LC Naming Unconventions Note
Technically speaking, the proper name of these skinny, crunchy, yeasty, moan-inducingly lovely light sabers of bready goodness is grissini Torinesi. Confession: We’ve been referring to them simply as grissini, a word that rolls off the tongue in a way that “Torinesi” does not. Anyone who’s up for the challenge of a little advanced Italian can, of course, pronounce its full name over and over and over again, to his or her heart’s content, along with grissini Siciliani and grissini al papavera, two classic variations on this Italian breadstuff staple. You’ll find the how-tos for these variations beneath the breadsticks recipe that follows.
Italian Breadsticks | Grissini Torinesi
- Quick Glance
- 25 M
- 2 H
- Makes 20
Special Equipment: Baking stone (optional)
Make the dough by hand: Stir the yeast and malt into the warm water in a large mixing bowl; let stand until foamy, about 10 minutes. Stir in the oil. Add the all-purpose flour and salt and stir until the dough comes together. Knead on a lightly floured surface until smooth, soft, velvety, and elastic, 8 to 10 minutes.
Make the dough with a stand mixer: Stir the yeast and malt into the warm water in a mixer bowl; let stand until foamy, about 10 minutes. Mix in the oil with the paddle. Add the all-purpose flour and salt and mix until the dough comes together. Change to the dough hook and knead at low speed about 3 minutes. Finish kneading briefly by hand on a lightly floured surface.
Make the dough with a food processor: Stir the yeast and malt into the 1/4 cup warm water in a small bowl; let stand until foamy, about 10 minutes. Place the all-purpose flour and salt in a standard food processor fitted with the dough blade or a large (over 7-cup capacity) processor fitted with the steel blade and process with several pulses to sift. Mix the 1 cup cold water and the oil in a small bowl. With the machine running, pour the water mixed with oil and the dissolved yeast through the feed tube and process until the dough comes together. Process 45 seconds longer to knead. Finish kneading briefly by hand on a lightly floured surface.
Pat the dough with your hand into a 14-by-4-inch rectangle on a well-floured surface. Lightly brush the top with oil. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rise until doubled, about 1 hour.
Preheat the oven to 450ºF (232ºC). If you are using a baking stone (for crunchy breadsticks), turn the oven on 30 minutes before baking. Lightly oil 2 baking sheets.
Sprinkle the dough with the cornmeal or semolina flour before cutting and stretching. The traditional method of shaping breadsticks is ingenious, simple, and quick, and doesn’t make you roll out individual grissini. Cut the dough crosswise into 4 equal sections and then cut each section crosswise again into 5 strips, each about the width of a fat finger. The dough is so elastic that you can simply pick up each piece, hold each end with your fingers, and pull and stretch to fit the length of a baking sheet. Place the breadsticks several inches apart on the baking sheets (We find it easier to use the backs of the baking sheets, unless you have rimless sheets). There is no need to let them rise.
Bake the breadsticks for 20 minutes. If you like crunchy breadsticks, transfer the breadsticks directly to the baking stone for the last 5 minutes of the baking time, but only after sprinkling the stone with cornmeal or coarse semolina. Let the breadsticks cool on racks.
Italian Breadstick Variations
- Grissini Siciliani
Sprinkle the dough with 1/2 cup sesame seeds instead of cornmeal or semolina flour before cutting and shaping the breadsticks.
- Grissini al papavera
Sprinkle the dough with 1/2 cup poppy seeds instead of cornmeal or semolina flour before cutting and shaping the breadsticks.
Recipe Testers Reviews
This grissini recipe produced crunchy, authentic Italian grissini. I followed the recipe as written but did note some differences in the final product based on how the breadsticks were formed. I placed half on the sheet pan the short way and the other half on a different pan the long way. Those that were shorter and fatter had a much doughier consistency than the crunchier, longer batch made according to the recipe’s directions. The crunchier batch seemed more authentic to me. I also noticed that the semolina left a floury residue on the exterior, which I didn't love. Next time I'll cut down on the semolina by as much as half.