Gibassier is one of the 13 traditional French Christmas desserts that are traditionally served after Midnight Mass to signify Christ and his 12 apostles at the Last Supper. Gibassier as Pompe à Huile (French olive oil bread) while others insist the two are not the same. The Gibassier is somewhat like an Italian Panettone, and it is believed that it must apparently be torn apart with the hands when served to bring good luck in the New Year.
The Gibassier is a buttery textured French bread that is flavoured with candied orange peel, orange blossom water and aniseed, and topped with a sprinkling of plain or vanilla sugar. GIbassier can be shaped and made as one big round loaf, or larger or smaller single serve breads. Whatever size they come in, they are slashed/ snipped decoratively before they’re baked and this makes them even more irresistible.
Making Gbassier is not very difficult but it takes a little time as the process involves starting with a “Biga” or pre-ferment which is made the previous night of the baking of this bread.
The use of Orange Blossom Water is important as it gives the Gibassier a distinct flavour that is difficult to replicate with any substitute. So leave it out if you can’t find Orange Blossom Water, or maybe try one of the substitutes mentioned in the recipe section of this post.The other important part of this bread is the candied orange peel. You can make it at home or else you can substitute it with chopped dried apricots soaked in some orange juice. After baking the Gibassier, brushing them with clarified butter (ghee)while still warm not only gives them a lovely nutty flavour and taste but also helps the dusted sugar to stick well to the bread.
This is the bread chosen by Aparna for the month of July in the group We Knead to Bake
Gibassier (A French Anise & Orange Flavored Loaf) - Adapted from Ciril Hitz’s Baking Artisan Pastries and Breads -
For the Pre-ferment (Biga):
1 1/2 cups bread flour
1/2 cup milk
1/16 tsp instant yeast
For the Dough:
1/4 cup olive oil
1/8 cup warm water (or orange juice) **
3 1/4 cups bread flour ( self raising flour )
All the pre-ferment/ Biga from above
1/2 cup granulated sugar
3/4 tsp salt
1 3/4 tsp instant yeast
75 gm butter, slightly soft
1 1/2 to 2 tsp anise seeds
1/2 cup chopped candied orange peel ( I used de-hydrated orange slices)
1 tsp orange zest (use 2 tsp if using dried apricot)
For Glazing and Dusting the Gibassier
1/3 cup to 1/2 cup clarified butter (ghee)
Vanilla sugar or castor sugar
For the Pre-ferment (Biga):
This has to be made a night before and left to ferment. (it may take a longer time in winter )
Mix all the ingredients mentioned in the list of Biga. Knead well and add a little more milk if the dough is stiff.
Put it in a greased bowl, cover it and leave it for 14 - 16 hours.
To make the Gibassier dough:
Put the eggs, olive oil and Orange Blossom Water in the processor bowl and run a couple of times to mix well. Then add the warm water and mix. If the water is too hot, the mixture will curdle because of the eggs.
Now add the pre-ferment (tear it up into chunks first so it will mix easily), bread flour, sugar, salt, yeast, and knead until the dough is smooth.
Now remove the dough on the working table and add the butter in chunks (3 or four times) knead until the butter is incorporated into the dough before adding the next chunk.
Knead well until the dough is soft and supple. Add the chopped candied orange (or apricots), aniseed and the zest and knead till incorporated. You may have to add a little flour if needed.
When done, turn the dough out onto your working surface. Divide it into 12 equal portions, shape each into a round and let the dough rest for about 15 to 20 minutes.
Roll each into a roundshape and let the dough rest for about 15 to 20 minutes
Then shape and flatten each round into a semi-circle or oval.
Make three cuts in the semi-circle, one in the centre and two on either side of this cut from the straight edge to the arch of the semi-circle (see photographs), by pushing your implement straight into the dough. Making sure the cuts open up into neat slits. Then using scissors, make 4 snips along the arched side at equal distance.
Take the Gibassier out of the oven and brush them while still hot, with clarified butter/ ghee. Immediately press the brushed side down lightly (or sprinkle with sugar instead) into vanilla sugar or castor sugar. Then let them cool on a rack.
Linking this to Aparna's Event - We Knead to Bake # 19