Crunch. Crunch, crunch. Shnomf, munch, crinchety-cronch. Mmm. Pass me another?
These, my friends, are the thin, crunchy, Italian breadsticks known as grissini. A couple of weekends ago Adam and I spent an afternoon making sixty some-odd crunchy breadsticks for a dinner party we were going to that evening. No, I did not notice before we started that the recipe made 16 per portion of dough and therefore 16 x 4 = SIXTY FOUR. Heh.
But you know what? Between the 8 of us, we ate all of them. After a totally delicious meal of insalata caprese, goat cheese and portabello salad, eggplant Parmesan and cherry clafoutis, I looked over at the grissini platter and there were only 3 (!) left.
It stands to reason, then, that you should make these for your next party. I found them via Nick over at Macheesmo, who added a little whole wheat flour to the original recipe, but you don't need to. I used regular old all purpose flour and I was very happy with the results. If you play around with the toppings (cheese? chili powder? fennel seeds?) or flour (rye sticks with caraway seeds?) let us know in the comments, ok?
Oh what was that other thing I mentioned in the title? Riiight: giveaway! I'm moving into a new apartment in a month, and I'm trying to lighten my very heavy load of books. I thought you guys might appreciate some of the food-related novels and such so let's begin the giveaways with this one:
Have you read Julie and Julia yet? The movie's coming out at the beginning of August, so you better hop to it! If you'd like this copy, leave a comment on this post any time before midnight on Sunday, July 6. I'll pick a winner at random on Monday. Oh, and if you just cannot wait another minute to find out what other books I'll be giving away, you could sneak over to my Flickr photos. [Update: winner has been selected! Check it out here.]
623 g flour (about 5 1/2 cups)
397 g water at room temperature (scant two cups)
6.5 g (2 t.) instant yeast
9 g (1.5 t.) salt
28 g (2 T.) olive oil
kosher salt and coarsely ground black pepper
Combine the yeast, salt, and flour in a large bowl. Combine the water and olive oil in a small bowl or liquid measuring cup. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir with a wooden spoon to combine. Eventually you will need to use your hands, and once a shaggy dough has formed, turn it out onto a floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic, 5-10 minutes. I added probably another 1/4 cup of flour total as I was kneading to keep my dough from sticking to the board.
Lightly oil the mixing bowl (no real need to wash it at this point) and place the dough in the lightly oiled bowl. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and allow to rise at room temperature until doubled in volume, 1.5-2 hours.
Once the dough has doubled, preheat the oven o 350F. Line a baking sheet (or two if you have them) with parchment. Divide the dough into four equal pieces. Start with one piece and keep the others covered. Flour a work surface and roll the dough into an approximately 12x8 inch rectangle (no need to bust out the ruler here!). Using a pizza cutter, slice the dough rectangle into 16 equal strips. Fold each strip in half the long way (they go from 8 inches long to four inches long) and roll them out into long snakes on an UNFLOURED surface. It has to be unfloured, they need a little stickiness in order to come together and stretch out. Each snake should be a little longer than your baking sheet.
Distribute the snakes evenly across your baking sheets. Lightly brush them with olive oil and sprinkle liberally with salt and pepper. Roll them around a little to catch the salt and pepper around them. Bake at 350 for 25-30 minutes until golden; if you think of it, rotate the sheets once while baking. Cool the grissini on a wire rack - the crunch develops as they cool! Repeat with the other 3 portions of dough as baking sheets become available.