Wednesday, January 25, 2012


Photo by shantilly picnic

Welcome to my latest obsession. Gibassier (pronounced zee-bah-see-ay) is a Provencal breakfast bread made with orange blossom water, candied orange and anise.  Sounds delightful, right? It is. I first learned of them about a month ago when my nephew, Josh, wrote to me with such baker enthusiasm saying "....I really think more people should eat this daily!" Before I knew how to pronounce it, I was already hooked. I immediately started my research on Le Gibassier and found out that very few places bake them here in the states. Well, now I do! We've been serving up freshly baked Gibassier to the Williamsburg crowd for the past two weeks and I see no end in sight. If you're lucky enough to live in NYC (or even better, in Brooklyn) stop by Saltie for our newest weekend treat. If you don't live nearby, try making them at home and don't forget to tell me how they turn out!


160 g all-purpose flour
90 g milk, room temperature
20 g egg, room temperature
2 g instant yeast (pinch)

Final Dough
620 g all-purpose flour
23 g instant yeast
11 g kosher salt
all of preferment
120 g light olive oil (not extra virgin)
187 g eggs
77 g water
44 g orange blossom water
155 g sugar, divided
135 g butter, softened
170 g diced candied orange (recipe included below)
16 g toasted anise seed

Egg wash
Clarified butter
Granulated sugar -or- glaze (below)

Glaze (optional)
Confectioners sugar (aka powdered or 10x)
Heavy cream
Orange blossom water

This is a 2-3 day process but I wouldn't let that scare you away. It's relatively simple, it just requires some waiting time in between steps. Totally worth the wait.

Day 1 - Candy oranges and make preferment
Day 2 - Make final dough
Day 3 - Shape, bake and enjoy!

Photo by shantilly picnic
Day 1:  To make the candied orange, you'll need 4-6 oranges (preferable organic), 2 cups of sugar, water, ice, and some more sugar for dusting after they've dried. Use a pairing knife to score around the circumference of the orange twice, making four even segments to easily remove the rind. Make OJ out of the innards and keep it on hand for Gibassier Hot Toddy's (scroll to the bottom for recipe). Next, you'll want to blanch the orange peels a couple times, which will help cut some of the bitterness and also make for a nice finished texture. To blanch, place the orange peels into a pot of boiling water and let sit for a minute. Transfer the peels to an ice bath to stop them from cooking and immediately remove and squeeze out access water. Repeat. After you've squeezed out the orange peels for a second time, slice them into 1/4" strips and set aside. In a small sauce pan, whisk together two cups water and two cups of sugar. Bring the mixture to a boil and add the sliced orange peels. Let simmer until the edges turn translucent, then drain and place the peels on a drying rack to air-dry overnight. The next day, roll your peels in granulated sugar and dice.

Photo by shantilly picnic
Photo by shantilly picnic

Start the preferment 12-24 hours before you plan to make your final dough. I usually make mine at the end of my Thursday shift (3pm-ish) so I can make the dough on Friday morning and bake it off on Saturday. Soak the yeast in room temp milk for 5 minutes. Combine with flour and egg and refrigerate in a covered container overnight. 

Day 2:  Pull your preferment an hour or two before you plan to make the final dough and let sit at room temperature. In a stand mixer, combine flour, yeast, preferment, eggs, water, orange blossom water, and half of the sugar. Mix using the dough hook attachment until incorporated then cover and let rest for 30 minutes. After the rest period add the salt, olive oil, and remaining sugar and mix until incorporated. Then knead in room temp butter with your hands until smooth. Last, add diced candied orange and toasted anise seed (don't skip on toasting the anise- you can toast them in the oven or on the stove- it really brings out a nice nutty flavor). Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled, covered container and let rest for 30 minutes before placing it in the refrigerator to bulk ferment overnight.*

Day 3:  Remove the dough from the refrigerator three hours before you plan to bake (if you are working in a room temperature environment- if your in a hot kitchen, reduce time- freezing kitchen, allow for more time). Turn the dough onto a lightly floured work surface and divide into 16 pieces, about 100g each. Preshape each piece into a ball and let rest 30 minutes. You're now ready to do the final shaping! Roll each ball into little torpedoes and gently flatten each into a half circle shape. Make three small slits inside the half circle (I used a offset spatula) and another four along the outer edge of the circle (I used a bench knife). Lift the dough and open it with a gentle stretch, then transfer it to a parchment lined baking sheet. Sorry if those shaping directions seem confusing- hard to explain but not hard to do. See picture below. And by all means, feel free to get creating with your shaping. You definitely do not have to stick with this traditional technique. After you've completed the shaping, loosely cover the tray with plastic wrap being careful not to press down on the dough. Allow 90-120 minutes for the final rise, they should grow 50% and become airy to the touch when done (if they start to form air pockets, they are over proofing). The final rise time will vary depending on your dough and the temperature of your kitchen. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees for at least 30 minutes.

Photo by shantilly picnic

Lightly brush the dough with egg wash before baking for 8-10 minutes, until very lightly golden.  Remove from oven and place on a drying rack to cool. Immediately brush with clarified butter and either (a) roll them in granulated sugar -or- (b) brush them with a final glaze. I prefer (b), the glaze because while the sugar coating only adds sweetness, my glaze recipe adds a little boozy-orangey kick. Plus, it leaves the dough visible with beautiful specs of orange and anise. If you decide to go with my glaze, prepare it while the dough is on it's final rise. First sift about 2 cups of powdered sugar, then slowly whisk in heavy cream until you have a thick paste, add 1-2 Tbsp bourbon and 1-2 tsp orange blossom water. 

Photo by shantilly picnic

Photo by shantilly picnic

*You can skip the bulk fermenting overnight and move straight to baking on day 2 if you wish. I prefer a slow ferment to develop a more complex flavor, but it's not detrimental to your final product.

Happy baking! And if you get hooked on the amazing orange/anise flavor combo, try Le Gibassier Hot Toddy. It's my new drink of choice during these cold winter nights. 

Le Gibassier Hot Toddy
Serves two

2 cups boiling water 
1 tsp toasted anise seed 
2 star anise pods
4 oz bourbon (or just 1 shot each if you don't want the double)
Juice from one small orange
2 Tbsp honey
1 tsp orange blossom water

I don't mind the whole anise seeds floating around but Steve-o doesn't like it much. If you want more of a refined drink, first boil/simmer the water with anise and star anise, then you can strain out the anise seeds. Just be sure to save the star anise pod for garnish! Add your bourbon, orange juice, orange blossom water, and honey to the anise flavored water and garnish with candied orange and your reserve star anise. These measurements can all be to taste depending on your preference. Sometimes I leave out the honey all together. Cheers!

Photo by shantilly picnic

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  1. Have you tried it for yourself??! It could become an obsession. Just warning you.