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Gibassiers: Extra-Virgin Olive Oil Brioche Rolls with Candied Tangerine Peel

The small round breads sparkling with sugar, called Gibassiers, sitting in the case at Thorough Bread Bakery in San Francisco jolted my memory. I asked if they were made with olive oil and was told no, but with lots of butter. I bought a few to take home. They were delicious, with a taste of orange and anise and the consistency of brioche. But I was sure I had seen a version made with olive oil. A search of my French baking books let to a recipe in Raymond Clavel’s classic book, Le Goût du Pain. His version of these South of France specialties contained both shortening and olive oil. In this recipe, I’ve traded the shortening for more olive oil.

Candied orange peel is in the original recipe, but I substitute a quick version of semi-candied tangerine peels that are easier to make. They should be prepared the day before or up to a week ahead.

16 rolls


The tangerine peel:

1 ½ ounces tangerine or mandarin peel (about 1 large fruit) finely diced (reserve the rest of the fruit for another use)
1 cup (8 ounces) water
¾ cup (5 ¼ ounces) granulated cane sugar

The sponge:

¼ cup warm whole milk
1 ½ teaspoons active dry yeast
1 large egg, at room temperature
¾ cup (3 1/3 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour

The final dough:

3 cups (14 ¼ ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
1 ½ teaspoons fine sea salt
½ cup (3 ½ ounces) granulated cane sugar
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon anise seed
¼ cup (2 ounces) warm water
1 ½ teaspoons active dry yeast
all of the sponge
2 large eggs, at room temperature
scant 2/3 cup (5 ounces) delicate extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons (1 ounce) orange blossom water
the tangerine peel, drained

The glaze:

1/3 cup (2 1/3 ounces) granulated cane sugar
3 tablespoons (1 ½ ounces) unsalted butter, melted


Candy the tangerine peels:

Put the peels in a small container. Bring the water and sugar to a boil, stirring occasionally to dissolve the sugar. Pour the hot sugar syrup over the peels and cool to room temperature. Refrigerate overnight or up to a week.

Make the sponge:

Put the milk in a small bowl. Sprinkle the yeast on top and wait until it dissolves and becomes creamy, about 3 minutes. Add the egg and beat with a fork to combine. Add flour and stir to make a stiff dough.

Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and leave at room temperature until it bubbles and doubles in size, about 2 hours.

Mix the final dough:

In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, salt, sugar, and anise seeds together. Set aside.

Put the water in the bowl of a stand mixer. Sprinkle the yeast on top and wait until it dissolves and becomes creamy, about 3 minutes. Scrape the sponge into the bowl. Add the eggs, olive oil, and orange blossom water. Mix on medium speed with the dough hook until the sponge breaks apart and begins to mix with the liquids. Add the flour and mix on low speed until the flour is absorbed and the dough just comes together, about 2 minutes. It will still look rough.

Turn off the mixer and let the dough rest for 20 minutes. Add the drained tangerine peel. Restart the mixer and knead on medium speed until the dough forms a ball and is elastic, about 3 minutes.

Remove the bowl from the mixer, remove the dough hook, and cover the bowl with plastic wrap. Leave at room temperature until the dough doubles, about 2 hours.

Shape the rolls:

Line two baking pans with parchment paper.

Turn the dough out onto floured work surface. This is a soft, somewhat sticky dough, so use sufficient flour to manipulate it. Divide the dough into 16 equal pieces. Shape the pieces into balls and place them on the baking pans 4 inch apart, 8 on each pan.

Slide each pan into a large plastic bag, shake the top of the bag a few times to introduce air so it doesn’t stick to the dough, and tie the ends closed. Leave at room temperature until the rolls double, about 1 ½ hours.

Bake and glaze the rolls:

Position two racks in the oven and preheat it to 350°F.

Remove the pans from the plastic bags. Bake, switching shelves and rotating the pans 180 degrees halfway through the baking time, until the rolls are brown and sound hollow when thumped on the bottom, 20 to 25 minutes.

Put the sugar for the glaze into a small bowl. Have the melted butter handy.

As soon as you can pick up the rolls, brush them with melted butter and upend them one at a time into the bowl of sugar, shaking the bowl so the sugar adheres to the top and sides.

Put the rolls right side up on a rack to cool.



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