Sunday, 1 September 2013

Italian grissini aka fancy bread sticks from episode 2

This week I chose to make fancy bread sticks which taste strongly of garlic, and have a hint of chilli and herbs. Do not make these if you don’t like garlic. I will be tasting garlic for weeks now thanks to these bready delights. The recipe said it makes 10-15 bread sticks but I made about 40. Not sure why this was, maybe the dough proved too much and got too big. Having not predicted that the recipe made enough bread sticks for every dinner party you might have for the next year, I bought one baking tray on the morning of the bake. This ended up being used twice along with a muffin tin, a roasting dish and a victoria sponge tin I turned upside down. Just to make things a bit more exciting, I had dough going in at intervals because I would create a tray, put it in the oven, then start filling another. This made the process into a kind of epic rotation with an endless stream of bread sticks coming out of the oven for half an hour. I felt like I was running some kind of bizarre bread stick restaurant. One thing is for sure,  I will not be opening a bread stick restaurant anytime soon.

You will need:

1 X 7g/⅛oz packet dried yeast
1 tsp sugar
500g/1lb 2oz plain white bread flour, plus extra for flouring
1 tbsp olive oil, plus extra for oiling
1 tsp sea salt
5 tbsp grated parmesan (or similar vegetarian cheese)
1 heaped tsp blue cheese
3 tsp Italian seasoning 
3 tsp garlic powder
2 tbsp chopped jalapeños, from a jar
1 free-range egg 

For the rub

50g/1¾oz grated parmesan (or similar vegetarian hard cheese)
2 tbsp garlic powder
1 tsp Italian seasoning
2 tsp jalapeño chilli powder

I could not find jalapeños in a jar so these were not in my recipe. Firstly, I added yeast and sugar to warm water and whisked in 75g of flour. I left this for ten minutes, for the yeast to ‘activate’. When the mixture develops a robotic voice and says “Yeast. Activated” then it is done.

I then added the oil and mixed. Then I gradually added the remaining flour, salt, cheeses, Italian seasons, and the garlic powder (I used granules) until it was well mixed. Although a substantial amount of cheese goes into this recipe you will find that there is no taste of cheese in the finished bread sticks. It is very odd. 

At this point you get the dough out of the bowl and knead for 5-8mins on an oiled surface. The texture of the dough was very dry at first and it wouldn’t pick up all the flour or cheese I had added, but once I started to knead on the oiled surface it became very greasy so I kept adding the flour and cheese left in the bowl. It was at this point that I knew these bread sticks were not going to be a huge success. 

Once kneaded, I left the dough in an oiled bowl for 30mins. 

And it grew....magic! Bread is literally magic.

Oven at 190C (or I did 175C for the fan oven). The recipe says oil and flour at least two baking trays and this actually means at least five. Note: using a muffin tin is a silly idea because the sticks come out looking like very wiggly walking sticks.

Combine all the rub ingredients in a bowl.

Then I rolled out the dough until it was 28cm long using my expert measuring eye. No rulers needed for me! I then rubbed egg yolk all over the top of the dough with my fingers and sprinkled the rub. I then pressed it in a bit. 

Next I got out a pizza cutter which seemed fun for about two seconds until I realised I had not oiled the surface again and the dough was completely stuck. It took me a while to prise the creepily soft dough off the surface but I managed it, oiled the surface and started cutting out strips again. Bready crisis averted.

Once you have some strips of dough you twist them into a spiral and place onto a baking tray/muffin tin/sponge tin/roasting tin. I now have bare respect for the bakers on the programme because I will never understand how they got their sticks all the same size and shape. The minute you twist the dough it gets longer and the ends get fatter. I am happy with the rustic look but here are my first few bread sticks. They look like tape worms or whichever worms look like this and live in your intestines. 

Here is the first tray I put into the oven. Pretty good I thought.

The dough never ended!! I had to find more trays and the hectic bread stick restaurant became a reality with me constantly putting bread sticks in the oven and taking them out every few minutes. I feel a little riled just writing about it. This was THE most hectic baking experience I have ever had the pleasure to carry out, not helped when my aunty phoned half way through the drama to tell me she couldn’t arrange some work experience for me. I had a tray of bread sticks in one hand and the phone in the other and I thought this must be what it is like to be a stressed parent juggling five children, except I had five trays of bread sticks and they all needed to come out of the oven at different times. I had an early life, bread related crisis. Maybe, just maybe, a career in law would be better suited to someone who can handle five trays of bread sticks. 

Bread sticks as far as the eye can see
In the end, one tray of bread sticks were perfectly cooked and the rest were a bit overdone. If your bread sticks are any darker than golden brown they will taste quite bitter. Here is the worst stick of the lot. It looks like a poisonous snake.

Here is Jessie eating the bread stick. She thought it was the best one - shows what she knows.

Here are my millions of bread sticks.

Uh oh.


To conclude, bread sticks are more hassle then they are worth. If you do make them here is a handy tip: put all your bread sticks in the oven at the same time to avoid a mental breaddown and bread related therapy for months to come.


  1. Reading this on my lunch break, laughing so hard colleges are looking at me. Such a good blog! Loving the mention mum got.