Pompe à l’Huile – Sweet Olive Oil Bread

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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

Notes:

  • 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:

Ingredients Volume Ounces Grams
unbleached all-purpose flour 1 3/4 cups 8.0 227
water 1 cup 8.0 227
instant yeast a 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:

Ingredients Volume Ounces Grams
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
salt 2 tsp 0.4 12

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.

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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.

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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.

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Sweet, tender, and flaky, kind of like a brioche. Now I get it.