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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Le Gibassier Part 2

Gibassier_compressed

I couldn’t resist.  I had to make them for myself.  The “active” time on the recipe is minimal, but the time needed for rising, resting and proofing made this an all-day affair. Most recipes I found on the internet are some version of the gibassier by Ciril Hitz, with each cook adding her own alternations.  For this initial attempt, I decided on Anne’s recipe at Dinner Plate.  Her goal was to duplicate the gibassier from Pearl Bakery, which was the location of my revelation, so I thought it was a good place to begin.  Rather than reprint it here, you can find her recipe by visiting her site.  This recipe is similar to the others with a few modifications including adding an egg to the pre-ferment, replacing some olive oil with more butter, decreasing the anise seed but adding more candied orange peel and increasing the yeast.

I’m no better than the rest of the chefs out there as I couldn’t leave her version alone either.  I used the candied orange recipe at Chocolate and Zucchini rather than the version at Dinner Plate.  I prefer Clotilde’s version which includes some of the pulp on the final product.  For flour, I substituted higher-gluten bread flour for APF, as was recommended in many of the other recipes.  Also, I wanted pronounced anise flavor, so I increased the anise seed back to the original amount (1.5 t.), toasted the seeds and slightly crushed them.

I must admit that this initial batch turned out pretty damn good.   On the next go, there are two definite changes I’m making.  First, at 100 grams, the finished pastries are just too damn big.  Next time, I’m trying something in the 70-80 gram range.  Second, using the superfine sugar as a coating meant they finished gibassier didn’t have the same sugary, finger-licking crust as Pearl Bakery.  I adore the sandy sugar texture on my teeth as I bite into the bread – and I miss it.   Next time, it’s standard granulated sugar.

Other things I will try on subsequent rounds:

  • Activating the yeast before adding it to the pre-ferment and dough. No one recommends doing this, but this was standard operating procedure in culinary school.
  • Using the olive oil to butter ratio found on other sites. While butter is always best (mmm…butter!), it seems olive oil is the more traditional route.
  • Trying APF flour rather than Bread flour to compare the final texture, although I was very happy with my version. 

The majority of the batch went in the freezer  and out of my immediate reach – my jeans couldn’t take a 100 gram gibassier a day for the next 12 days.  I’m parsing them out – enjoying one half every morning with my coffee.  At this rate, the batch will almost last a month…if my willpower holds steady.

Gibassier, mon amour

It would not be hyperbole to proclaim that we ate (and drank) our way through Portland this holiday season.  Some notable meals included a lovely Christmas Eve dinner at Bar Avignon that began with a perfectly seared foie gras and country pork pate and moved through duck leg confit with cranberry gastrique, cauliflower with pickled raisins and a roasted chicken with hazelnuts, blue cheese, beets and bacon. Our dinner at Imperial was also a high note – hitting the highest with the duck meatballs with prunes and orange gremolata as well as the quail with grilled figs and mint/walnut pesto.  Our dinners at Urban Farmer and Lincoln were forgettable, except for the braised short ribs (Urban Farmer) and pig skin “pasta” with lamb ragout (Lincoln) – both unctuous and satisfying, but the rest of the meal fell flat. 

We somehow managed to make it to Lardo for sandwiches three days straight – and after our second day, we decided to revisit rather than try our luck at Bunk.  Our favorites were the lemony Italian tuna melt with olive tapenade and shaved fennel and the drippy Korean pork shoulder with house kimchi and cilantro.  Both sandwiches deserve a revisit – as well as those spicy, salty, sweet, crispy homemade Korean BBQ potato chips.

As far as beverages go, the infamous Amontillado sherry and tequila eggnog (sounds disgusting, tastes amazing) at Clyde Common fortified us for the chilly Portland evenings.  And, of course, we tried an array of donuts from Blue Star – blueberry/bourbon/basil, marionberry with PB powder, pistachio cheesecake and passion fruit/cocoa nib were some of the favorites we sampled in our assortment of eight flavors. 

Among all of these great tastes, however, the food memory I bring back home with me like a souvenir is the breakfast bread from Pearl Bakery called gibassier (the pronunciation is difficult to come by, but I’ve read it’s zee-bah-see-ay).  After doing some research for a recipe (I cannot live my life without another one – even if I must make them myself!), I realized that I’m not the only one to wax poetic about these humble little treats.  Best consumed with a steaming coffee drink, these yeasty little fists of dough are subtly flavored with olive oil and orange blossom water and studded with candied orange peel and aniseed.  Once they emerge hot from the oven, they are given a bath of clarified butter and coated with superfine sugar giving them a sandy crust worth licking from one’s fingers.  If I could pop one of these in my mouth every day along with my morning cuppa, life would be grand.

Gibassier photo from Shantilly Picnic

photo from Shantilly Picnic