Although Christmas is still three months away, I couldn’t help but start to think of what I was going to make for the holiday season. Aside from traditionally making cookies I wanted to make something special that very few people outside of France have ever tried before. Gibassier originates from Lourmarin, France and is a soft enriched bread flavored with anise seed, orange blossom water and olive oil (traditional Provençal flavors). And, in France this bread is one of the Thirteen Desserts of Christmas in Provence (Les Treize Desserts de Noël).
I’ve seen quite a few variations of this bread ranging from a cookie or biscuit type, a very soft enriched type to a chewier version similar to challah. My favorite and the recipe below is of the soft, fluffy flavorful one. One thing that you need to keep in mind is the use of Orange Blossom Water. This very fragrant water can easily over-power the bread and make it inedible. Please be very careful when scaling this ingredient. If you have an aversion to the stuff and wanted to make a more grown-up, less traditional version you could easily substitute some high quality Grand Marnier or Cointreau and increase the orange zest by fifty percent.
Le Gibassier de Lourmarin
- 145 grams Bread Flour
- 75 grams Whole Milk
- 25 grams Whole Egg
- 0.25 grams Instant Yeast
- Combine the above ingredients into a smooth, homogeneous mixture without developing too much gluten.
- Place into an oiled container and turn over to slightly coat the top with oil to minimize a crust from forming.
- Cover tightly but allow room in the container for growth of 100%. Leave at room temperature overnight.
- 536 grams Bread Flour
- 175 grams Whole Egg
- 134 grams Granulated Sugar
- 10 grams Table Salt
- 26 grams Instant Yeast
- 100 grams Butter
- 88 grams Olive Oil
- 25 grams Orange Blossom Water
- 50 grams Water
- 8 grams Anise Seed
- 100 grams Candied Orange Peel
- 50 grams Orange Zest
- 245 grams Preferment (See Above)
- Pour liquids, then preferment into a mixer. Add dry ingredients except candied fruit and anise seed. Incorporate all slowly for about 4 minutes, mix for 2 minutes more briskly, then slowly add softened butter.
- When a nice dough window can be formed, add the candied fruit, orange zest and anise seed. Place rounded dough into oiled bowl, cover so no crust forms, and ferment for 1.5-2 hours.
- Scale into 100g increments, bench rest for 20 minutes.
- Shape into desired shape and press flat. Cut appropriate design into them, place on parchment-lined pan and proof for approximately 1.5 hours. Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit until golden brown, about 10-12 minutes. Brush with melted butter and toss in granulated sugar, let cool, and enjoy!