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.
Yield: 24 grissini
- Mix: 5 minutes
- First fermentation: about 1 hour
- Shape: 10 minutes per sheet of 12
- Bake: 30 minutes per sheet of 12
- 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
- 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
- In the bowl of a food processor with the metal blade, combine the flour, rye flour, flaxseed, salt, and yeast. Pulse to combine.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Ferment at room temperature until the dough doubles in volume, about one hour.
- Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350F and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
- Divide the dough into two pieces. While working with the first piece, cover and refrigerate the other.
- 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.
- Sprinkle the dough evenly with your choice of topping(s).
- With a pizza cutter or chef’s knife, cut the dough into 12 strips.
- 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.
- Spray the grissini lightly with olive oil.
- Bake for 25 – 30 minutes, until well browned.
- Cool on a wire rack.