One of the things I do enjoy, but pay relatively less attention to while eating out are the humble bread sticks. I am sure I am not the only one who is guilty on this count. Well, not really anyone's fault as they are mostly placed quite inconspicuously on your table along with breads and dips. You would have savored barely a couple of these and your choice of appetizers land, shifting focus. Not fair at all, I think. They are just bread sticks but are surely meant to be savored with all the due attention things as crispy and crunchy as these deserve?
I have made these earlier, a chewy version with onions and another with part whole wheat which were really good too, but the latter need prior planning with a pre-ferment in the picture. Now it can't really hurt to have a quicker, equally good version in your repertoire...for all those emergency or spur-of-the moment needs for some nice bread sticks.
These thin bread sticks or Grissini come from Susan's inspiring blog Wild Yeast. Apart from making a great make-ahead appetizer, a bouquet of these add visual panache to your dinner table says Susan - indeed! One word of caution though, have plenty on hand, put them on the table only at the last moment as these break quite easily. Don't underestimate the ability of these sticks to disappear quickly as you may tend to grab one (even as you chide your hubby or child not to do exactly that) each time you pass by...
A really simple recipe made with a simple pizza dough, which will take 90 seconds to make in a food processor or with about 8-10 minutes of kneading by hand. The recipe uses water at room temperature and less yeast for a slower rise, meaning better flavor. You could get creative with the toppings and make a variety of these. But be sure to use enough salt in the dough (specially if not using salt as a topping) as inadequate salt may make your grissini taste flat.
Sea salt, chilli flakes, zatar, ground pepper, mixed Italian herbs could be a few you can use by way of toppings. The original recipe makes a whole lot of them, I have halved the recipe and saved half of the dough in my freezer to bake a small pizza or more grissini. Though grissini is not difficult to make, it does take some time and patience to roll, cut and shape, then bake multiple batches if using the average Indian home size oven.
Ingredients: (for half the recipe on Susan's blog, original recipe from Baking Illustrated)
- Flour - 312 grams
- Water at room temperature - 198 grams (aprox 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons)
- Instant yeast - 1 teaspoon
- Salt - heaping 3/4 teaspoon (will use a tiny bit more next time)
- Olive oil or any neutral tasting oil such as sunflower - 1 tablespoon
- Topping of your choice (suggestion - a mixture of coarse Kosher salt, coarsely-ground pepper, and chopped fennel seed as suggested by the original recipe, or just salt and pepper or salt and Italian herbs)
- More oil for brushing
- Sift the flour, yeast, and salt to make sure the salt is evenly distributed.(Or place in the bowl the food processor. Pulse a few times to combine.)
- Add the water and oil, mix till the dough comes together. (Combine the water and olive oil in a liquid measuring cup. With the processor running, add the liquid to the dry ingredients in a steady stream)
- Knead on a lightly floured surface till smooth and elastic, about 8-10 minutes( If using a food processor, process until the dough is smooth and elastic, about 90 seconds.)
- Place the dough in a lightly oiled container or dough rising bucket. Cover the container and let the dough ferment at room temperature until doubled in volume, about an hour or so ( the time may vary, so go by the level of the dough as the correct indicator)
- While the dough rises, prepare your
baking sheets, line them with parchment. Keep the toppings, some oil, a
silicon brush and a pizza cutter ready.
- Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C / 350F.
- Divide the dough into two equal pieces. Take one piece of dough, keep the other covered.
a floured counter, roll the dough out into a rectangle to suit the size
of your baking tray. I have rolled the dough about 3-4 mm thick,
rectangle about 10''/7'', cut into 1.5 cm wide strips. ( Susan makes each of them
about 12 x 8 inches, cut into 16 equal strips). As Susan says, the
exact dimensions are not critical, but be sure to cut and roll each
piece into strips approximately the same thickness and width for uniformity in
baking and to help you approximate the baking time for the next batch.
- Using a pizza cutter, cut the rolled dough into strips of equal width. Remove each strip, place slightly apart. Fold each strip over itself (according to Baking Illustrated, this makes it stronger). On an unfloured surface, roll the strip into a long snake, try to keep the thickness uniform again.
- Place the snakes evenly spaced across the width of the
parchment-lined baking sheet. They won't very dramatically increase in
size as you bake, but do not place too close or the sticks will grow
into each other, have softish sides.
- Lightly spray or brush the grissini with olive oil and sprinkle on the topping.
- Bake at 350F for 25 – 30 minutes, until light golden brown. Do not let them brown too much.
- Cool on a wire rack. Store in an airtight container.
So these grissini from Susan's blog go to Susan's weekly Yeast Spotting! Thanks Susan, you are an inspiration!
On to the giveaway results for the announcement made here. Thanks to everyone who left a comment and for all your wishes! The randomly chosen winner for the giveaway of Alice Medrich's Chocolate Holidays is......
Congratulations Nilanjana and here's wishing lots of chocolate happiness and fun trying out recipes from the book! Please email me your mailing address to sumadotrowjeeatgmaildotcom. The book will soon be on its way!