Bake a Better Bread Stick

I’ve said it before: I love grissini. These thin, dry bread sticks are a perennial crowd-pleaser — rustically beautiful, always whimsical but never frivolous, a snap to make and (literally) to eat. Their flavor is eminently versatile, subject to the baker’s inclination — the toss of a fennel or sesame seed here, the grind of a pepper mill there. I’ve made them plenty of times, sourdough or straight, and they’ve been toothsome and quick to disappear every time.

These are better, and I have the numbers to prove it.

I would not presume to say that the addition of ground flaxseed and a bit of rye flour to the dough make the grissini taste better, as that is a matter of, well, taste. My taste says they taste pretty fine. My daughter’s taste says so, too.

But even if you disagree with our taste (and I don’t think you will), numbers don’t lie. Consider these numbers:

  • Alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) is an essential omega-3 fatty acid.
  • Dozens of studies have shown diets rich in ALA to be associated with beneficial health effects, including decreased risk of heart disease and some cancers.
  • The Institute of Medicine sets the adequate daily intake of ALA to 1.1 g for women and 1.6 g for men.
  • One grissino contains approximately one teaspoon of flaxseed, which provides 570 mg (.57 g) of ALA.
  • If you have two X-chromosomes, two grissini and you’re covered, ALA-wise. For the other half of us, make it three.

So, bottom line? They taste good.

Flaxseed Grissini

Yield: 24 grissini

Time:

  • Mix: 5 minutes
  • First fermentation: about 1 hour
  • Shape: 10 minutes per sheet of 12
  • Bake: 30 minutes per sheet of 12

Dough Ingredients:

  • 150 g flour
  • 23 g rye or whole wheat flour
  • 53 g ground flaxseeds (flax meal)
  • 4.5 g (3/4 t.) salt
  • 2.3 g (scant 3/4 t.) instant yeast
  • 149 g cold water
  • 11 g olive oil

Topping Suggestions:

  • coarse salt and coarsely-ground pepper, alone or with the addition of one or more of these:
  • whole flax seeds
  • whole or coarsely chopped fennel seeds (use sparingly as the flavor is strong)
  • sesame seeds
  • coarse semolina
  • and olive oil for spraying

Method:

  1. In the bowl of a food processor with the metal blade, combine the flour, rye flour, flaxseed, salt, and yeast. Pulse to combine.
  2. In a liquid measuring cup, combine the water and the olive oil. With the processor running, add the liquids to the dry ingredients in a thin stream.
  3. Continue processing until the dough more or less holds together (it will not form a ball because it is too sticky at this point), and for about 30 seconds beyond that. The total processing time should be about 90 seconds.
  4. Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled, covered container. Don’t worry that the dough is sticky; it will become less so as the flax absorbs water over the fermentation period.
  5. Ferment at room temperature until the dough doubles in volume, about one hour.
  6. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350F and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
  7. Divide the dough into two pieces. While working with the first piece, cover and refrigerate the other.
  8. On a lightly-floured counter, pat the dough into a rectangle of roughly 8 x 4 inches. The exact dimensions are not critical, but it should be uniformly thick.
  9. Sprinkle the dough evenly with your choice of topping(s).
  10. With a pizza cutter or chef’s knife, cut the dough into 12 strips.
  11. On a flour-free section of counter, roll each dough strip into a snake the length of your baking sheet. Space them evenly across the sheet.
  12. Spray the grissini lightly with olive oil.
  13. Bake for 25 – 30 minutes, until well browned.
  14. Cool on a wire rack.

CommentsLeave a comment

  1. says

    Loved this post! Never made grissini, for some reason they seem like a ton of work, but probably not too different from lavash crackers (which I managed to bake in the past).

    You mentioned your daughter… how is that puppy doing? Any photos for us? :-)

  2. John says

    I wonder if I could spread a bit of marmite on them and make twiglets. Have you ever had them? British pretzel style snack that are totally addictive.

    I have to try!

  3. says

    These sound awesome…. my current favorite grissini dough is just a really awesome pizza dough- this would be a great way to change things up. Rather than handcutting and rolling them, I like to put them through a pasta machine and cut them using the fettucini cutter attachment.

  4. David Snyder says

    Hi, Susan.

    The grissini look delicious! I love the flavor of flax seeds, too.

    I must say, this is the first gender-specific bread formula I’ve encountered. Hmmm … There’s potential there. How about adding some egg yolk and chopped kale (for the folic acid) to the dough, if you’re pregnant?

    David

  5. Kirk says

    It has been so long since I’ve made bread sticks. You have inspired me to give them another shot. I’ve used a recipe from Peter Reinhart’s “Bread Baker’s Apprentice.” They are super, and your grissini sounds terrific too.

  6. says

    Yummy! Beautifully photographed!
    Am a big fan of flax seeds; have put them in anything I can think of, bread especially.
    I’ve made your recipes a few times. Pics are hard to capture. Did you get new lenses for your camera?

  7. says

    Hi Susan, These Grissini look great! I use flaxseed all of the time so I will have to give these a go. Thanks for posting them. Teresa

  8. says

    gorgeous bread sticks. i just bookmarked them and theyre making my list longer bu t I can tell u that im making this first thing as soon as I get those flaxseeds .TQ (I love rustic) :)

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