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.
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 flour||1 3/4 cups||8.0||227|
|instant yeast||a pinch (1/16 tsp)|
- Pour the water over the yeast and stir to dissolve. Add the flour and mix until thoroughly hydrated.
- Cover and and let stand at room temperature for 14 to 16 hours.
For the Final Dough:
|all of the poolish|
|unbleached all-purpose flour||2 cups||8.8||250|
|granulated sugar||1/3 cup + 1 tbsp||2.8||80|
|instant yeast||2 1/4 tsp||.25||7|
|extra-virgin olive oil||3/4 cup||5.7||162|
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.
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.
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.
Sweet, tender, and flaky, kind of like a brioche. Now I get it.