Embrace the flavors of French Cuisine at your holiday feast when you make this sweet olive oil bread called La Pompe à l’Huile. The sweet, orange flavor of this Provencal Christmas Bread will be adored by all!
Everybody has a food tradition they love to embrace during the holidays, and the French are no exception. Some of these foods are common and widely known, like a Yule Log Cake, while others are unique and best-kept secrets. One of these special traditions happens to be a sweet olive oil bread called La Pompe à l’Huile. This Provencal Christmas Bread is made during the holidays each year in the south of France.
Provencal Christmas Bread ~ La Pompe à l’Huile
Fragrant with the scent of orange, this Provencal Christmas Bread is any bread-lover’s dream. The bread is traditionally made to taste sweet, although how sweet you make it is entirely up to you. Some enjoy the bread with just a hint of sugar, while others desire the bread to truly taste like dessert. After all, this Provencal Christmas Bread is considered a dessert in French tradition, and is to be enjoyed as part of the Thirteen Desserts after Midnight Mass.
Another appealing aspect of this bread is it’s easy to tear apart, which is part of the French tradition when eating this bread. The design of the bread also contributes to its ease of tearing. Designing the bread this way is as easy as making two-inch slits in the bread with a pair of kitchen scissors. You can make anywhere from three to eight slits in the bread, and it can be shaped into a circle or oval. Either way, this Provencal Christmas Bread is the perfect party food to place on a holiday spread.
To compliment the orange flavor of this sweet bread, you can use honey as part of the sweetener in the recipe. The honey adds a slight floral quality that pairs beautifully with the citrus notes. The olive oil flavor is very subtle and provides a tender crumb more than anything else. The bread is incredibly fluffy and will instantaneously melt in your mouth. You can serve this Provencal Christmas Bread simply as is, dusted with powdered sugar, or with some turbinado sugar sprinkled on top for a little crunch and sparkle. After one bite, you’ll understand why it’s been a French Christmas favorite for so long.
- 2 1/4 tsp active dry yeast
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 2 tbsp honey
- 3 3/4 cups all-purpose flour, divided
- 2 tsp salt
- 3/4 cup olive oil (plus more for greasing bowl)
- Zest of 1 large orange
- Turbinado sugar, to garnish (optional)
- In a large bowl, combine the yeast, granulated sugar, honey, and 1 cup of warm water (105-110°F). Add 1 1/4 cup of flour to the bowl, and use a wooden spoon to stir and combine. Cover the bowl with a light kitchen towel and store the bowl in a warm, draft-free place (such as the microwave). Let the dough rest for 30 minutes.
- After 30 minutes, add the remaining flour, salt, olive oil, and orange zest to the dough. Stir to combine everything together. Pick up the dough with your hands and mold into a ball. Keep turning the dough and kneading it with your hands to create as smooth of a ball as you can. Grease another bowl with some olive oil, and transfer the dough to the bowl. Cover with the kitchen towel again and let the dough rest for 2 hours.
- Preheat the oven to 400°F. Line a baking sheet with a sheet of parchment paper or a silicone mat. Transfer the dough to the prepared baking sheet, spreading it out into an oval shape or circle. Smooth out the dough so that it's evenly dispersed. Use kitchen scissors to make approximately six 2" slits in the dough. Use your fingers to stretch the slits open into large holes. This will keep the slits from closing up as the bread bakes.
- Sprinkle turbinado sugar all over the bread. Bake the bread for approximately 20 to 25 minutes, until golden.
Home Chef Tip: If you'd like to make a savory version of this bread, omit the sugar and honey. Instead, add about 1 tbsp of dried herbs like herbes de Provence and/or 2-3 tbsp chopped olives.
We hope you love this recipe for Provencal Christmas Bread from SoFabFood Contributor, Beeta from Mon Petit Four, as much as we do. If you love this delightful recipe, stop by our Desserts section to find more like it. Don’t forget to subscribe to our newsletter so that you never miss a single recipe, and you can visit our Pinterest boards for even more incredible dessert ideas. Enjoy!