Posted by: Jonjon | July 30, 2009

Pompe a l’Huile – Sweet Olive Oil Bread 9/10 July 30 2009

Poolish = 100% water to all purpose flour, and pinch of yeast  Bread = 181% poolish, 32% granulated sugar, 2.8% yeast, 64% olive oil, 4.8% salt to AP flour

For the Poolish:

Ingredients Volume                       Ounces                        Grams

unbleached all-purpose flou1 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 flour2 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.

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.

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.


This was definitely a sweet bread. My pan flipped over for some reason after putting it into the oven, leading my temperature measurer to fall into the hot wires beneath. It took me a while to take the thermometer out, and that lead to a decrease in temperature. But I’m guessing that because the thermometer fell into the hot wires, it absorbed a great deal of heat, leading me to believe in the wrong temperature of the oven. It was showing 225C, when I think it was only 175C in there…..I baked it for 25 minutes, and it still did not crispen (by the way, my oven is broken, the temperature will only go up so usually I switch the oven off when I bake and try to get the temperature maintained at a level that I like)
Anyways. The bread came out with chewy outside, instead of flakey crust. It tasted like a sweet bread. You couldn’t really taste the oil… was just very…delicious for some reason. Moist, and the sugar very well developed, perhaps due to the long fermented polish. After 4 hours, the bread only doubled, that’s all.


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