All the aroma and flavors of home baked bread need not be a chore. Consider this easy recipe for soft breadsticks.
Bread is the only food eaten by people of every race, culture and religion. Americans consume almost 60 pounds of bread a year per person and the number is still rising (no pun intended). Many artisan breads today don't use sugar or hydrogenated shortenings. Years ago sugar was added to a regular loaf of bread to increase production and shortenings were added to increase the shelf life of the bread.
Artisan Italian breads are very popular - from ciabatta breads to fougasse to foccacia, and don't forget grissini, the Italian breadstick. Generally speaking, there are two kinds of breadsticks, the soft, wide-cut variety and the long, thin crunchy type, both kinds being produced from the same recipe. Breadsticks can add flair and flavor to any breadbasket. I do appreciate a good soft breadstick topped with pesto and asiago or maybe a long thin crunchy breadstick wrapped with prosciutto and rolled in freshly grated Parmesan cheese, makes a great snack or appetizer.
The recipe for breadsticks is very easy to prepare and a lot of fun, too. Get the kids involved. The ingredients are simple: flour, water, yeast, salt and olive oil, that's it. The mixing time is short with a fermentation time of about 1 1/2 hours, then it's shaped and baked. Legend has it that whoever takes the last piece of bread has to kiss the cook! Happy Baking.
Certified Master Baker
Popovers on the Square
Bread Sticks (Grissini)
5 cups all-purpose flour
1 3/4 cup lukewarm water
2 teaspoons instant yeast (rapid rise) (can be added straight to the flour)
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 tablespoons olive oil
Combine flour, yeast and salt in a food processor and pulse a few times to combine.
Measure the correct amount of oil and water and add to dry ingredients.
Mix ingredients for about a minute and a half in the processor.
Lightly dust a mixing bowl with flour and place dough in bowl to ferment for about one and a half to two hours.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set oven at 350 degrees.
Divide dough into 4 pieces and keep un-used pieces of dough covered until needed.
Roll each strip of dough into a rectangle approximately 12 X 8 inches.
You will get about 16 thin strips or about 10 thicker strips of dough.
After all dough is shaped, garnish the tops with a little olive oil and coarse salt or whatever you prefer.
Bake at 350 degrees for about 25 minutes.
- Enjoy! Steve
This article appears in the January 2009 issue of New Hampshire Magazine