Gibassier

 

Gibassier

Gibassier

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

Overnight Starter:
1 1/4 cup equal parts APF and Bread Flour (180 grams total) [6 ounces]
1/2 cup whole milk  (110 grams)
2 pinches from 1 packet granular yeast (Fleishman’s) (10 grams) [2 1/2 teaspoons]
1 egg

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.

Dough
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.

Topping
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.

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For Kafka

Kafka

He was no bigger than her hand and just four weeks old, too young to be properly weaned. She chose him for his rambunctiousness – and for his pink nose that was entirely too big for his face and made her smile. She swaddled him in an old towel, flipped him unwillingly on his back and coaxed the bottle between his tiny, razor-sharp kitten teeth. “How could anyone be so heartless as to drown a litter of helpless kittens,” she thought as her new companion settled into slurping the milky formula. She had wanted a kitten for months, but her boyfriend had convinced her to wait until he moved in. Well, that wasn’t going to happen now, but at least she had the kitten – more dependable than any long-distance romance. They would save each other.

R.I.P
Kafka
March 4, 2001 – December 8, 2014

You seemed so happy!

“You seemed so happy!”

“Well, I WAS happy.”

“So why aren’t you dating him anymore?”

“Well…”

I’m having this conversation with my 10-year old niece.  She’s asking me about my Ex.  How do you explain to a child that just because one person is blissfully happy doesn’t mean the other is feeling the same – or even if both people are happy, it still doesn’t mean there’s a happy ending to the story?  How do you break it to them that life’s not a fairy tale?

I have a new guy in my world right now.  We’ve been dating about two months now.  I like him, but sadly, I don’t LIKE him.   Always respectful,  I would never lead him on or toy with him, but I’m also aware of this relationship’s limitations.

Coffee Break

My childhood memories that I show you are usually horrific ones of an abused and scared little girl.  I remembered this contradictory morning and wanted to share it with you.  Not every hour and every minute was bad and perhaps that type of childhood is even more challenging – never knowing where on the spectrum of love and hate a moment is going to land.

It’s Saturday morning, not too early because even as a little kid, I was never a super-early riser.  Perhaps it’s 8 or 9 o’clock.  I’m watching Saturday morning cartoons from my spot  on the floor at the end of the coffee table.  In front of me is a half-finished Libby  juice glass of “coffee” made especially for me by dad – three heaping tablespoons of sugar, probably filling 1/3 of the glass, 1/3 whole milk and the final third of coffee.  Tasting more like dessert than bitter coffee, it’s delicious. Dad is sitting behind me at the dining table, reading the paper with his mug of black coffee in his hand.  The rest of the family is still asleep.  All is well.

No matter who tries to get in my way…

The following is now posted on my refrigerator, reminding me to listen only to those opinions I solicit and to tune out the rest of the chatter.  I hope The Gelato Fiasco doesn’t mind my sharing this story.  You can visit them at www.gelatofiasco.com.

Building The Gelato Fiasco From Scratch

Sure, selling frozen desserts year-round in Maine may sound a little crazy. After all, it is snowing as I write this, and today, like every day, our store will be open for 12 hours. But when we set out to find financing for our authentic gelato company two years ago, we knew that we had a great product. Most gelato in the United States is made from dry mixes – and the taste of these products pales in comparison to gelato made from scratch using Italian methods. Our market research indicated that we found a community that would be supportive.

After obtaining more than $250,000 in bank loans, we were ready to start construction of our store. We had one last meeting – a request for a loan from a local small business development authority. The small request was intended to help with just a few initial expenses. We fit the criteria perfectly.

During the first minutes of our meeting, the committee seemed receptive. But our fate changed when a committee member showed up late. He thought he knew everything (except, apparently, the time).

He had all the answers.

He thought people would take the word “fiasco” in our name literally, and he suggested we tie customers’ tongues with a new name: “A Taste of Italy in Your Hometown.” He didn’t like our late night-hours, even though Brunswick is a college town with students who study late. Perhaps most troubling, he told us to change the focus of the business. Gelato could never stand on its own, and we should focus on panini sandwiches. In addition to making our servers say “ciao” to customers, we should hang sausages and meats in the windows.

We chuckled and politely said “no.” (Perhaps we should have said “ciao” to him!) He had convinced the rest of the committee that he had the answers. No loan.

Two years later, sales consistently rise each month. We’ve established a loyal customer base, and we add wholesale purchasers of our products each week. We credit our success to the quality of our gelato and the values of our company. Customers like our playful image – folks always ask what “The Gelato Fiasco” means – and they make good use of our late-night hours. We make do in the Maine winters by admitting the irony of selling desserts in the snow – all season, customers receive discounts based on the temperature outside. The colder it gets, the more they save.

In short, our company is all about serving an exceptionally great product and doing it well. No matter what – or who – tries to get in our way.