Let’s talk about grissini, or bread-sticks, and I do not mean the anemic pencils that come in a sealed bag that one is offered in an Italian restaurant. How can anything that has a use-by date 1 year down the line, be called food.
In Italy there are many independent supermarkets, and in these one can happen upon amazing food. So it was several years ago that we went to such a supermarket and there on the deli counter was this basket of proper grissini that had been baked that morning. There were 2 types on offer, green olive and walnut. We bought some to go with our lunch, and they were a revelation. Absolutely no comparison with the industrial stuff offered in a restaurant. They were lumpy and miss-shapen and they had been crafted by hand.
They are simplicity to make and they do not dissolve in your mouth and clog up your teeth either. The beauty of it is that once you make some it is very easy to make more with different flavours and textures. I guarantee that you will not be disappointed
This recipe makes between 15 and 20 depending how thick you make them, and the instructions are for the full kneading method, however if you have a bread making machine, as I have then just put everything in the bowl and select a dough programme, and do something else while it is working.
Preparation time about 2 hours (but most of that is waiting for the dough to rise) and cooking time 20 to 25 minutes
225 gm/8 oz/2 cups bread flour (all white or 1/3rd wholemeal:2/3rds white)
2.5 ml/1/2 teaspoon salt
15 gm/ 1/2 oz yeast or half sachet dried yeast
135 ml/4 1/2 fl oz/scant 2/3 rds cup warm water
30 ml/2 tablespoons olive oil
green olives roughly chopped
In a jug, cream the yeast with the water.
Sift the flour and salt together. Pour the water and yeast in to the middle of the flour, add the oil and mix to a soft dough.
Knead on a floured surface for about 5 or 6 minutes and then put it into a bowl, lightly oiling the surface, cover and leave to rise for an hour in a warm place.
While the dough is rising chop the olives.
Using a sharp knife, cut the dough in 2, and then roll each out into a rectangular shape about 12 mm/ half inch thick.
Cut into lengths 12 mm/half inch wide. Roll each piece with a rolling pin so that it is about 30 cm/12 inches long and about 3 mm/ 1/8 inch thick.
Taking each rolled piece, drizzle pieces of walnut or olive pieces along the length
and then carefully roll up the pastry across the width enclosing the filling, and sealing the gap.
Place seam side down on a baking tray that has either been oiled or has parchment on it. Do the rest and then lightly brush them with oil and leave them covered in a warm place for 30 minutes.
Bake for 20 to 25 minutes in a pre-warmed oven set at 200 C/400 F/Gas 6/Moderate to moderate hot oven. They need to be baked until they have a crust but not crisp all the way through. When they are baked cool them on a rack.
These can also be made plain, or with seeds of your choice (sesame, caraway or whatever takes your fancy)