Oh, little-known gibassier, how I adore thee!
I’ll never forget the December 2013 morning when I met my first gibassier (pronounced zee-bah-see-ay) over cappuccinos at Portland’s Pearl Bakery. While I devoured these knots of breakfast bread goodness in mere seconds, their sugar-crusted memory lingered with me long after. Best consumed with a steaming hot drink, these yeasty little fists of dough are subtly flavored with olive oil and orange blossom water and studded with candied orange peel and anise seed. Once they emerge hot from the oven, they are given a bath of clarified butter and coated with granulated sugar, giving them a sandy crust worth licking from one’s finger tips. If I could pop one of these in my mouth every day along with my morning cuppa, life would be grand.
But, alas, my waistline doesn’t allow such indulgences and, with an overnight pre-ferment and almost 4 hours of proofing time, my usually hectic schedule does not either. So, starting in 2014, gibassier has become a special Christmas morning tradition – a crackling fire, Ray Coniff Singers’ “Sleigh Ride”, mugs of not-too-sweet mochas, and a heaping platter of oven-warmed gibassier (as well as a loaf of gratuitous marzipan stollen).
Pure contentment – It’s no wonder we’re always late to the mid-day holiday festivities.
This 2017 version has been slightly adjusted from my original 2014 recipe, which was adapted from Ciril Hitz’s Baking Artisan Pastries & Bread.
- Overnight Starter (Biga)
- 90 grams all-purpose flour
- 90 grams bread flour
- 110 grams whole milk
- 2 pinches from a packet of instant yeast (I use Fleishman’s)
- 1 large egg Dough
- Remainder of packet of instant yeast
- 2 Tablespoons water at 107⁰ F
- 2 large eggs plus 1 yolk
- 3 Tablespoons olive oil
- 2 Tablespoon orange flower water
- 200 grams all-purpose flour
- 200 grams bread flour
- 100 grams granulated sugar
- 85 grams unsalted butter, softened
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 ½ teaspoons anise seed, toasted and slightly crushed
- 90 grams candied orange peel, cut into ¼” dice – it’s worth making your own Topping
- 50 grams granulated sugar (don’t use superfine)
- 113 grams unsalted butter (1 stick)
- Night before baking: Combine overnight starter ingredients in the bowl of a mixer. Combine on low speed until well combined. Put in an oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and put in a warm place (can be on top of an oven that is cooling from previous cooking) draft free place. Let ferment overnight. It will not rise much.
- Day of Baking: Bloom yeast in 2 T. water at 107⁰ F. All remaining liquids (eggs, oil, and orange flower water) should be about 60⁰ F.
- In the bowl of a mixer, combine eggs, olive oil and orange water. Mix with paddle attachment. Add starter dough (Biga) and beat slowly until loose and fairly uniform. Change to dough hook and add flour, sugar, salt, and yeast (don’t let salt and yeast touch). Mix for 4 minutes. Add softened butter to dough in 4 stages, incorporating each before adding more. Mix dough until gluten fully develops – the dough will be smooth and soft. When you pull off a piece, it will pull into a “window” rather than breaking. Add the anise seed and candied orange peel and mix on low until combined. When you remove the hook, it should come out completely clean.
- Place in an oiled bowl, cover with plastic. Let proof 2 hours in a warm, draft-free place.
- Divide dough into 18 parts 65-70 grams each, shape into rounds, and let rest for 20 minutes covered by plastic or a dishcloth.
- Shape into semi-circles about 1/2 inch thick (To make shaping easier, I shape them into a torpedo and then pat them into a semi-circle).
- Line two baking sheets with parchment paper, and cut each semi-circle with three long slashes on the outer edge 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 (8 each). Let proof for 1 1/2 hours in a warm, draft-free place, covered with plastic.
- While gibassier proof, clarify 1 stick of unsalted butter for topping. Set aside. Place oven racks on two top positions. Preheat oven to 375⁰ F. Bake gibassier 12-15 minutes, switching baking sheets half-way through baking. When the gibassiers are golden brown (some parts may be lighter than others), remove to a cooling rack.
- While still warm. brush generously with clarified butter (once), and roll in sugar (twice). I freeze leftovers and rewarm them in a 200⁰ F oven for 10-12 minutes. Before serving, I give them a final sugar roll.
*The traditional way to shape gibassier is with the three long slashes in the middle and the four shorter slashes on the curved edge.