The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Pompe å L’Huile

Benito's picture

Pompe å L’Huile

These are a traditional Christmas time dessert from Provence France.  They are a vegan brioche so rather than butter there is olive oil used instead.  This recipe was posted by Melissa over on Breadtopia and I followed her excellent formula.  I did make some changes.  I did not have ground anise so instead used Chinese Five Spice.  Also instead of just orange, I used a combination of Meyer Lemon and a smaller amount of orange.  Pompe å L’Huile recipe


  • Stiff Levain (250g, 56% hydration) 
  • 140g bread or all purpose flour
  • 70g water
  • 40g starter, 100% hydration
  • Final Dough 
  • 80g water (1/3 cup)
  • 100g sugar (½ cup)
  • 12g orange blossom water (1 Tbsp or additional orange juice)
  • 9g salt (1½ tsp)
  • 3g ground anise (1 tsp) (can substitute Chinese 5 Spice ¾-1  tsp)
  • Zest from 1 orange
  • 36g orange juice (3 Tbsp)
  • 120g olive oil (½ cup + 1 Tbsp)
  • 350g bread flour (2 2/3 cups)
  • 250g stiff levain from above, doubled or tripled in size
  • Optional 
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil to brush on the breads when hot from the oven
  • The night before you plan to bake, mix a 56% hydration sourdough starter weighing 250g. Knead it on the counter for 1-2 minutes, and then place it in a jar with room for tripling. Cover and leave it somewhere warm. This stiff starter can be created from a single feed of 40g 100% hydration starter, 140g bread flour, and 70g water.
  • Mixing
  • In a medium bowl (ideally with a pouring spout), measure out the water, sugar, orange blossom water, salt, and ground anise.
  • While the sugar and salt begin dissolving, zest and juice the orange, straining out seeds and pulp.
  • Stir a bit and then add the oil.
  • In the bowl of a stand mixer, briefly whisk your flour and instant yeast - OR - add the stiff starter in chunks to your flour. If you chose to proof your yeast, you can simply pour the mixture over the flour.
  • Add the orange mixture to your stand mixer bowl and begin mixing using the dough hook attachment.
  • Mix 5-8 minutes, initially on low speed and then low-med. Pause once early on to scrape down the sides of the bowl. The dough should be smooth and only slightly sticky to the touch toward the end of mixing.  Should come clean off the sides of the bowl.  (Took much longer than 8 mins)
  • If you don't have a stand mixer, mix by hand or with a spatula, and then slap and fold the dough for gluten development. Videos of this technique can be found here.
  • First Rise
  • Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled bowl. Cover and let rise in a warm place until about doubled. This was 3 1/2 hours with instant yeast, and 8 hours with sourdough.
  • Shaping
  • Scrape the dough onto your countertop. There's no need to flour or oil it. Divide the dough in two pieces and roll them into balls.
  • Cover the dough balls with a large piece of plastic wrap (you'll reuse this) and let them rest for about 20 minutes.
  • Prepare a large baking sheet with parchment paper. You can also prepare two parchment squares and bake the breads one at a time on a smaller baking sheet.
  • Using a rolling pin, roll the dough balls into circles about 8 inches in diameter and 1/2 inch thick.
  • Transfer the circles to the parchment paper, and make cuts in the dough as if it were pie but without reaching the center or the edges. Open the cuts a bit with your tool (spatula) or your fingers.
  • Final Proof
  • Cover the dough with your sheet of plastic wrap and let it rise in a warm place until puffy, almost twice as tall. This was 1 1/2 hours for instant yeast, and 4 hours for sourdough.
  • Baking
  • Preheat your oven to 400°F with a shelf in the center position.
  • Bake the pompe à l'huile for 16-18 minutes or until the internal temp is over 200°F. If your fermentation times were long, the color of the breads may be lighter despite the interior being cooked through.
  • Lightly brush the breads with olive oil to help them stay soft longer.
  • Let the pompe à l'huile cool on a rack for about 20 minutes, then sprinkle powdered sugar on them if desired.
  • The breads can be wrapped for storage, and softened through reheating in the microwave for 10-15 seconds.


Ilya Flyamer's picture
Ilya Flyamer

Very interesting Benny never heard of this bread, sounds lovely! Curious to see the crumb, and to hear the tasting notes.

gavinc's picture

Very nice. I love the ingredients for Christmas, and they look very "Christmasy". It takes a "labour of love" to make these, but we do a lot of that at Christmas! I'm sure they will be a hit.

My wife has made a traditional Christmas pudding that she has put a lot of effort into. I've picked out a golden raisin bread which will be great for Christmas morning while I'm preparing the lunch. What are your plans for Christmas; do you have the family for Christmas eve or day?

Cheers and Merry Christmas,


Benito's picture

Thanks Gavin. Lovely that your wife is making a Christmas pudding, they are a lot of work from what I’ve seen of them.  Nice that you’ve already planned your Christmas baking the golden raisin bread should be lovely.

We originally had plans to go to my sister’s home for Christmas dinner, however, we have had to cancel.  Despite the recent lockdowns here in Toronto the COVID-19 numbers are reaching new record highs.  The only things we do now are work and be at home.  Well we do grocery shopping as well and go out for walks for some exercise.  We haven’t seen friends in many months.  It would have been nice to see my family for Christmas but it just isn’t in the cards this year.  I am very worried that most people won’t follow the rules and will still get together and cause this second wave to get even worse.  

Anyhow, we’ll be fine missing one Christmas with family, it s far from the end of the world.  We’ll drop off presents and say hi from the front porch masked and keeping our distance. 

Enjoy your baking and your family/friends this Christmas Gavin.  Merry Christmas to you and yours.


gavinc's picture

We in Melbourne thought we would still be in lock-down, but most people were compliant with the rules and we had a turn-a-round. We are now in "Covid Normal" and can get out and see family and have them over. Our "Acillies heel" is people returning from overseas; they must go into controlled isolation at a hotel for two weeks. Sydney is experiencing blowout of cases and going back into lock-down, so the borders will be closed again.

Stay safe.


Benito's picture

Yes things are bad here at the moment, the provincial government didn’t act early enough to stop this second wave.  We were pushing to have them close in Sept and Oct when numbers were starting to climb, had they done so we might actually be able to do some Christmas shopping and actually visit family.

Enjoy your family time, you guys are very lucky.


Benito's picture

This bread is a lovely much healthier and surprisingly tasty alternative to brioche.  I like that it is vegan so I’m not feeling guilty about the amount of it I have eaten already.  The flavours of the Chinese five spice, Meyer lemon and orange are subtle but there.  The bread isn’t very sweet so although it is described as a dessert it seems not quite sweet enough for that.  It does make a nice breakfast which I can attest to having eating ⅓ of a loaf just now with my Assam tea!  When I make this again, I would boost the citrus zest and the spice.  alternate spices I would consider would be cardamom which I think would be really nice with citrus.  Also, instead of extra virgin olive oil which I used a lighter olive oil would give the crumb a lighter less greenish colour which I think would be better.  That being said, the crumb really has a tender moistness to it, not surprising given the use of olive oil.

Abe's picture

I do like the look of those breads. They look delicious, like soft cushions. Got quite a lot of added favours in there too which makes for a very interesting combo. Very nice bake indeed, Benny.

Benito's picture

I think I would bake longer next time and up the spice and zest.  I toasted a wedge of it at lunch and the extra flavour from the toasting was amazing.

suminandi's picture

These look beautiful and sound delicious. I love the flavor of olive oil, though it does read more savory and less desert-y to me (vs butter). The flavors sound perfect for the holidays. 

It made me think of a recipe I found on freshloaf (and tried) a few years back for a Spanish sweet olive oil flatbread - tortas de aceite ( Very easy to make and excellent with a cup of tea. 

Benito's picture

I’ll have to look at that recipe Sumi thanks for linking that for me.  Perhaps using a light olive oil would read less savory, that is another thing I would consider changing for the next bake, however I never had light olive oil in the house and hate to buy something just for one bake.