So today was the day where I experimented with making Grissini, or what we call Italian breadsticks.
It was pretty easy, and deliciously healthy. Of course, you have the option of eating it with cheese or any sort of dips. Tastes good any way you eat it. :)
I think they make pretty swell gifts too.
So, what would we need?
2 teaspoons dry yeast
250ml water and 1/4 cup water (in separate cups at room temperature)
500g plain flour, sifted with 1 teaspoon salt
40ml olive oil (I used extra virgin)
Coarse black pepper (OPTIONAL)
First of all, mix the 1/4 cup of water with the dry yeast. It will stink a little but that's just the yeast before it's mixed with the rest. After mixing, leave it in a corner somewhere (that's warm, preferably not in front of an air-cond or fan) until the mixture becomes frothy.
In your electric mixer's bowl, add the sifted flour/salt. Make a little well in the centre and pour in the activated yeast, olive oil and 250mls of water. Mix on a low speed until the dough sort of forms a smooth dough - this should probably take a few minutes. Don't leave the bowl unattended though. Be sure to keep watch on your dough's formation.
Once it has become a pretty smooth dough, remove it onto a very lightly floured board and knead, to form a ball. Knead and fold your dough for a while, about 2-3 minutes max. Place in an oiled bowl (I oiled it with a lil bit of olive oil), seal it with plastic wrap and let it rest in a warm spot until the dough doubles up in size. This would take approximately 45 minutes - 1 hour depending on how warm your kitchen is. Take this time to catch up on your TV series, then check back on your dough which should have doubled up by then.
This was my dough after 45 minutes. It had doubled up a lot.
Unwrap your dough and use your finger to press on the top. You should feel a very light, spongey texture.
That means your dough is ready to go.
My soft dough with marks from my prodding fingers.
Pour your dough out onto a board.
There are two ways of rolling out your Grissini. One's to pinch small bits of your dough and roll as you go.
As for me, I incorporated the method traditionally used by bakers.
I rolled the dough into a sort of rectangular shape and using a knife, I cut off pieces of the dough and pull it out, stretching it. Then i roll it on the board, like how I used to roll play dough to make snakes.
This will then form a sort of rolled shape on the Grissini, which I love.
I made some shorter, thicker, longer, and thinner than the rest. No two rolls look alike and I think it makes them look really interesting.
Also, if you want, you can make black pepper flavored breadsticks. All you have to do is to sprinkle coarse black pepper all over your dough and keep folding it in and sprinkling until the entire dough is covered with black pepper. I made the plain ones first before adding the black pepper. Remember that not all people fancy black pepper.
I personally think that black pepper adds an extra oomph to the Grissini.
Apart from black pepper, there are so many things you can add to breadsticks like grated parmesan, sugar, chopped olives, chilli flakes, etc. Let your imagination run wild. :)
Lay your rolled sticks onto a baking tray lined with your baking sheet.
Preheat your oven to 180°C/350°F. Pop your tray into the oven and bake for 20 minutes.
If your oven has an upper & lower option like mine does, bake your breadsticks for 20 minutes at the upper-lower setting, then for another 4-5 minutes with the upper setting. Every oven is different so I'd recommend you try baking a test batch before you proceed with more sticks. The baked sticks should feel light and snap off like a crunchy biscuit.
Once it's done, leave it to cool on the racks before proceeding to remove them from the baking sheets.
If the breadsticks are sticking to the sheets, use a little bit of water, dab it on the back of the sheet and slowly peel off. Don't forget to store them in an airtight container, otherwise they'll lose their crispiness.
My first batch of plain, thick breadsticks.
My second batch of black peppered sticks.
If needed, wrap it up with a ribbon (use your creativity) and give it as a present to a neighbour, your grandmother or whomever you feel like giving. Have fun with it!