Everyone I know loves bread sticks – the kind that sit on the table at your favorite Italian restaurant, daring you to resist them. The Italians call them grissini. The crisp, flavorful restaurant version is delicious. The ones wrapped in cellophane or boxed at the grocery store are usually stale and loaded with preservatives. Then why not make your own? They are very easy to whip up, and the only downside – at least for me – is that I can eat the whole batch by myself before anyone else gets a chance.
This recipe comes from the King Arthur Flour Baker’s Companion (The Countryman Press, Woodstock, Vermont). It may be the only book you will ever need for bread baking. It tells you all about flour, other ingredients, and baking utensils, along with easy-to-follow, well-tested recipes for bread and baked goods. If you don’t have a copy, you should consider getting one. At least thumb through one in the cookbook section of your local book store. You can order it online for $29.95.
- 2½ cups all-purpose flour
- 1½ teaspoons dry yeast
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 3 tablespoons non-fat dry milk
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 7/8 to 1 1/8 cup water*
- 1 egg white whisked with 1 tablespoon water
- poppy seeds
- kosher salt (optional)
- In a very large bowl, combine the flour, yeast, salt, dry milk, oil, and water. Stir with a large wooden spoon until the mixture is well combined. Then knead in the bowl using your hands until the dough is soft and smooth. If it is sticky, sprinkle in a tablespoon of flour. If it is too stiff, add more water by teaspoonfuls, kneading after each addition. Clean the bowl with water and dry. Return the dough to the bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let rise until doubled in volume, about 1 to 1½ hours.
- Transfer the risen dough to a lightly oiled work surface and roll it into a square about 14 x 14 inches. Brush the top of the dough with the egg mixture and lightly sprinkle with poppy sees and, if desired, the optional kosher salt. Press the seeds into the dough by lightly rolling with the rolling pin.
- Using a pizza wheel, cut the dough into ½ inch strips. Transfer the strips to parchment-lined cookie sheets. Lift the strips from both ends as they will stretch as you lift them. Cover with a kitchen towel and let rest for 30 minutes.
- Place the cookie sheets in the middle of an oven preheated to 425°F. Bake for 10 minutes or until golden brown. Watch carefully during the baking, as the grissini burn easily. Transfer to a cooling rack. Serve or store in an air-tight container when the grissini are completely cool.