When thinking about breadsticks, the first thing that comes to my mind is the soft breadsticks that they serve at the Italian restaurants. My family is greatly addicted to the breadsticks that they serve at Olive Garden that I ended up making my own at home to enjoy often. When reading about this particular recipe, Grissini, I came to know that this is how the traditional Italian breadsticks look.
Grissinis are these long, twisted and crispy breadsticks often studded with sesame seeds that are enjoyed as an appetizer with a bowl of soup or wine or as a snack. Just reading about the breadsticks, I was thinking more like the tiny breadsticks that they serve at restaurants in India along with soup. But these Grissinis were long and very flavorful when compared to those.
A little history before we get to the actual recipe of the Grissini. Grissini originated in the Turin/Torino region of Northwest Italy. It was invented around the end of the 17th century by a baker in Turin to help the Young duke who had trouble digesting food. The court doctors had asked the baker, Antonio Brunero to create something that the young duke could digest. He used the Ghersa dough ( a thin bread of Italy) to stretch out and make these breadsticks, called the ‘Ghersino’. Later the Ghersino became the ‘Grissini’.
Grissinis are of two kind, Grissini Stirato (Straight Grissini) and the Grissini Rubata (Rolled Grissini). There are many flavorings and variations that we can make with the same dough to make different varieties of grissini. We can make the Grissini very thin and crisp or slightly thicker and softer. The original Torinese Grissini is hand made and slightly thicker and on the softer side.
The Grissini can be made a few different ways. They could be made by pinching off tiny pieces of dough and then rolling them out to form a thin ropes. These ropes can be left as is or twisted a bit to give a shape. The other way, which I adopted is to roll the dough into a rectangle and then cutting off strips of dough which are then rolled to form a twisted rope.
The dough to make the grissini is pretty basic and is made with flour, yeast, salt, water (or sometimes milk) and some oil. The sesame seeds are optional and I used both the black and white seeds to give some color to the bread. The bread is very fun to make and will make for a great baking project with children.
My other bakes in the A – Z Baking around the World Marathon –
A for Almond cookies from China
B for Bretzel Rolls from Germany
D for Danish Cookies from Denmark
E for Empanada from Argentina
F for Franzbrötchen from Germany
Preparation time – 20 minutes plus about 2 hours of resting time
Baking time – 12 – 14 minutes per batch
Difficulty level – intermediate
Recipe adapted from – King Arthur Flour
Ingredients to make Grissini – Makes about 16 , 8 inch long Grissinis
- All Purpose flour – 1 1/2 cups
- Milk powder – 1/2 tbsp
- Instant yeast – 1 tsp
- Sugar – 1 tsp
- Salt – 3/4 tsp
- Olive oil – 1 tbsp
- Water (lukewarm) – 1/3 cup (might need a little more or less)
- Milk – for brushing the rolls
- Sesame seeds (white and black) – for garnish
Procedure to make Grissini –
To make the Dough –
- Combine the dry ingredients (flour, yeast, sugar, salt and milk powder) in the bowl of the mixer.
- Add the olive oil and the lukewarm water to the dry ingredients with the machine running and mix to form a soft dough. Add the water slowly to make sure we don’t add too much.
- Knead the dough using the hook attachment until a very soft dough forms which starts pulling out from the sides of the bowl (about 8-10 minutes). The dough will be tacky, but will not be sticky.
- Transfer the dough to a greased container. Cover it with plastic wrap and then a kitchen towel and keep it in a draft free place to proof (about 1 – 1 1/2 hours).
To shape the Dough –
- Once the dough has risen, place it on the work surface and punch it down a bit to get rid of excess air.
- Using a rolling pin, roll the dough into a 9 x 13 rectangle. Try to keep the edges neat when rolling the dough and also try to keep it even in thickness.
- Brush the surface of the dough with milk.
- Sprinkle the sesame seeds evenly through the rectangle. Lightly roll the rolling pin over the seeds for them to stick to the dough. If you are not a big fan of seeds, feel free to leave them out.
- Using a pizza cutter, cut out about 16 strips from the dough. I marked my strips lightly and then made the final cut to keep them as even as possible. This helps in even baking.
- Now take each strip and give it a quick twist all along and place them in a parchment lined baking sheet. Repeat with all the strips and place them slightly spaced in the baking sheet.
- Cover with greased plastic sheet and let it rise again for about 45 minutes to an hour or until they are puffy.
Baking the Grissini –
- Preheat the oven to 425 F.
- Place the baking sheet in the middle rack of the oven. Bake for 12 to 14 minutes or until they are golden.
- Let them cool a bit and then enjoy!
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