1) To make the starter: Combine the flour, water and yeast, and set aside to rest, covered, overnight.
2) To make the dough: Combine all of the dough ingredients, including the overnight starter, in the bowl of a stand mixer, or in your bread machine set on the dough cycle.
3) Knead the dough till it's smooth, about 7 minutes using a stand mixer; or let it go through the dough cycle in your bread machine.
4) Place the dough in a lightly greased container, cover it, and allow the dough to rise, at room temperature, for about 1 1/2 hours, till it's just about doubled in bulk. Towards the end of the rising time, place the crumbled blue cheese in the freezer, to firm it up prior to kneading it into the dough.
5) Knead in the walnuts and raisins; then the blue cheese, at the end. This will be a messy process, but just stick with it (literally!), and it'll get done.
6) Shape the dough into a 10" x 12" oval, place it on a lightly greased or parchment-lined baking sheet, and allow it to rise for about 45 minutes, covered.
7) For a simple ladder fougasse, cut three deep diagonal slashes, all the way through the dough, in the center of the loaf, and pull it apart to form a ladder shape. For a "tree" fougasse, cut one vertical slash in the center of the dough; and three diagonal slashes on either side of the vertical slash. Allow it to rise for another 30 to 45 minutes, covered.
8) If desired, brush the crust with 1 large egg white beaten with 1 tablespoon cold water. This will give the loaf a satiny brown crust. Bake the fougasse in a preheated 400°F oven for 20 to 25 minutes, or until it's golden brown. Transfer it to a rack to cool.
Yield: 1 loaf.