As kids, our family Christmas tradition included a morning of Ray Conniff, hot cocoa and Sister S’s home-baked pastries. As we grew into adults, parents needing more care and family members moving away to begin their own traditions, homemade pastries had given way to purchased Viktor Benes Danishes, and our hot cocoa into mochas.
Last year, Sister S and I escaped the holidays by traveling to Portland. We spent our time devouring the city’s famous foodstuffs. During our culinary adventures, I discovered a breakfast bread at Pearl Bakery called gibassier. While I devoured the knots of yeast bread in mere seconds, their sugar-crusted memory lingered with me throughout the year. My first attempt baking them happened soon after our visit – January 3rd – but I quickly realized that making these tasty treats too often would result in the ballooning of my waistline. For the remainder of 2014, gibassier stayed just a memory.
This year, I decided to restart my sister’s Christmas morning pastry tradition by baking my second batch of gibassier. She has proclaimed my Gibassier “better than Pearl Bakery’s,” which is quiet a compliment, indeed.
Gibassier (Makes 18)
Revised and Adapted from Dinner Plate
1 1/4 cup equal parts APF and Bread Flour (180 grams total) [6 ounces]
1/3 cup whole milk (110 grams)
2 pinches from 1 packet granular yeast (Fleishman’s) (10 grams) [2 1/2 teaspoons]
Put in an oiled bowl, cover with oiled plastic wrap, and put in a warm place (can be an oven/toaster oven/convection oven that is cooling from previous cooking) that is just warm and draft free. Let ferment overnight. It does not rise much, if at all.
Remainder of packet granular yeast (Fleishman’s) (10 grams) [2 1/2 teaspoons]
2 Tablespoons water (25 grams) at 107 degrees
2 eggs plus 1 yolk (130 grams)
3 Tablespoons olive oil
1 Tablespoon Orange Flower water
3 cups equal parts APF and Bread Flour (400 grams)
1/2 cup granulated sugar (100 grams) [3 3/4 ounces]
6 Tablespoons butter (70 grams)
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon Anise Seed, toasted and slightly crushed
3/4 cup Candied Orange Peel (70 grams) – it’s worth making your own
Bloom yeast in 2 T. water. All remaining liquids should be about 60 degrees Fahrenheit.
In the bowl of a mixer, add eggs, olive oil and orange water. Mix with paddle attachment. Add starter dough and beat slowly until loose and fairly uniform. Change to dough hook and add flour, sugar, salt, and yeast. Mix for 4 minutes. Add softened butter to dough in 4 stages, incorporating each part before adding more. Mix dough until gluten fully develops, stopping to check every so often–the dough will be smooth, soft, won’t stick to your fingers, and slightly “oily.” When you pull up a piece, it will pull into a “window” rather than breaking. When it is kneaded completely, the texture changes and the dough “moves” on the hook. When you remove the hook, it comes out completely clean.
Remove dough from bowl of mixer, and hand knead in the candied orange peel and anise seed, distributing the flavoring evenly in the dough. Let rise 2 hours in a draft-free place, in an oiled bowl covered with plastic.
Divide dough into 18 parts at about 70 grams each, shape into rounds, and let it rest for 20 minutes covered by a dishcloth.
Shape into semi-circles about 1/2 inch thick (To make shaping easier, I shape them into a circle and then fold them in half, pushing the semi-circle together firmly) .
Line two baking sheets with parchment paper, and cut each semi-circle with three long slashes on the curved side, and then with four short slashes (one in between each of the long ones). Gently spread the “toes” and place on the baking sheets (6 each). Let it proof for 1 1/2 hours, covered with plastic.
Preheat the (convection) oven for 10 minutes to 350 degrees. Bake 12-15 minutes.
1/4 to 1/2 cup granulated sugar (don’t use superfine)
1/2 cup butter (4 ounces)
Clarify 4 ounces of butter (113 grams). When the Gibassiers are golden brown (some parts may be lighter than others), remove to a cooling rack and brush generously with butter (once), and roll in sugar (twice).
I freeze leftovers and rewarm them in a 200 degree oven for 10-12 minutes. Before serving, I give them a final sugar roll.