Guest Chef: Bread Sticks (Grissini)

The other night, I come home to find my 16-year-old stepson RJ making bread sticks. He’s always had an interest in cooking and baking, and he’s not half bad! He’s even enrolled in the culinary academy at his high school. One graduation requirement is to conduct 20 hours of community service. “He’s doing this for community service hours credit,” my husband says. “Nice. Who are you making the bread sticks for?” I asked thinking they must be for the homeless shelter or something like that. “No one. I’m just making them,” he replies. Cooking something and showing pictures to the school counts for 2 hours towards his community service requirement. I still don’t understand why that counts as community service, but who am I to judge? In any case, our family got a great new recipe. They turned out great and go well with a pasta dish or a big salad.

I have several very old cookbooks, and my stepson took this recipe from A World of Breads by Dolores Casella published in 1966! The recipe is titled Grissini (Bread Sticks). He had to adapt the recipe a little, but here’s the way he made them:

Ingredients

  • 2 1/4 teaspoon dry active yeast
  • 1/4 cup warm water
  • 1 cup milk, scalded and cooled
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoons salt
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 3/4 cup warm water
  • 6 cups flour
  • oil, for brushing baking sheets
  • 1 egg white, for brushing tops of bread sticks
  • topping options: garlic salt, poppy seeds, sesame seeds, or sea salt

Procedure

  1. Dissolve the yeast in 1/4 cup warm water.
  2. Pour the milk into a large bowl and add the sugar, salt, butter, and 3/4 cup warm water. Cool until lukewarm and add the yeast mixture. Slowly stir in half the flour. Beat until smooth, and then add the rest of the flour. Combine thoroughly.
  3. Turn out onto a lightly floured board and knead until smooth and elastic. Shape into a ball, place in a buttered bowl, cover, and let rise until doubled.
  4. Punch down dough. Turn out onto a floured board again, and roll to a thickness of approximately 1/2 inch. Cut into long strips and roll so that each will be long and pencil-like.
  5. Place on an oiled cookie sheet, cover, and let rise again until doubled.
  6. Preheat the oven to 425.
  7. Brush with egg whites and sprinkle with garlic salt.
  8. Bake for 15 minutes or until brown. Enjoy!

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