Grissini are those thin, crisp, irresistible breadsticks that are always found in the center of the table in Italian restaurants, giving all the chance to munch on something while they contemplate the menu. Breadsticks are made of flour, water, yeast, salt and olive oil, and sometimes even with left-over bread dough. They are shaped and stretched by hand, so no rolling pin is required. Working them by hand, gives them that signature irregular, pencil-thin and rustic shape and that crunchy, delicious texture.
These thin and crispy sesame seed breadsticks are easy to make, especially if you have a stand mixer or a food processor which makes the dough mixing a cinch. I usually make the whole recipe, but only use half of the dough and freeze the rest to use at a later time. Half of the dough makes two trays of breadsticks, which is about 30-35 breadsticks, depending on the length and thickness desired.
Grissini are an indispensable part of every antipasto platter, as they pair so well with prosciutto, salami, all sorts of Italian cheeses, olives, fresh fruits and nuts. The basic version of this recipe originates from Turin in northern Italy (grissini Torinesi) and they are typically as long as the length of an arm! In the Sicilian version, the breadsticks are rolled in sesame seeds and coarse sea salt. They can also be rolled in poppy seeds (or fennel seeds) and often dried sage is added to the dough for extra flavor. The recipe can easily be adapted to individual tastes and preferences, but no matter what the version, these grissini are going to be a lovely addition to your next gathering–and will disappear fast!
- 2¼ tsp. active dry yeast (one packet)
- 1 cup lukewarm water
- 1 tsp.honey
- 3½-4 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 tsp sea salt
- ¼ cup olive oil
- --- durum wheat semolina flour
- --- sesame seeds
- --- coarse sea salt
- In a two-cup measuring cup, dissolve the yeast in the water, add the honey and let stand for 5 minutes until frothy. In the bowl of a stand mixer equipped with a hook, stir together 3½ cups of the flour and the salt. Add the yeast mixture and the olive oil to the flour mixture and process until the dough comes together in a ball. If the dough is too wet add the remaining ½ flour, one tablespoon at a time. The dough should feel smooth and elastic. Cover the dough with a plastic wrap and let it rise for an hour.
- Preheat the oven to 400° F.
- Punch down the dough and cut it into two parts. Place one part in a re-sealable bag and refrigerate or freeze for future use. Turn out the second half of the dough onto a lightly - floured surface. Cut it in half and then cut the first half into 15-18 pieces. Working with one half at a time, and using your palms, roll out each piece and stretch it to form a very thin rope about 10” long.
- Line two rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper and sprinkle with some semolina flour.
- In a work surface, spread some sesame seeds and coarse sea salt and roll each of the “ropes” of dough on it, pressing gently until lightly coated with the seeds and the salt. Place them on the baking sheets and bake until crisp, for about 11-12 minutes. The longer you bake them the crunchier they become.
- The grissini can be stored at room temperature for a couple of days and in an airtight container at room temperature for a week, however, they will become softer if stored this way.
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