Well what do you think, should your bread-stick be long, thin and crunchy or short, fat and chewy? Should it be plain or should it have some flavour? Or how about straight or maybe twisted? Here’s a recipe you can play about with – these grissini are yours. You can roll them in nigella, poppy, fennel or sesame seeds or in polenta or Parmesan cheese. You can use ordinary cracked peppercorns or one of the many flavoured sea-salts that are mixed with herbs, spices, seeds or flowers. You can even brush with a little melted garlic butter – delicious served with a glass of chilled wine or on their own as a cheeky little snack.
semolina or polenta for sprinkling
350 g strong white bread flour
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon coarse sea salt
¾ teaspoon fast action dried yeast
1 teaspoon dried black peppercorns, lightly crushed (or 20 twists of black pepper)
2 tablespons extra virgin olive oil
scant 225 ml (8 fl oz) hand-hot water
sunflower oil, for oiling.
- Grease 2 flat baking sheets and sprinkle lightly with the semolina/ polenta
- Combine all the dry ingredients.
- Make a well in the centre and add the oil and water. Mix to a soft dough.
- Turn out onto an un-floured work surface and knead for 8 – 10 minutes until the dough is smooth and elastic.
- Oil a patch on the work surface or a smooth glass chopping board (if you have one). Stretch the dough carefully to cover the area of the board or works surface to make a large rectangle. Spread some olive oil over the surface of the dough and cover it with cling film/ a clean tea towel. Leave it to rest for an hour.
- Preheat the oven to gas mark 6/ 200° C/ 400° F.
- Using a sharp knife or a pizza wheel cut the rectangle in half and then divide the dough into 24 long thin strips.
- Using your fingers gently pull the strips one by one away from the main body of the rectangle and begin to form your grissini. Working from the middle outwards roll them into 28 cm (11″) lengths. Don’t worry if the dough is a bit soft or stretchy. Use some spare flour/ polenta/ semolina on the surface of the worktop to help you.
- Place your bread-sticks onto the baking sheets – ensure they don’t touch.
- Keep the dough you are not working with covered to stop it drying out. You will find the dough fairly stretchy and elastic but will feel a difference as you work.
- Be imaginative – roll your grissini into sticks, twist two together or plait them. cover them in seeds, cheese or garlic butter.
- Bake them for 18 – 20 minutes until crisp and golden. Thicker ones may need a little longer.
- Cool on a wire rack before eating.