OK, let’s all be honest now. Is there anyone out there who doesn’t devour breadsticks on the spot? You know how it is. You go to a nice little Italian restaurant and they put those seedy, spindly, fragrant sticks right down on the table, before your food comes. You eat those immediately, right? I’ve tried holding back, acting a bit aloof like I have way more will power than I really do. Tried to pretend I’m not weak and I’m really going to wait until dinner arrives. But I never do. (Red Vines have the same effect on me when I go to the movies, but we’ll have to post that recipe at a later date).
I’ve tried recipes for bread sticks that use ready-made biscuit dough that you twirl into a swizzle and then roll in sea salt or poppy seeds. (Remember, we’ve decided to be honest now). They’re horrible, even if they do look vaguely passable. But in truth it’s not much more time consuming to really make these beauties from French food blogger Estérelle Payany the right way. With real yeasted dough, for real bread stick flavor.
And look how pretty they are! I’m still going to eat every last one before dinner is served, but this time I’m going to be totally OK with that. And you will be too.
Better Made at Home
Salty, Sweet, Satisfying Snacks You Can Make at Home
by Estérelle Payany
Photographs by Guillaume Czerw
- ½ packet active dry yeast (each packet weighs ¼ ounce; 7 grams)
- ¾ cup (125 grams) all‑purpose flour plus a little for dusting
- ¾ cup (125 grams) fine wheat semolina
- 2 teaspoons sugar
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons olive oil
- A few pinches dried thyme or oregano, freeze-dried garlic, cayenne pepper, cumin seeds, or aniseed, optional
- Sea salt, for dusting
- Dissolve the yeast in about ½ cup (12.5 cl) of warm water.
- In a mixing bowl, mix the flour, semolina, sugar, and salt. Make a well in the middle of the flour and pour in the dissolved yeast and then the oil. Using your hands or a wooden spoon, mix the dough until it comes together. Turn it out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for about 10 minutes, until it stops sticking to your fingers. Add a few pinches of herbs or spices, if desired, and mix into the dough. Return the dough to the bowl and cover with a damp dishtowel or similar cloth and let it rise for 1 hour in a warm, dry place.
- Once the dough has doubled in volume, knead it a little and then spread it out on a floured board in a rectangle about ¼ inch (½ mm) thick. Cover it again and let it rest for about 30 minutes longer.
- Heat the oven to 350°F (180°C).
- Using a pizza wheel, slice the dough into strings around ¼ inch (½ mm) thick and 8 inches (20 cm) long. Stretch them to make them even finer, and lay them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
- Sprinkle the bread sticks with sea salt and bake for about 15 minutes. The thinner the bread sticks are, the faster they’ll cook, so watch them carefully to make sure they don’t burn. Let them cool on wire racks before serving.
- The bread sticks will keep in an airtight tin for up to 1 week (if there are any left!).