Sweet Christmas Bread

view from the side of the sweet bread cut.
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This sweet Christmas bread is like a brioche, made with olive oil and flavoured with a hint of orange. Originally from Provence, it is a traditional bread to have on the dessert table on Christmas Eve. This bread is part of the traditional 13 desserts from Provence. As I previously shared, you can bake this 2 other desserts: the Yule log and the Mendiants.

Sweet Bread from Provence

The sweet bread gets all its flavours from the South of France: the olive oil and the orange. It really tastes like home.

You can either use the orange blossom or the fresh juice of an orange and its zest. Personally, I think both are lovely but I tend to prefer with the orange blossom. The taste is more full and authentic that way but if you fear the little one or someone will not like it, stay on the safer side with the fresh orange.

About that tradition

According to the tradition, you should not cut the bread with a knife but rather use your hands to break it. Otherwise, it would be bad luck financially for the year to come.

The ”Pompe à l’huile” is the pride of the 13 desserts. If you want to be super traditional, instead of my 9 cuts (random) cuts I made in the bread, you can make 7 which represents the days of week.

I have been making the Christmas sweet bread for quite some time now. Funny enough, I never did it when I lived in France, we would buy it, but here I have been baking away the few days before Christmas to be able to have the 13 desserts on the table.

I highly recommend making my recipes using a scale but for your convenience I have also converted the recipe using this website.

Sweet Christmas Bread

With a hint of orange, sweet Christmas bread is a sort of brioche made with olive oil. Part of the 13 desserts of Provence, it is called ''Pompe à l'huile".
Course: Breakfast, Dessert
Cuisine: French
Keyword: brioche, christmas, french, olive oil, orange, sweet bread
Servings: 2 breads
Author: Mélanie


1st step

  • 1 and 3/4 cup flour 2oog
  • 1/3 cup sugar 65g
  • 1 packet of yeast 8g
  • 1 cup warm water

2nd step

  • 150 ml olive oil
  • 2 tbsp zest of orange
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 and 3/4 cup flour 200g (2nd round needed)
  • 2 tbsp orange juice freshly squeezed

Egg Wash

  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 tsp water


1st step

  • In a bowl, mix the flour, sugar, yeast.
    spread of the ingredient for the bread
  • Add the water.
    Flour in a bowl, whisk on the side with water
  • Mix well and let it rest an hour (or more) in a warm place.
    Whisk showing a beginning of a wet dough.

2nd step

  • Your first step has double size.
    wet dough in a bowl and ingredients around in ramekins: orange, flour
  • Add the olive oil, the orange zest, the salt, the orange juice, the flour. Mix well and knead.
    If you are using a stand mixer, knead with the hook for 3-4 minutes. If you are kneading with your hands 7 to 10 minutes.
    Orange zest being pour in the dough preparation in a bowl
  • Rest for 2 to 3 hours in a warm room.
    Red dish cloth on a bowl
  • Pre-heat the oven at 425F.
  • Your dough will have doubled size.
    Dough in a bowl has risen
  • Separate the dough in 2 balls.
    2 balls of dough for the sweet bread
  • Roll each down in an oval shape and make some cute in the bread. With a brush, spread thinly some of the egg wash (mix the egg yolk and water) on each bread.
    Sweet bread uncooked on a baking mat with a pastry brush on the side.
  • Bake the breads 20 to 25 minutes (depending of your oven) or until your bread looks golden (see picture)
    Sweet bread on a wooden tray, napkin and half an orange on the side.


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