The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Italian Bread Sticks

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DonD

Setting:


'Snowmageddon 2010', end of Round 1, waiting for Round 2. Between 10 to 20 additional inches of snow expected by tomorrow. We are digging out and digging in. It gives me a chance to try something new.



Background:


'Obelisk' is an excellent Italian Restaurant in Washington DC. The Chef/Owner, Peter Pastan is a brilliant self-taught Chef who has traveled extensively throughout Italy to bring back the authentic, simple and pure dishes of regional Italian Cuisine. I have had many memorable meals there and the one that stood out the most was a special 9-course dinner that he cooked for a group of us using a half a dozen different kind of wild mushooms that we had picked that day. He always serves homemade breads, beautiful Ciabattas, Focaccias, Tuscan Loaves, Dark Sourdough Whole Wheat Walnut Breads and his signature 24 inch long Grissini that he learned to make during a week-long stint in an Italian Bakery. Many times when we were the last diners of the evening, Peter would give us all the leftover Grissini which were always prominently displayed in a tall ceramic vessel on the serving table in the middle of the dining room. They would be great with a Capucchino the next morning. The long and slender amber colored sticks, dusted with semolina were crunchy with a slightly soft core and tasted nutty, slightly yeasty with a nice balance of saltiness and caramelly sweetness.


Recently, in the Food Section of the Washington Post, there was an article about local Chefs making their own Breads and Peter was featured with the recipe for his famous Grissini. I was thrilled that finally I would be able to duplicate those delicious breadsticks.


Peter Pastan's Recipe:


- 1 Cup Warm Water (90 degrees)


- 2 Tbs Active Dry Yeast


- 1 Tb EVOO, plus more for greasing the dough


- 1 Tb Honey


- 1 Tsp Salt


- 2 Cups Flour, plus more for the work surface


- Semolina for forming the Breadsticks


My Variations:


While mixing the dough, I had to add more Flour to get the right workable consistency so I also added a little more salt.  From my taste memory, I detected a touch of Baking Powder. I thought that the amount of Yeast would be too much so I reduced it slightly. Essentially, I followed the recipe except for the following variations:


I used 2 1/2 Cups KA AP Flour, 1 Tb Instant Yeast, 1 1/4 Tsp Grey Sea Salt and added 1 Tsp Baking Powder.


Procedures:


Combine Water, Yeast, Oil, Honey, Baking Powder and Salt and mix with Flour in a stand mixer using the paddle attachment. Beat at medium speed for 5-6 minutes until dough is smooth and supple. Transfer dough to floured work surface, do one french fold and roll out dough to a rectangle 6"W X 16L".



Transfer dough to an oiled baking sheet, brush oil on top, cover in plastic wrap and let rise for 30 minutes. Dust top with Semolina and sprinkle liberally on side of baking sheet. Using a 6-inch dough scraper, cut 1/2 inch  thick strips of dough, roll in Semolina and transfer to parchment paper stretching dough to about 14" long.



The original recipe calls for baking temperature of 450 degress for 12-15 minutes but I baked mine on a baking stone in a 400 degrees preheated oven for 10 minutes.



   


I was quite pleased with the results. They tasted pretty close to the original version.


Happy Baking!


Don

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