Pompe a l’huile (sweet orange and olive oil bread)

Until recently I had never heard of Pompe a l’huile and wow have I been missing out! This Provençal sweet orange olive oil bread is a bit like a firmer brioche and is a relative of the fougasse.

It is a Christmas tradition in France, forming part of the 13 desserts served after midnight mass. It is a flat, round bread/cake made with high quality olive oil, flour, sugar and orange flower water. It is that orange flower water to gives the bread that fruity warmth that I am happy to eat all the way through the year.

So here is the recipe to my new favourite afternoon treat.


(makes 2 loaves)

7g instant dry yeast
¼ cup warm water
250g plain flour
60g caster sugar
½tsp salt
2 eggs (1 for the dough, 1 for glazing)
60ml good quality olive oil
1 tbsp orange blossom water or you can use the grated zest of 1 orange and 1 tbsp water


  • Pre heat you oven to 180 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Dissolve the yeast in the warm water and put to one side.
  • In a large bowl mix the flour, sugar and salt and then make a well in the centre.
  • Next add the dissolved yeast, one egg, olive oil and orange flower water. Mix to combine and bring into a dough. Knead for around 3 mins until smooth and stretchy.
  • Then shape the dough into a ball using your hands and place it in a medium bowl. Cover the bowl with clingfilm and set aside to rise in a warm place for two hours.
  • Turn the dough out on to a lightly floured work surface and gently press out the air.
  • Now split it in half and shape each into a ball. Cover with a tea towel and leave to rest for 10 minutes.
  • On your baking sheet, flatten each one into an oval or circle about 1cm thick. Using a knife carve a small circle in the centre of each oval, then make four long slits, like a cross, from the centre to near the edge of the dough. The slits are important for an even bake. Open the slits slightly, using your fingers.
  • Cover the breads and let them rise for about one hour, until slightly puffy.
  • Glaze the dough with a beaten egg and bake for around 20 minutes. It will be golden brown when ready to take out. It is delicious warm and served on its own or with jam.

And remember….tradition has it that, you should not cut the bread with a knife but instead use your hands to break it. One less thing to wash up suits me!

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