After a brief trip to visit the grandparents in Italy this summer, the boys were introduced to grissini, a thin Italian breadstick that were enjoyed during that very special time of day, aperitivo. There is not much that can beat that enticing hour spent with a negroni, snacks, warm sun and the salty air of the Adriatic coast. As a nod to the memory of the Adriatic, albeit without the holiday, sun or a negroni, we sometimes make grissini. While it is not the same, a London home smelling of freshly baked crispy bread does provide for a comforting treat.
My parents have spent a week with us in London and along with a helping hand in looking after the boys, my parents have brought some grissini for them, and being the carbivores that they are, the boys have become addicted.
Both boys enjoyed making these. The grissini baking allowed Little Boy Green to show off his skills and experience as a baker, and showcased Baby Green’s budding talents as a madman, covered in dough and flour in a carefree, nonchalant and utterly convinced manner, seemingly broadcasting his delight at being allowed to do the same thing as Little Boy Green. The strips of dough that are used to make these are easy for little fingers to handle, the time it takes for them to go from risen dough to baked breadstick is minimal and they can be enjoyed almost immediately from when taken out of the oven. We also made crackers out of the same dough using cookie cutters. You can add pretty much any flavour you want to, and could give these a savoury or a slightly sweeter note by adding other herbs or spices (think chilli and paprika), raisins or lemon zest, or anything else you fancied. I’d generally keep the additions to dry ingredients to not mess with the crunch – that’s the main attraction at least for our boys.
I used a basic bread recipe, but switched the proportions of wholemeal to white flours assuming that a better crunch would be achieved through using more white flour. The rosemary we used came from our garden which made the experience all the more rewarding for the boys – there is a definite from our garden to our table thing going on that the boys really enjoy.
We are pretty confident that this can become more of a regular affair and we intend to experiment with alternative flavours. For the next time, we are planning to include seeds such as caraway, sesame or poppy, and a sprinkling of sea salt, back pepper, or chilli flakes.
- 200g white flour
- 100g wholewheat flour
- 200ml warm water
- 2 tsp of active-dry yeast
- 1 tsp sugar
- 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 tbsp chopped fresh rosemary
- Preheat oven to 200C.
- Place the wholemeal flour, water, sugar and yeast in the bowl of a stand mixer, or in a large bowl if making by hand and mix well to combine. Allow the yeast to dissolve and for the mixture to become a little frothy, aprox. 10 min.
- Add the flour, salt and olive oil to the yeast mixture and begin to kneed with the dough hook. If making by hand, then rub your hands with some olive oil and gently kneed the dough. Kneed for a good 5 - 10 min so that the dough is shiny and elastic in texture. If too sticky to handle, sprinkle with a little flour. Cover the bowl with cling film and allow the dough to rise for at least an hour or until it has doubled in size.
- Oil your hands, add the chopped rosemary and kneed the dough for a couple of minutes and then divide the dough in two. Roll into two thin sheets similar to a pizza base. I use silicon baking sheets and like to roll my dough out directly onto them. Using a knife, slice the dough into strips roughly the size of fettucine pasta, twist slightly and leave to rise on the baking sheets for 10 min.
- I’d like to give an exact baking time, but it really depends on how thick the breadsticks are. In my experience there is little consistency in size and shape, but they do cook in under 15 min. I set the timer for 10 minutes and then check every minute thereafter. We don’t mind them to be slightly burned on the edges, in fact, we kind of prefer them that way.
- They should keep in an airtight container for up to a week, but we have yet to get past day 2.