Afraid to bake because you think you’ll mess it up? Grab a copy of blogger-turned-cookbook author Charmian Christie’s The Messy Baker and break out that flour. Whether you’re a shaky-handed cake fiend or a pie lover who just can’t seem to make an aesthetically pleasing pastry, there’s a recipe in here for you. First up, Italian breadsticks — grissini — that actually look better a little malformed.
These long, thin, crunchy breadsticks appeal to the child in me. I love how they snap when bitten and release their olive undertone. Even more, I love to play with them. Use them instead of a spoon to stir creme fraiche into your soup. Turn them into edible chopsticks and devour some roasted cauliflower or challenge your fellow diners to a grissini duel. The winner gets all the breadsticks.
- 1 cup warm water (about 110°F)
- 2 1/2 cups bread flour
- 1 package (2 1/4 teaspoons) instant yeast
- 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 1/4 cup black olive paste (see tip below)
- 3 tablespoons fresh rosemary, minced
- Either by hand in a large bowl or in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook, mix the water, flour, yeast, salt, olive paste and rosemary.
- When the dough comes together, turn it onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic. The dough will be slightly oily because of the olive paste.
- Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and let stand at room temperature until doubled in volume (60 to 90 minutes).
- Preheat the oven to 375°F.
- If your oven has a convection setting, place 3 racks in the oven and adjust the temperature according to your oven's requirements. Otherwise, place a rack in the center and bake 1 pan at a time.
- Line 4 baking sheets with parchment paper. If you don't have enough pans, cut at least 4 sheets of parchment so you have something to set the cut dough on.
- On a lightly greased work surface, roll the dough to a rectangle about 20 inches by 12 inches. The dough will be very easy to roll.
- Using a sharp knife or pizza cutter, cut the dough so you have strips that are 10 inches long and 1/4 inch wide.
- Gently roll each breadstick beneath your palms to round the edges. If you like a twist in your breadstick, roll the ends in opposite directions.
- Place the sticks on the baking sheets (or just on parchment paper if you don't have enough baking sheets) at least 1/4-inch apart.
- Cover with a tea towel and let rest for 30 minutes.
- Bake for 15 to 18 minutes, or until crisp and golden brown.
- Allow to cool on the baking sheets for a few minutes before transferring to racks to cool completely. Grissini will keep in an airtight container for several days. Just keep the humidity away.
Tip: If you don't have black olive paste, you can make your own with pitted black olives such as kalamata, packed in oil. Remove the olives from the oil using a slotted spoon; place the olives in a blender and purée to a paste.
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