Grissini is a specialty of the Piedmonte region of Italy.
Yesterday I made grissini at home. Why? Well, because when organizing my recipe files a few days earlier, I found my old breadstick recipe from the time I spent living and studying in Costigliole d’Asti, Italy.
Costigliole d’ Asti is a small and very beautiful wine-producing region outside the larger town of Asti in the Piedmonte region of Italy. Asti and this region are also well known for their Sparkling Wine production, the most famous being Asti Spumante.
Grissini and “Miami Manatee
Grissini also reminds me of Miami as strange as that might seem. Costiglioli d’Asti, Italy to Miami, Florida? Yes! I worked once as a morning baker for Big Fish Restaurant in downtown Miami on the Miami River. This was an early morning job. I was the only one there along with a Cuban gentleman that cleaned and organized the restaurant. Every morning around 9 am to 9:30 am my Cuban friend and I took a coffee break. He would make a nice strong cafecito which is basically a sweet espresso and I often would bring some of the freshly baked grissini that I would be making. We would sit outside along the Miami River and watch the morning unfold. At this time in the morning, the river was very still and the sun would be gently glistening off the water.
Manatees would swim right up to the side of the restaurant which was only a few feet from the river’s edge. It doesn’t get more Miami than this. We would break up a few heads of lettuce and toss them into the river and watch the manatees bob up and down and eat. These gentle sea creatures would appear every morning. I guess they looked forward to seeing us just as much as we looked forward to seeing them each morning. This memory always comes to my mind when making grissini.
Summer in The City
Now let’s fast forward to yesterday in New York City. It was a hot day in NYC and finding my old grissini recipe brought me back to this golden cooking moment and memory from my culinary career. So, I figured why not share is this cooking memory with others.
I made the recipe as well yesterday and the grissini were just as great as I remembered them to be. Unfortunately, minus the palm trees and friendly Manatees!
- 500 grams or 1lb-2ounces or 4cups, all-purpose flour
- 10 grams or ¼ ounce, kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon, sugar
- 15grams, fresh yeast or 2 teaspoons active dry yeast
- 2 tablespoons, Olive Oil (Extra Virgin)
- 300ml or 1 ¼ cups, water (lukewarm)
- Proof the yeast with the sugar in lukewarm water and one tablespoon of flour until ill it bubbles.
- Cover the yeast as it blooms with a kitchen towel and place it in a warm place in your kitchen away from cool drafts. This should take approximately 20 minutes.
- Once bloomed gradually add the rest of the flour until the dough comes together. Knead dough on a lightly floured work surface for 10-15 minutes by hand.
- Knead 5-8 minutes on medium speed if using an electric mixer.
- The kneading will also increase the temperature of the dough allowing for less of a rise time later on.
- The dough should be approximately 72-74 degrees Fahrenheit by the end of the kneading process.
- Tip – Remember we are making breadsticks, not bread!
- If working by hand knead until the dough is smooth and pliable.
- Roll it out dough on a lightly floured or oiled surface into a rectangle shape approximately 16 inches wide by ¼ inch thick.
- Brush with olive oil, cover with a damp cloth or cling film.
- Let rise 30-40 min or until approximately double in size.
- Preheat oven to 450* Fahrenheit
- Cut off the uniform, ¼ inch strips from dough.
- Rollback and forth, stretching gently with an outward pressing motion as you form an even stick.
- Place on a baking tray.
- Don’t space to close together
- Proof the grissini in a warm place covered with a damp towel for an additional 20-30 minutes on a baking tray before baking.
- Add the tray to your oven and cook for 15-25 minutes. The time may vary depending on your oven
- Once placed in the oven spray the oven walls and floor three times at intervals of 2-3 minutes apart from the moment you place the breadsticks in the oven to create baking steam.
- Pay attention to any light bulbs or electric lights that you may have in your oven when dousing with a squirt bottle.
- Roll the grissini around so they color and bake evenly
- Once your grissini look light golden/bronze in color they are done
- Transfer to a wire rack to cool off.
- Leave them to become dry and crispy before eating