Le Gibassier | Milkbottle

Le Gibassier

13 Desserts

A Provençal Christmas tradition, Les Treize Desserts de Noël are served at the end of the holiday feast each year, that lucky number 13 symbolizing Jesus and the 12 apostles at the Last Supper. There are any number of takes on this tradition, depending on family favorites, but you’re likely to find many of the recipes here on the table, along with an assortment of fresh fruit, cheeses with quince paste, nuts, dried fruit, and any other treats to count toward the magic 13. Tradition holds that you must have at least one small bite of each sweet treat. And you wouldn’t want to mess with tradition, would you?

1/3 cup milk, lukewarm
2 packs dry active yeast
1/3 cup sugar
2 ½ cups bread flour
½ t salt
2 eggs
2 T olive oil
1 T orange-blossom water
zest of one orange, about 2 t
optional: ½ cup candied orange peel, chopped
2 T softened butter
2 t aniseed
powdered sugar for dusting
honey and butter for serving
In a small bowl, combine the milk, yeast, and half the sugar and let stand until foamy, about 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, in the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk together the four, salt, and remaining sugar. Using a dough hook, add in the eggs, oil, orange-blossom water, orange zest, orange peel (if using), and yeast mixture and mix on medium speed until a smooth elastic dough forms, about 10 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary.
Add the butter and fennel seed, continuing to mix on medium speed until fully incorporated.
Turn out the dough into a large lightly oiled bowl, cover and let stand in a warm place until doubled in size, about 1 ½ hours.
Line a large baking sheet with parchment.
Punch down the dough and roll out into a 9x11 inch rectangle.
Cut several slits into the dough and pull them slightly open.
Again, cover and let stand in a warm place until doubled in size, about an hour.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
Bake until golden brown, about 10-12 minutes.
Dust with powdered sugar.
Tear pieces apart with your hands and serve with honey and butter on the side.

Image: Linda Pugliese via Taverne Agency. Recipe: Chelsea Zimmer

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