicycle, and after listening to a dramatic lecture from my Mother, I headed for town, ten kilometers away from our home in the countryside of Séné….

Vannes and its ramparts

I arrived in Town way too early, the excitement you see, mixed with a bit of anxiety. It was quite unusual to be asked our opinion in those days. Fools! I was starving, locked my bike near the “Eden” cinema and walked towards the old town. I went to a bakery counter on Noé’s Street, and asked for a Fouace. A touch sweet, brioche like, but more savoury. There is a lot of versions in France, ours was like that. From the old French word “Foyer”, or the “fireplace” as it used to be baked under the ashes. ” 3 Francs and twenty centimes” the austere lady said. I went through my jeans’ pockets, once, twice, three times, starting to blush with embarrassment as the ” commerçante” ‘s face was getting more and more stern…

A old fashioned “commerçante” aka food retailer in Vannes

“Listen Madame, I think I will have to leave it, I am short of the 20c…” . Her face changed from dour to empathy, feeling sorry for this awkward teenager who was just a bit hungry. The hidden smile, the raised eyebrows and the wrinkly forehead… She gave me the works! ” It’s ok, you can have it!” she said. I said “what? seriously?”. “You can have it she said, it’s only 20c, you can give the rest to me next time you are in town, you look hungry and tired!”. I gazed at her, deep in her eyes ( I learned that trick from a movie about Nicaragua)  and fumbled about for a bit… ” I will be back tomorrow, I live a good bit out of Town, but I will be back tomorrow!”. She looked at me with a gentle smirk, flat eyes and only one eyebrow up this time. ” alright then, see you tomorrow so”… Not believing my honest promise for one second!

Carbo 1
Centimes now cents…

The following Wednesday, as I had school the day after my promise,  I cycled back to the city. Another 20 kilometers round trip, with my 20 centimes. I parked my bike outside the bakery and walked towards the counter. ” Excuse me Madame, I couldn’t make it last Thursday, but as promised, here is the twenty cents I owe you! Thanks again for your generosity and trust!”. She looked at me baffled, her faith in youth and mankind restored, she euphorically held my hand while wrapping another Fouace. ” There you go kid, this one is on me… You’ll be rich one day you hear? You’ll be rich!”. And that is all that was said after a shared smile. I cycled back home munching on my Fouace and to this day, I wonder what has become of that lovely young man…

Hungry Breton Franckie on Banneg Island… “Birdwatching”…
Morbihan Fouace

You’ll Need:

  • 250 g of Organic “00” flour
  • 10 g of fresh yeast
  • 2 Organic happy eggs
  • 50 g of melted salted butter
  • 5 cl of milk
  • zest of 1/2 an orange
  • 1 extra egg for glazing

How To?

It has been incredibly hard to find the original recipe. I had to write this one from taste and old memories; there are some sweeter versions, but our Breton one was not sweet. The sweetness was brought by the raw milk we used. First, blend the flour, yeast and eggs together. Put the mix in a bowl, add the melted butter and zest 1/2 an orange. Work the dough for ten minutes, add a bit more flour if necessary. Rest the dough for ten hours, a couple of hours at room temperature, the rest in the fridge…

Fouace dough, ready to roll…

The texture is going to be the one of a savoury brioche if you will; roll the dough, but keep a descent thickness as you don’t want the Fouaces to be too thin… Use a “ring”, 10-15 cm wide ( it could be a bowl, a plastic container…)…

Fouace rings

Make neat little folds, that is my own take on it, as far as I can remember, it only had four. Up to you, this is only for pure visual effect…

Egg washed Fouaces ready for the oven…

Bake at 180/ 200 c for ten minutes or until golden…

Baked Fouaces

Serve with a bit of cheese, salads or Hummus … Whatever rocks your boat!

Breton Fouaces and salads
Fouaces and salads

Keep Well and Eat Happy

Slán Tamall



23 thoughts on “The Fouace And The Trust

  1. Great story my friend. It’s funny how these seemingly small interactions shape the people we become. The gouache looks pretty delightful too!

    1. Yes, not sure where the Rally cars came from, as I don’t recall being a fan ( even if Scandinavian Ari Vatanen was quite the guy then). I think my Dad got a load of free posters, if I can remember. The best one I ordered from Paris was a huge map of the Moon, which made my friends laugh as in:” Hey, how often do you go there??” Hahah 😀 Thanks for visiting!

      1. BTW. the shape of the fouaces are quite similar to the ‘pattern pies’ people in Castlegregory, Co.Kerry make for pattern pie* day. Only the shape though….. It seems every family has its own tradition in making them.
        * mutton pies cooked in broth or soup (not to everybody’s taste nor liking)

  2. BTW. the shape of the fouaces are quite similar to the ‘pattern pies’ people in Castlegregory, Co.Kerry make for pattern pie* day. Only the shape though….. It seems every family has its own tradition in making them.
    * mutton pies cooked in broth or soup (not to everybody’s taste nor liking)

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