Pompe à l’Huile – Sweet Olive Oil Bread

Pompe à l’Huile Olive Oil Bread

The name pompe à l’huile is an indication of how this Provençal specialty is made: dough pumped full of oil. Might as well be proactive and drown the bread in extra-virgin olive oil ahead of time if you’re going to do it anyway.

Saveur describes it as a cross between a focaccia, because it is shaped into a round flatbread, and a brioche. I can’t see how pompe à l’huile is similar to a brioche, though. Sure, it has high fat content, but there are no milk, eggs, or butter in it.

All overthinking pedantic musings aside, what we have here is a flaky flatbread in a class all its own. I tweaked the original recipe by giving the poolish a 16-hour headstart, instead of 30 minutes, for that extra hint of complexity that can only come from slow fermentation. It’s how bread geeks do.

recipe adapted from Saveur
Bread Baking Day #22: Sweet Breads hosted by Hefe und Mehr
Yeastspotting at Wild Yeast Blog

Pompe à l’Huile
Provençal Sweet Olive Oil Bread

makes one 12-inch flatbread


  • You’ll need exactly one 1/4 ounce / 7 gram sachet of instant yeast. Take a small pinch out for the poolish and reserve the rest for the final dough.
  • Other recipes for pompe à l’huile call for some combination of anise seeds, orange flower water, and orange zest. These additional ingredients are also common in Gibassier, a close sugar-topped relative.

For the Poolish:

unbleached all-purpose flour1 3/4 cups8.0227
water1 cup8.0227
instant yeasta pinch (1/16 tsp)

Poolish Directions:

  1. Pour the water over the yeast and stir to dissolve. Add the flour and mix until thoroughly hydrated.
  2. Cover and and let stand at room temperature for 14 to 16 hours.

For the Final Dough:

all of the poolish
unbleached all-purpose flour2 cups8.8250
granulated sugar1/3 cup + 1 tbsp2.880
instant yeast2 1/4 tsp.257
extra-virgin olive oil3/4 cup5.7162
salt2 tsp0.412

Final Dough Directions:

Mix. In a large bowl, mix together the poolish, flour, sugar and yeast, just until the flour is thoroughly hydrated and a shaggy ball of dough is formed.

Gradually add the olive oil a few tablespoons at a time, mixing to incorporation with each addition.

Knead for 8 to 10 minutes, until the dough is smooth and elastic. It will be very slippery because of the olive oil.

Bulk Ferment. 2 1/2 to 3 hours at room temperature. Begin preheating your oven to 400ºF / 205ºC towards the end of bulk fermentation.

Prepare a half-sheet pan lined with parchment paper.

Pompe à l’Huile Dough

Shape Roll out the dough into a 12-inch circle. Using a knife, cut 5 slits in the center of the flattened dough to resemble a sand dollar (or make up your own pattern). Stretch out the holes using your fingertips to keep them from closing.

Pompe à l’Huile Shaped Dough

Bake for 15 minutes at 400ºF / 205ºC, until well-browned around the edges.

Cool. Transfer to a wire rack and allow to cool completely at room temperature.

Pompe à l’Huile Baked
Sweet, tender, and flaky, kind of like a brioche. Now I get it.

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72 Responses to “Pompe à l’Huile – Sweet Olive Oil Bread”

  1. Leela@SheSimmers says:

    Is this the same as Fougasse? I’ve had the version that’s topped with sugar. Tried to make it once based on a well-known baker’s recipe, but it came out horrible. Perhaps the secret is in giving the poolish 16 hours.

  2. Rosa says:

    What a pretty Pompe! That bread is perfect for the summertime… Lovely!



  3. codfish says:

    A bread soaked in olive oil is something I could get into. :)

    But, I agree, though I’m just looking at the texture, this bread doesn’t seem similar to brioche.

  4. Adam says:

    I think I found a new favorite word… poolish. How many times did you type that and did not laugh? :)

    Once again, you are a spectacular bread baker/geek. I love your thought process on fermentation, and if you ever venture into making beer, I’m sure you’ll be successful.

  5. kat says:

    It has such a beautiful shape

  6. Sean says:

    The overnight/next day poolish and sponges are so worth it. Very tasty, carmelized color on that bread… mmmm

  7. CookiePie says:

    That is one gorgeous bread – I must try it!

  8. elra says:

    Sounds delicious, and love the shape too.

  9. Jackie at PhamFatale.com says:

    Interesting. I love focaccia and brioche too but my vegetarian husband find brioche to be to egg-y. I checked, there is no egg in your recipe, I’ll definitely give this a try. thanks for sharing

  10. Manggy says:

    Oh! It’s a sweet enriched bread! Those are my FAVORITE kinds. And it came from a magazine, too! Awesome.
    (Maybe I can get away with never making a brioche now, heh.)

  11. grace says:

    and i quote…”dough pumped full of oil.” that’s all you had to say. :)
    love the unique shape–masterfully-done, jude!

  12. lisaiscooking says:

    Looks similar to fougasse which I’ve been wanting to try! The longer ferment sounds like a great idea.

  13. maybelles mom says:

    i would say didactic rather than pedantic.

  14. Cheryl says:

    looks luscious as always. A treat both from a culinary and artistic standpoint.

  15. redmenace says:

    I think this might be the most flavorful idea for bread of all time! Plus, your presentation is shockingly lovely!!!!!! Why did you have to post this now when I’m desperately trying to fit into a wedding gown? Ha!

  16. Haley J. says:

    Brioche-like texture without eggs and butter? I’m there! You’ve really got to quit tempting me with all these breads – I’m already up to my eyeballs with the bread baker’s apprentice bit, and now I’ve got another I have to make. :)

  17. The Duo Dishes says:

    A mix of brioche and focaccia? How interesting. And of course tasty.

  18. noobcook says:

    Is this leaf shaped? It’s so beautiful. Wish I can sink my teeth into it =D~

  19. katiek @kitchensidecar says:

    you got me at hinting that this was like brioche…

    Looks great – how did you eat it? I’m thinking a cured pork product

  20. Caroline says:

    What a lovely shape, just perfect to enjoy on a picnic at the beach. This must be tasty as well, a foccacia & brioche combined! Yum.

  21. Caitlin says:

    Oh you bread geek you :) Oh wait, I’m one too. Dangit. Gorgeous bread!

  22. Sophie says:

    MMMMMMMMMMM,…the bread looks georgous & I want a slice of it right now,….

  23. YeastSpotting July 31, 2009 | Wild Yeast says:

    [...] Pompe à l’Huile – Sweet Olive Oil Bread [...]

  24. Madam Chow says:

    Beautiful job, Jude. I like that you delayed the fermentation to increase the flavor. Since I am an olive oil fanatic, yet another recipe on your blog that I’m bookmarking!

  25. Mimi says:

    That is simply a gorgeous bread

  26. Aparna says:

    The pattern makes it look so beautiful. I really like the idea of achieving a brioche-like texture without eggs.

  27. Susan/Wild Yeast says:

    Bread geeks unite! I’ve never seen this bread and it looks and sounds amazing.

  28. Stefanie says:

    I never heard about this bread before, but it sounds extraordinary good!

  29. Hefe und mehr » Blog Archive » Bread Baking Day #22: Round-up says:

    [...] Pompe à l’Huile – Sweet Olive Oil Bread [...]

  30. Lisa says:

    So much love (and olive oil) put into this beautful bread. I’m trying imagine how a combo of brioche and focaccia in a bread would taste and feel on the palate, not to mention the extra fermentation time, and no doubt it’s amazing! Another bookmark for me :) Great and incredibly creative BBD #22 entry!

  31. linda says:

    It really is pumped with olive oil, delicious! And pretty too :)

  32. sara says:

    wow, that sure is a lot of olive oil. I have never baked a sweet olive oil based cake or bread before. Very interesting, and the design is so pretty.

  33. Lori says:

    Jude- I love that you are a bread geek! I love this bread. I will try it. My husband douses his bread in olive oil on a daily basis. I am thinking he would LOVE this bread.

  34. Tangled Noodle says:

    As I read this, I was trying to imagine the taste and texture. The mentions of ‘fougasse’ helped a lot as I have indeed tried that before. This looks so beautiful; “sweet, tender, and flaky” – I can almost taste it . . .!

  35. anushruti says:

    Looks delicious and quite unique.

  36. Mary says:

    You have such a way with bread Jude…perhaps it’s the patience you have to give it a “16 hour head start…”? Looks scrumptious!

  37. The Purple Foodie says:

    “It’s how bread geeks do”. Very nice! :D

  38. katiek says:

    Did you go somewhere?

    How come no new blog posts? You’re one of my favorites. :(

  39. yasmeen says:

    Lovely bread with touch of sweetness.Long time no posts.Hope all is well :D

  40. miriam says:

    i think that this is my favorite bread ever.
    one thing, though: the salt is listed as an ingredient, but it isn’t included in the directions. my mom and i made this bread on separate occasions, and we both almost neglected to salt it.

  41. Karine says:

    This looks delicious! Thanks for sharing :)

  42. smilinggreenmom says:

    This looks so delish and instead of using AP flour – I would love it with Kamut khorasan wheat flour…mmmm! I can taste it already! Thanks for sharing :)

  43. djp says:

    It’s almost midnight & I’m thinking about baking bread…
    which means that I would be eating fresh, hot bread at 5am.
    Then going to sleep…sounds like a good thing, but I think
    that I will wait.

  44. Maris (In Good Taste) says:

    This looks so good! I bet guests would be taken aback by how gorgeous this is and I can imagine, just as delicious!

  45. jan says:

    Bread is my love! But i cannot make it by myself.

  46. Carmen says:

    I made three loaves of this bread yesterday and they looked just like the photo! Just remember to fold the salt into the poolish along with the other dry ingredients (I think that was an oversight). The name translates to “oil pump” – and I wonder if that’s because while it’s in the first hour of the fermentation stage it leaches the oil you kneaded into the dough and then pulls it back in during the second hour? Just a guess. Another theory is that this loaf is a vehicle for oil. This is a wonderful bread for any celebration – make several loaves if you’re having a large gathering. Children love it!

  47. Carmen says:

    Denise Jones from Newf In My Soup blogged about my first attempt at this recipe: http://newfinmysoup.blogspot.com/2010/06/coronado-concerts-in-park-kicks-off.html

  48. eleni says:

    Very very ineresting… reminds me of a bread that I used to eat in Italy when I was visiting my nonna… the top had coarse salt added and we used to fill it with all the necessary goodies -of course after it was ready- mozzarella, tomato etc

  49. Raquel says:

    This sounds interesting to me. Every time I have used olive oil in baking it has turned out kind of dry though.

  50. Diana says:

    Considering this was only my second attempt at making bread (the first being some awful naan), the end result is spectacular! I woke up late, which is why my poolish fermented a bit more than 16 hours and the final dough wasn’t as smooth, but rather puffed and puckered up, not to mention highly absorbent! It sucked all the olive oil right up. I think a touch of orange zest and anise or maybe even fennel seeds would’ve been fantastic too – highly reminiscent of olive oil tortas, but so much better. I love baking with olive oil. The possibilities are numerous and deeeeelicious!

  51. Noël en France Tome 1 of ?: La Tradition* « Étang says:

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    this really looks yummmmmmy! i will try. Thanks for sharing!

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  64. Chilli and garlic olive oil bread recipe | Meal time | Lay the table says:

    [...] focaccia but looked around for some possible other olive oil recipes to use and found this one for Pompe à l’Huile and make hybrid mixture of the two; that is to say I used more of the ingredient make up of the [...]

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  66. Amy @ Tasty Top says:

    Olive oil plus bread has always gone well together and this recipe seems to encapsulate both of them nicely. This is one i’ll be trying tonight with my sister.

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