Monday, May 6, 2013

Long, Knobby, Crisp and Homemade. Mama Mia! Italian Breadsticks.

These old-fashioned breadsticks are perfect served with soup, pasta or just for snacking.  They are easy to make, as are their cousins, the grissinis.  Use this recipe to make your grissini.  Your stand mixer makes quick work of this recipe.

Check below for different topping options: sesame seeds, garlic, cheese, rosemary... lots to choose from.

This recipe makes about 40 breadsticks.


2      cups warm water
1      package active dry yeast (2 1/4 tsp)
2      tbsp sugar
1/4   cup olive oil
5 to 7  cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1     tbsp salt
cornmeal or semolina flour for dusting

In the mixing bowl of your stand mixer, using the flat beater, sprinkle the yeast over the warm water and allow to soften.  Add the sugar, oil, five cups of flour and the salt.  Pulse with the on/off switch until the flour is incorporated enough that it will not fly out of the bowl.  Mix at first speed until the dough comes away from the sides of the bowl.  If the dough is too soft, add more flour 1/4 cup at a time.

Remove and scrape down the beater and insert the dough hook.  Run at first speed until the dough forms up on the hook and comes away from the sides of the bowl (8 to 10 minutes).  My regular size KitchenAid had a few problems kneading the dough.  Keep an eye on your mixer and break up the dough whenever the machine seems to hesitate.  You can use the second speed for the last few minutes to strengthen the gluten.

Transfer to an oiled bowl and turn to coat.  Cover and allow to rise until doubled in volume.

Doubled in volume and ready to proceed
On a floured surface, roll the dough into a long rectangle about 1/4 inch thick.  Sprinkle lightly with cornmeal.  With a pizza cutter or a thin blade and a yardstick, cut 20 sticks measuring about five inches by four inches.  Stretch or roll each stick to about 12 inches in length and place across the width of cornmeal-dusted baking sheets.  Leave enough space between each stick to allow them to puff up and double in size in the oven.  Bake immediately without allowing to rise.

Assorted breadsticks fresh from the oven
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Bake on the middle shelf of the oven for approximately 20 minutes.  It may be necessary to turn each stick over for the last five to ten minutes to get an even colour all around.  If you are using tiles or an oven stone, turn over directly onto the stone for a crustier stick.

There are infinite varieties of breadsticks.  Check these out to get you started:
Sesame seeds: sprinkle the seeds over the work surface and the top of the dough before rolling out.

Garlic: sprinkle 1/4 teaspoon pure garlic powder on top of the dough before rolling.

Cheese: add 1/4 cup of grated hard Italian cheese, such as Parmesan or Romano, to the dough before kneading. Or try combining two cheeses.  Reduce the salt in the recipe by 1/4 teaspoon.

Olive oil and rosemary: roll out the dough on a surface that has been brushed with olive oil.  Brush the top of the dough with more olive oil and sprinkle with minced dried rosemary.

Black or green olives with or without red pepper flakes- place in the middle of the piece of dough and roll the dough around the filling.

Maple syrup and sliced almonds: not very Italian but they are delicious! Place in the middle of the piece of dough and roll the dough around the filling.

Honey and cinnamon, with or without sliced almonds- place in the middle of the piece of dough and roll the dough around the filling.

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