Herb and Cheese Grissini #BreadBakers

Scenes from an Italian restaurant… Sunday night dinner, out with the fam. Restless kids (me and my younger sister and brother) getting kvetchy because we have to wait more than five minutes. But never fear! The waiter (no servers back in the stone age) brings the bread basket. We snarf down the garlic bread like we've never eaten before and then we're left with…breadsticks. Or a poor facsimile of breadsticks. You know them, those long, thin, dry, tasteless, overbaked rods—although sometimes they were short, stubby, and festooned with sesame seeds but still dry, tasteless and overbaked—that nobody ever wants. So we play pick-up sticks and sword fights with them. We break them into tiny pieces and throw them at each other. We pound them into dust. We dunk them in our water glasses and make paste out of them. (Yes, we were THOSE obnoxious kids…) We do everything but eat them. They exist merely to entertain us until the good stuff arrives. Otherwise, the breadsticks just don't cut it.

Fast forward a few years…um, decades. No more shall the lowly breadstick be good for nothing more than playthings to entertain badly behaved children in restaurants. All hail the noble grissini (that's fancy Italian talk for breadstick)! THESE breadsticks are good. Really good. STUPID good. Can't stop eating them good. (Trust me on this. I ate them. All of them. By myself. Twice.) They're everything the ones of my youth weren't. Long and pencil thin, yes. But whereas the breadsticks of yore tasted like…sticks, these are jam-packed full of savory goodness. Herby, cheesy, crispy, cheesy, crunchy, cheesy and totally addictive. Did I mention cheesy? You neeeed these, you really do. They're actually pretty easy to make and if, like me, you're neurotic about getting things JUST SO (all sticks the same length and totally straight—that sort of thing), they'll really appeal to you on an anal-retentive level too.

And best of all, you can still play games with them. That is, if they last that long.

Herb and Cheese Grissini

Ingredients

Makes: A lot

  • 7g fresh rosemary, roughly chopped
  • 187g milk (whole), 78°F
  • 14g olive oil
  • 14g malt syrup
  • 411g high-gluten flour (such as King Arthur Flour's Sir Lancelot)
  • 6g instant dry yeast
  • 9g salt (sea or kosher)
  • 62g butter, softened
  • 28g Asiago cheese, finely shredded*
  • Olive oil for brushing
  • Salt for sprinkling

Directions

  1. Make the dough the day before you plan to bake. Stir together the milk, oil and malt syrup in the bowl of a stand mixer. Blend the yeast with the flour, then add to the mixer bowl. Next, add the butter and salt to the bowl.
  2. With the flat beater, mix at low speed just until the dough comes together, then switch to the dough hook and mix for 4 minutes on low speed, scraping the bowl and flipping the dough as needed.
  3. Add in the cheese and herbs, then mix at medium speed for another 3 minutes, flipping the dough if needed to ensure that the herbs and cheese are evenly distributed.
  4. Place the dough on a lightly floured surface, round off, then place in a floured container, cover and store in the refrigerator overnight or for a minimum of 8 hours.
  5. On baking day, remove the dough from the fridge and let rest for about an hour or until the dough no longer feels cold. Line 2–3 baking sheets with parchment paper.
  6. Turn the dough out onto a floured work surface and divide into four equal pieces. Round off and lightly flour the pieces, then work with one piece at a time, setting aside and covering the others.
  7. Flatten each piece, flour and run through a pasta machine at the largest setting. Continue lightly flouring and running the dough in the pasta machine, changing the thickness setting until it is about 1/8-3/16" thick. Switch to the fettucine cutter, lightly flour and square off the edges of the dough, then run through the cutter. Separate the strands and lay them out individually on the prepared baking sheets, straightening the pieces and trimming the ends as needed.
  8. Brush or spray the strands with olive oil, then cover with plastic wrap and set aside to rest for about 30 minutes. While the dough is resting, preheat the oven to 400°F.
  9. When ready to bake, lightly brush or spray the dough with olive oil again and sprinkle with salt.
  10. Place the trays in the oven and reduce the temperature to 375°F. Bake for 10 minutes, then rotate and switch the trays to ensure even baking. Continue baking for another 6–8 minutes, until the grissini are golden, watching carefully to make sure they don't burn.
  11. Remove the grissini from the oven and cool on a wire rack. Store the cooled grissini in an airtight container.

Adapted from Artisan Breads, the At Home series by the Culinary Institute of America

Notes

* 28 grams is NOT enough cheese for me. It's cheese, there's never enough. The first time I used 28 grams. Every time after, I nearly doubled it. Totally up to you. It's cheese. CHEESE.

A pasta machine isn't an absolute must but it does make things easier. If you don't use one, be prepared to do a LOT of rolling.

Almost any herbs and hard cheese will work. This time, I made them with rosemary and asiago/parmesan and chives and cheddar. Go wild!

The original instructions say to add the herbs and cheese after mixing at medium speed and to mix everything for another minute. I skipped that step after the first time I made them and didn't notice any difference in the texture of the dough, but I did think the herbs and cheese were more evenly incorporated.

The original instructions also say that your dough should be about 1/4" thick after running it through the pasta machine at setting #5. FIVE? Even at the largest setting, my pasta machine (Kitchen Aid attachment) isn't 1/4" thick, let alone at setting 5. I experimented a bit and found that setting 3 was a good one—about 1/8–3/16". Your machine may be different.

I used the fettucine cutter the first time I made these, but constantly switching back and forth from the cutter to roller was too much work for my lazy @$$ self. Instead, I used my spiffy hand cutter, which was much faster, more efficient and did a great job, especially since I used a thicker dough setting than recommended for the fettucine roller.

Those darn pesky original instructions also recommended turning the oven down to 350°F after the first 10 minute bake but I kept forgetting. (I barely remembered to turn it down from 400 to 375 the first time, too, until I torched a batch.) I just left it at 375° but kept an eye on things and didn't notice any difference in crispness.

Summer Bounty Breads from #BreadBakers

This month, the BreadBakers theme is Summer Bounty—breads made with fruits, vegetables or herbs from the garden or the farmer's market—hosted by Pavani at Cooks' Hideout

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Links are also updated after each event on the BreadBakers home page. We take turns hosting each month and choosing the theme/ingredient.

If you are a food blogger and would like to join us, just send Stacy an email with your blog URL to foodlustpeoplelove@gmail.com

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