grissini.Posted on Dec 12, 2010 in baking, breads, recipes, savory, yeast breads | 8 comments
I don’t know about you, but thanks to the fast food nation we now live in and the proficient marketing of processed food, when I hear the word “breadsticks,” unfortunately my mind conjures up thoughts of greasy, doughy, bloated blocks of bread sandwiched together in a pizza box, served with a side of one or another variety of mysterious dipping sauce. Or the one of a billion, store-bought, frozen, oven-ready breadsticks — akin to the upscale breadstick that you might expect to find at the average pasta franchise — which, although quick and easy, are quite generic and filled with preservatives and artificial flavors.
Well, sorry, but I have no interest in any of those typically North American breadsticks. I’d much rather a grissini: a crunchy, flavorful breadstick reminiscent of those found in northern Italy and Spain.
These spindles of crispy bread are surprisingly simple and easy to make, and are wonderfully special when served at a dinner party as part of a spread of home made tapas, or even as a healthy afternoon snack for the kiddies when dipped in hummus or almond butter and served alongside carrot sticks and apple wedges.
3½ cups all purpose flour, plus more as needed
2 tsp salt
1 tsp instant yeast
1 tbsp honey
2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra for greasing the bowl
1½ cups water
cornmeal or semolina flour
This recipe can be made with a large food processor or by hand. The main sequence of directions below includes instructions based on using a food processor, since that’s what I use, but if you’re making it by hand, please refer to the first step here:
By Hand Step 1 Method (the method to take if you’ve got a bit of extra time and need an arm workout):
- In a large bowl, combine ½ the flour with the salt and yeast whisk to blend.
- Mix together the honey, oil and water; add the water mixture to the flour mixture and stir with a wooden spoon, until smooth.
- Add remaining flour, a bit at a time, stirring until the mixture becomes to stiff to stir with a spoon.
- Begin kneading, adding as little flour as possible — just enough to keep the dough from being a sticky mess.
- Knead until smooth but still quite moist, about 10 minutes. Pick up at Step 5, below…
- Place the flour in the container of the food processor fitted with the steel blade; add the salt and yeast and whiz for 5 seconds.
- Turn the machine on, leave it running, and add the honey, oil and water through the feed tube. Process for 30 seconds.
- The dough should be a nicely defined, only slightly sticky ball. If it is too dry, add more water 1 tbsp at a time and process for another 5 to 10 seconds after each addition. Too dry? Add another tbsp of flour and process briefly.
- Knead for a couple of minutes by hand.
- Shape dough into a ball, place in a lightly oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap or a damp towel.
- Let rise for at least 1½ hours, until doubled in bulk.
- Punch the ball of dough to deflate it; shape into a flat rectangle and let rise (covered in wrap or a towel) on a lightly floured board, about 15 minutes.
- Working along the long side of the rectangle, cut the dough into thin strips. Pull and roll them into long, roughly cylindrical stick, then place on a cornmeal covered baking sheet. Don’t try to make them too perfect or identical — part of the beauty of home made, traditional grissini are their irregular or unique shapes. Feel free to experiment with shapes and have fun twisting the strips or spiraling 2 lengths together.
- Cover and let rest while you preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.
- Bake on baking sheets (or baking stones) for 15 minutes, or until lightly browned.
- Cool on wire racks before serving.
- Grissini are best served the day you make them, but also keep pretty well wrapped tightly in waxed paper or stored in a tall jar or tin.