Sunday, April 4, 2010

Ugly Grissini Sticks

Ugly Grissini Sticks
Home Cooking

When I was making a pizza dough starter for my Easter weekend pizza party and I wasn't sure if the first bowl was working. I decided to open a second sachet of yeast to double my chances. It so happened that both bowls started bubbling away. I didn't want to make 4 pizza bases so I started scouring around for a recipe I could use the yeast starter in.

I ended up following a recipe for Italian grissini sticks in Nick Malgieri's 'The Modern Baker'. This post is titled 'Ugly Grissini Sticks' because they are indeed hideous. I didn't put a lot of effort in rolling out the sticks of dough into nice, even cylinders and every flaw got exaggerated when they came out of the oven.

It is a relatively easy recipe to follow though (as long as you ignore any yeast-using fears) and the little sticks make a lovely snack or accompaniment to soups, dips or canape creations.

Italian Grissini Sticks
Makes 24 sticks

  • 2 cups plain flour
  • 3 and 1/2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil or lard (I used olive oil)
  • 1 tspn salt
  • 2 and 1/2 teaspoons (1 envelope i.e. 7g) active dry yeast
  • 1/3 cup warm water
  • 1/3 cup cold water

1. Combine the flour, oil and salt in a food processor. Pulse 10 to 15 times to incorporate the fat. 2. Whisk the yeast into the warm water. Add the mixture to the bowl. Pulse very quickly 2 to 3 times.3. Add the cold water. Pulse until the dough forms a ball. Pulse continuously 10 seconds.
4. Transfer dough to an oiled bowl, turning to coat all sides.
5. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let rise at room temperature until doubled (about 1 hour).
6. Scrape the dough onto a lightly floured work surface. Fold it over on itself several times to deflate.
6. Return dough to bowl and cover. Refrigerate dough 1 hour or up to 24 hours.
7. Set racks to upper and lower thirds of the oven and heat to 160 degrees Celsius. Line 2 trays with baking paper.
8. Remove dough from the refrigerator and scrape onto a floured work surface. Press the dough into a square. Cut into 4 smaller squares. Cut each of the squares into 6 equal strips.9. Roll each of the strips to make a thin strand about 30cm long (I made shorter ones) and set on a baking tray. (If the dough gets sticky, flour your hands.)10. Bake 12 minutes. Switch the trays for even cooking. Bake until evenly gold and crisp (another 10 minutes or so).
11. These are crunchy straight out of the oven so snack on a few straight away or wait for them to cool down before storing in an air-tight container.

As I said above, these aren't at all attractive but they are tasty little bread sticks. They are crunchy and surprisingly fragrant from the olive oil. I think they are addictive to munch on as is, or dunk in soup or your favorite dips. In Nick Malgieri's book, he suggests wrapping them in prosciutto as a simple canape.

Crunchy bite shot (well you can't see the crunch but take my word for it)

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