Socialite was invited to brunch on New Year’s Day. In our neck of the woods, you are often asked to “bring a plate” when you are invited to a social gathering. Don’t be fooled, it doesn’t mean your host doesn’t have enough dinnerware and you have to bring your own. No, you are expected to fill your plate with something edible to share. Now, Socialite is by no means a kitchen goddess, the less time she has to spend in the kitchen the better. To be honest, for her it would be easiest to nip down to the supermarket and buy something. But this is the crux, she rather spends her money on fashion and make-up than to buy classy food to share around. Unfortunately she is faced with a champagne taste on a beer budget. Luckily she found in one of her women’s magazines this simple recipe for Grissini to go with any dip. The name sounded intriguing, she tried it and loved it. Grissini is the Italian name for bread sticks, and by no means difficult to make. But as it is a yeast dough some rising time is involved. Socialite is certainly not known for her patience and it works in her favour that if you want the Grissinis to be crunchy, you shouldn’t let them rise too much. She finds the time the dough needs to rise is exactly the time she needs to make her dip, usually some sour cream based concoction with fresh herbs.
Needless to say, she gets a lot of praise for her bread sticks, otherwise she wouldn’t make them. The noble sounding name might have something to do with it. Don’t you dare to call her Grissini simply bread sticks. Ever!
3 cups of flour, 1 teaspoon of dry yeast, 1 generous cup of lukewarm water, 3 tablespoons of olive oil, pinch of salt if you wish. For the topping: water, mediterranean herbs and sesame or poppy seeds (optional).
Preheat oven to 2000C
Put flour into a bowl, make a well in the middle and pour in most of the water and add yeast. (I always keep some of the water and add later if needed). Let sit for 5 to 10 mins until the yeast has turned into sloshy foam. Add salt and oil and combine everything to an elastic dough, which will take approximately 5 minutes of kneading. In the process add the rest of the water if necessary. The dough should be dry and not sticky. Generally if you knead longer, the flour will absorb the excess water. If it really doesn’t happen add some more flour, but only then.
Put the dough in a bowl, cover with a tea towel and let rest in warm place for 5 to 10 minutes. Knead again and roll out to a rectangle of about half a centimeter thickness. Cut the rectangle into two halves and then into strips of 1 centimetre width. Take each of these strips and roll between your hands to round snakes. (The thinner you roll them, the crunchier they will get in the end. If you make them too thick, they will turn into oblong buns). Then place on a baking tray dusted with flour or on a silicon mat. It is a bit like a jig saw puzzle to place them well on the tray. Leave enough space between the individual pieces, as they will expand during baking. Most likely you will fill two trays.
In a cup or ramekin combine some water and herbs and brush the mixture on the snakes of dough. You might want to do half with herbs and water and brush the other half with water only and sprinkle poppy seeds and/or sesame seeds on the remaining sticks.
Bake in the oven for 15 minutes or until golden brown. If you want really crunchy ones, bake for a little longer.
Cool on a wire rack. Don’t let them cool down in a closed tin. When they cool, water is released, which will form condensation in the tin and make them really soft. Yuk.
Socialite ran out of time to do two trays. That is so typical for her. She didn’t want to waste the rest of the dough and packed it in cling film and chucked it in the fridge. Mouse saw that and mumbled: “I bet she hopes to score a date today. Then she can turn the dough into nice fresh buns tomorrow morning.” As Socialite was in a hurry and is not the most careful Dede by nature, Mouse thought she better check that she had packed the dough properly. It doesn’t need to be cling film, but it needs to be airtight, otherwise the dough will get a hard crust. The best is to pour a little olive oil in your clean hands and distribute it on the surface of the dough, then place it in an airtight container and in the fridge.