In order to ensure an even bake, the bread needs to be scored. Sweet olive oil bread forms part of the 13 desserts served in France during the reveillon or Christmas dinner served after midnight Mass, a tradition that is only about 100 years old.
What is Sweet Olive Oil Bread?
Have you tried sweet olive oil bread? Sweet olive oil bread (pompe a l'huile) is one of the traditional breads served at Christmastime in France. It is especially popular in the south of France. It's a cross between a focaccia and brioche, that's the best way to describe it. Sweet olive oil bread can be shaped in the round or oval. Another version is shaped like a giant over sized mitten.
13 Desserts Symbolism
The 13 desserts are symbolic of the 13 people present at the Last Supper. This french bread recipe represents the bread that was eaten during that meal. This bread is traditionally torn and not cut. There are no set recipes for this bread. Some versions include orange blossom water or lemon zest. Orange blossom water is an ingredient often found in Indian and Middle Eastern and some North African confections. It is used in both savory and sweet foods. Anise seed is also a common ingredient.
It requires that you use a fruity olive oil to achieve maximum flavor. I must say, I am in love with this bread and French Christmastime tradition. Well, I am in love with carbs, let me just state. The soft texture, and sweet/savory combination is amazing.
This recipe is from Saveur.
Sweet Olive Oil Bread
- 3 ¾ cup flour
- ⅓ cup sugar Plus 1 Tbsp
- 1 packet dry active yeast 7 gram package
- 1 cup water warm
- ¾ cup olive oil + 1 Tbsp extra virgin
- ½ tsp salt
- Place 1 ½ cups of flour, sugar and yeast and water in a bowl and stir well. Let the mixture sit in a warm spot for about 30 minutes.
- Add remaining flour, ¾ cup of oil and salt and stir to form a dough.
- Turn on a floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic (5-7 minutes).
- Place dough in a large clean bowl that has been greased with the additional tablespoon of olive oil. The dough needs to rise for about 3 hours or until doubled in bulk.
- Preheat oven to 400''F. Turn dough onto a sheet of parchment and stretch out with your fingers, trying to form a 12" circle.
- Starting from the center, cut 5 slits that are about 1" wide by about 2" long side by side. Scoop out the center dough You will basically be creating a sand dollar pattern.
- Stretch the slits made so they widen a bit.
- Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and place dough on top.
- Bake for about 15 minutes until golden brown.
- Immediately after you remove the bread from the oven, brush with the 2 Tbsp. of hot water to allow the crust to soften.
- Place bread on a cooling rack.
- Eat warm or at room temperature.