My guy wanted to sample a loaf of freshly baked bread I had made earlier in the week. I knew it wouldn’t survive with maximum freshness until Saturday, when I’d see him next, and I was trying to determine the best way to supply him with the baked goodness he craved. Toast with jam? Yawn! French toast? Been there, done that! Then, I remembered bostock.
Oh yes, bostock!
If French toast and a bear claw had a love child, bostock would be the result. This addictive breakfast confection is made by soaking a thick slice of enriched bread, like brioche, in flavorful syrup, slathering it with a generous layer of homemade almond cream paste and finishing it off with crunchy sliced almonds. The pastry is then baked until the almond topping is puffed, golden and crispy. It needs nothing more than a sprinkling of powdered sugar to finish it off. Fancy enough for a brunch gathering, this tasty treat first appeared in Europe as a way for bakers to use up day-old brioche bread but became such a beloved treat that bakers had to start baking more brioche just to keep up with the demand. I’ve seen some bakers sandwich a layer of jam between the syrup and almond paste to gild the lily, but I prefer the simplicity of the original.
It may seem like a lot of work for a busy weekend morning, but it’s actually simple to prepare. The syrup and almond cream paste can be made the day before. Then, in the morning, just slather the bread with the syrup and almond cream while the oven heats up, sprinkle with almonds, bake for about 20 minutes while you have your first cup of coffee (or some morning canoodling) and they’re ready. Breakfast is served!
The REAL French toast. Crispy almond cream paste topped pastries flavored with orange flower syrup.
Orange Flower Syrup
½ cup water
¼ cup sugar
1 Tablespoon orange flower water
1 teaspoon orange zest
Almond Cream Paste
½ cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup almond flour a.k.a. almond meal, toasted until fragrant
¾ cup powdered sugar
1 large egg
¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
¼ teaspoon almond extract
6 slices brioche, challah or other enriched bread, sliced 1” thick
¼ cup sliced almonds
Powdered sugar, for dusting
Make Syrup: Heat water and sugar in a small saucepan until sugar has dissolved. Turn off heat and add orange flower water and zest. Set aside.
Make Almond Cream Paste: In a medium bowl, stir butter, toasted almond flour, powdered sugar, and salt together until well combined. Add egg and extracts and blend well.
Make Bostock: Preheat oven to 350⁰ F. Brush both sides of brioche slices well with orange flower syrup. Liberally spread tops of slices with 3-4 tablespoons of almond cream paste and sprinkle with sliced almonds. Place bostock on lined sheet pan and bake 18-22 minutes until tops are golden and almond cream is slightly puffy. Dust with powdered sugar and serve warm.
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
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
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.
Yes, I’ll admit it – I’m a bit of an Anglophile. And, with the holidays just around the corner, I don’t simply dream of a white Christmas, but a Dickensian one. I imagine a holiday with Victorian carolers strolling snow-covered cobbled streets, a cozy Cotswold cottage lit with candles and scented with crackling roast goose and steamy figgy pudding, pulling Christmas crackers with family and friends around the table, and nibbling treats like these very British Eccles cakes.
The Eccles cake may have been created about 20 years before Dickens was even born, yet these are just the type of sweetmeat I imagine gracing Mr. Fezziwig’s overladen Christmas Eve party table.
An Eccles cake is a small, heavily spiced pastry filled with currants and candied orange peel wrapped in a flaky (rough puff) pastry. The origins can be traced to the town of Eccles, formerly within the Lancashire boundary, but now a suburb of Manchester. Weights are in grams, nodding to their British origin.
Stir together all filling ingredients in a small bowl. Microwave for 45 seconds to 1 minute until butter is melted. Cover and set aside for the flavors to meld and currants to soften. Refrigerate. Once cold, the filling should bind together without extra liquid. Drain if necessary.
Pulse flour, salt and butter in a food processor until butter pieces are pea-sized. Gradually pulse in about 100-125ml cold water until mixture comes together into a dough. Do not overwork.
Roll out the pastry on a lightly floured surface into a rectangle three times as long as it is wide. Fold the top third down into the middle, then the bottom third up over the top, then rotate the pastry 90 degrees so the fold is now vertical. Roll out again and repeat then wrap in cling-wrap and chill for 20 minutes. Repeat the rolling, folding, rotating, rolling and folding one more time. Chill for an hour.
Roll the pastry out on a lightly floured work surface a little thicker than 1/8th of an inch, then cut out rounds about 3 ½ inches wide. Put a half-tablespoon of filling in the center of each, then dampen the edges of the circle and bring the edges into the middle, pinching together to seal well. Put on a parchment-lined baking tray smooth side up, and squash slightly until flattened. Repeat with the rest and chill for 20 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 400 F. Remove pastries from refrigerator, brush with egg white and sprinkle with turbinado sugar. Cut three slashes in the top of each and bake for about 20-25 minutes until golden and well-risen. Allow to cool before eating – the filling will be hot.
Did you know that the Pledge of Allegiance wasn’t written until 1892, 100 years after America became a country? It wasn’t the founding fathers who created it; it’s not in the constitution. Did you know this was the original pledge:
“I pledge allegiance to my Flag and the Republic for which it stands, one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”
Notice what’s missing? It’s those two contentious words, “under god,” the source of so much brouhaha these days. Did you know those words weren’t added until 1954? 1954! President Eisenhower encouraged Congress to add those words to help undermine what he thought was a pervasive Communist threat in the US. So when the mandatory-allegiance supporters say, “it’s what the founding fathers wanted,” “it’s what our country stands for,” or “it’s tradition,” they are misinformed.
I believe children should be given the choice of reciting the pledge of allegiance in school. Childhood recitation will not define allegiance to this country as an adult. When you recited the allegiance in school , truly, was there any feeling behind it? As a child, did you understand the words? I recited it for seven years in a hazy half-sleeping monotone. Further, adults (kid’s don’t care) shouldn’t point out or ostracize any child that doesn’t choose to recite it – as long as the student sits or stand respectfully during its recitation. Teaching a child to assert their beliefs, while being respectful of other’s differing beliefs, is a more valuable lesson than daily reciting of a pledge. It’s called Tolerance and it would serve us well now.
Happy Birthday, America!
Stepping off of my soapbox now. This galette is so simple to throw together; it’s perfect for easy entertaining like a backyard bbq. It’s less fussy than a traditional pie, but does just as good of a job highlighting summer’s bounty of stone fruit. Add a dollop of whipped cream or scoop of ice cream and you’re good to go!
Preheating the baking sheet and sprinkling the crust with panko ensures a flaky crust.
3 cups sliced nectarines
2 Tablespoons brown sugar
Zest and juice from ½ small lemon
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
1 ⅓ cup flour
1 Tablespoon sugar
½ teaspoon salt
⅓ cup canola oil
3 Tablespoons whole milk
2 Tablespoons panko breadcrumbs
1 Tablespoon butter, cut into small pieces
1 egg, beaten
1 Tablespoon sugar, preferably turbinado, such as Sugar in the Raw
Preheat a sheet pan in a 375⁰ oven. In a medium bowl, combine nectarines with brown sugar, lemon zest, lemon juice and cinnamon. Toss to coat. Set nectarine mixture aside.
In a medium bowl, combine flour, sugar and salt. Combine oil and milk and gently add to flour mixture. Roll crust between two sheets of parchment paper to about a 10” circle.
Remove top sheet of parchment and sprinkle crust with panko breadcrumbs in a circle, leaving a 1” border. Arrange nectarine slices on crust, overlapping in concentric circles, leaving border. Fold border over nectarines. Dot nectarines with butter.
Beat egg and brush over pastry border. Sprinkle border with turbinardo sugar. Place galette on parchment on preheated sheet pan. Bake at 375⁰ for 40-50 minutes or until crust is golden brown and filling is bubbly. Cool on a wire rack.
Over 20 years ago, a young woman traveled to Sedona and stayed, on recommendation, at Don Hoel’s cabins. They were a cluster of small cabins near Oak Creek, looking a bit tired, but still cozy and homey, each with a kitchen, fireplace and a separate bedroom.
12 years later, she returned to Sedona and the first lodging she considered was Don Hoel’s. She was disappointed to learn she couldn’t reserve a cabin – the owner was selling and the cabins were closed. She stayed just down the road at Junipine, at a place that was neither cozy nor homey. During that trip, she drove past Don Hoel’s and saw the large “For Sale” sign across the closed gates. Even then, she daydreamed about buying it. The place was big – over 20 acres, with 20 cabins and a market. Her thoughts on the matter stayed in the daydream world.
The woman is back again. The place is now renamed, owned by a young couple for the past 5 years . They’ve polished the place up, adding the much needed character, and turned it into a little gem. The woman, who is not so young anymore, is envious. Again, she thinks “I could do that” and this time she doesn’t consider it just a daydream.