In the town of Cedarburg, WI, just north of where I live, there is a beautiful French bakery called Boulangerie du Monde. They make artisan breads, traditional French pastries, and gorgeous desserts. On one of my trips through, these plump, sugar-coated pastries caught my eye. I bought two mini-gibassiers, and from the first bite I was hooked. These are traditional Provencal Christmas breads, and I can see why they are a celebration bread. The dough is similar to a brioche, rich with eggs and butter, and flavored with orange flower water, anise seed, and candied orange peel. As a further embellishment, they are brushed with melted butter and coated in granulated sugar while still warm from the oven. So delicious with a cup of coffee or tea, they are the ultimate breakfast treat. You have to start the dough a day ahead (there is a pre-ferment to make), and the shaping of these treats is a little tricky, but they are really worth the effort. Use only the best candied peel you can obtain, but to tell the truth, I was all out, so I substituted a little grated orange zest. I’ll certainly use candied peel in the next batch, which I know I’ll be making soon.
(makes about 12 pastries)
180 grams bread flour
110 grams whole milk
A generous pinch of instant yeast
Combine the ingredients and mix to an even texture. If the mixture seems dry, add a little more milk. You may want to knead the dough a little with your hands. Cover the container with plastic wrap and let stand at room temperature overnight (14 to 16 hours).
2 eggs plus 1 yolk (130 grams)
65 grams olive oil
38 grams orange flower water
25 grams water
About 400 grams bread flour
100 grams granulated sugar
7 grams sea salt
10 grams (2 teaspoons) instant yeast
70 grams unsalted butter, softened
6 grams (1 1/2 teaspoon) anise seed
70 grams (1/2 cup) candied orange peel, cut in a fine 1/4 inch dice
Granulated sugar, for topping
113 grams (1/2 cup) melted butter, for brushing the warm pastries
Combine the eggs, olive oil, orange flower water, and the water in a medium bowl and whisk to blend. Warm to about 60 degreesF (this took about 20 seconds in the microwave). Pour the warmed liquids into the bowl of a stand mixer and add the pre-ferment, the bread flour, granulated sugar, salt, and yeast. Using the dough hook, mix at low speed until the dough comes together. Increase the speed to medium and mix for an additional 4 minutes. Reduce the speed and add the softened butter in small increments, mixing until incorporated completely. Once again, increase the speed and mix the dough until it is smooth and shiny. Add the anise seed and candied orange peel and mix just to combine. Place the dough in an oiled container and allow to rise for 1 1/2 to 2 hours (this will depend on the temperature of your kitchen). Using a scale and bench scraper, divide the dough into 90 or 100 gram portions (I got eleven 100 gram portions). Work each piece of dough into a ball, place on a parchment-lined baking sheet, cover and let rest for 20 minutes. To shape the gibassier, form each ball into a torpedo shape, then press it flat. It should have a crescent shape. Make 3 cuts into the dough, one in the middle and one on each side, then cut into the outer, convex edge of the pastry 4 times. Lift each pastry to a parchment-lined baking sheet, gently stretching open the cut designs.
Cover the pastries with plastic wrap and allow to proof for another hour or so. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Make an egg wash with 1 whole egg and a tablespoon of milk. Brush this mixture gently over the pastries and bake them for about 10 to 12 minutes, until set and lightly golden. While the gibassier bake, melt the 1/2 cup of butter and place the granulated sugar in a shallow bowl. When the pastries are done, remove them from the oven and brush immediately with melted butter on both sides. Transfer to the bowl of sugar and turn the pastry to coat generously. Place on a rack to cool completely.
(from Cyril Hitz and The Fresh Loaf blog)