I want to share with you my latest realisation. And at the same time my proudest one ever probably!
I’m eternally thankful to Eleonora from Aglio, Olio & Peperoncino.
Her recipe made me create these faultless perfect little bread sticks, aka world famous Grissini. The Italian bread stick you get in pretty much every standard Italian restaurant.
Everybody knows the breadbasket with some pieces of plain bread and then a pack or two of grissini.
When you are starving, or not even starving just waiting for your food and nibbling away, these are very addictive. You can keep on eating them one pack after the other. By the time your food arrives you end up with a pile of plastic that has this horrible consistency of not just lying flat on your table when you fold it. It always returns to its original form. I believe the technical term for this is shape plastic memory. They frustrate me to hell. Besides it’s a proof of how quickly we accumulate garbage.
So I’m totally against those grissini. Plus these mass production grissini taste like salty chemicals. They are only there to make you thirsty and order more drinks.
Then you have the odd restaurants that serve artisanal grissini which are way better and environmental friendly. But the best ones I had so far were from a tiny bakery in Santa Margherita, Liguria, Italy. They sell them by the dozen. They are funny shaped and extremely long, some of them up to 60-70cm. They have a selection of sesame, plain, rosemary, salt… They are delicious!
But… even these from a professional artisanal Italian panficio are nothing, I repeat absolutely nothing compared to mine!
Normally these homemade things without additives are delicious fresh but not when they are a couple of weeks old even though you keep them in a airtight container. At least this is what happens with the ones from the bakery in Santa Margherita. If you didn’t devour them the same day you bought them; the next day you would have something chewy and the day after you would have nothing but stale grissini. Heating them in the oven did help to bring back the flavours and crunch.
I always told myself this is a good sign. This means there are no preservatives. But here I am now with homemade grissini no preservatives and crunch crunchier crunchiest after days, weeks, (months perhaps)!!!
Thank you Eleonora! Just one question though. Why on earth do you make the recipe with such giant quantities?
I used a fifth of your quantities and already ended up with over 100 grissini!
Makes 100 grissini or more
1kg white flour
600ml cold water
15gr of yeast
60gr of lard
1tablespoon of dark sugar syrup
1tablespoon of salt
Mix flour and salt in a large bowl. Take half of the water and dissolve the yeast in it. Make a hole in the middle of the flour. Add the malt, the lard and the dissolved yeast. Slowly incorporate the flour into this mixture. Once you have in the center of your flour bowl a sticky dough mixture gradually add the rest of the water and continue incorporating the flour. Add a little more water if necessary. It shouldn’t be to dry. But it should be firm enough to hold its own shape.
Knead thoroughly for at least ten minutes to get the yeast and gluten working.
Roll the greasy dough into long strands about 5 cm wide and the length of your oven plate.
Grease them with olive oil. Cover with plastic wrap or a towel and let it rise in a drought free place for a couple of hours until doubled in size.
Once this is done get an oven plate and line with baking paper.
Take a strand and cut it lengthwise into thin strips about 5mm wide. The easiest way is to use a pizza wheel. Roll your strips into your topping of choice. And place on the baking paper.
Toppings I used:
Gomasio (roasted sesame seed and sea salt, really nice!)
Crushed dried sage leaves
Crushed fennel seeds
Bake for 12-18 minutes in a preheated oven of 160°C. The timing can be tricky. You need to find the right balance between baking it all the way through so it’s crunchy all the way through and not getting it burned on the thinner parts.
It took me a while to get the hand of it but 12 minutes are perfect I figured out for my oven. Try out yours and let me know your timing!