Grissini is a food that I have eaten an awful lot of in my life. Ever since I was little I’ve always loved a simple breadstick (well, pretty much anything bread based for that matter). Long, slender, crunchy sticks of bread, just ripe for dipping, wrapping & dunking, what a joy! Dating back to the 17th century, grissini were actually invented by a Torino baker for Duke Vittorio Amedeo II who had digestive issues & couldn’t eat doughy breads, so instead an easier to digest, crispy bread was created. It soon became popular throughout Italy & can be found served at most restaurants.
It wasn’t until I visited Turin though that I truly appreciated grissini. As the birthplace of grissini, you cannot go for any meal without a side of extra long grissini for the table (or wine whilst we’re at it). I was in awe whenver I passed a bakery who were preparing their grissini every morning, each bakery with it’s own speciality, be it flavour (with herbs, filled with olives or coated in seeds) or their shape, depending if they were made grissini rubata (literally meaning ‘rolled’ this is the traditional method of shaping by rolling the dough by hand) or grissini stirato (meaning ‘ironed’ where the dough is streched, most common in commercial production).
These sunflower seed grissini are my little ode to Turnin, traditionally made but with a less traditional coating of seeds (sunflower are my favourite). I enjoy making these up in the summer when they go great with an aperitif, with cool dips & salads or wrapped in some prosciutto with a selection of cheese. The beauty about grissini is not only are they simply & fun to make but they’re unashamedly rustic, they’re supposed to be uneven & wobbly, it’s part of their crunchy charm.
SUNFLOWER SEED GRISSINI
- 350g strong white flour
- 7g yeast
- Pinch of salt
- 220ml water
- 30ml olive oil
- 75g sunflower seeds
- 2 tbsp sea salt
- Begin by adding the flour, salt & yeast to a large bowl
- Make a well in the middle of the dry ingredients & pour in both the water & olive oil
- Mix together until it begins to form a dough
- Empty the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface & knead for 10 minutes (or 5 minutes if using a stand mixer with a dough hook) until it is smooth & elastic when stretched
- Put the dough back into the bowl, cover with clingfilm & leave to rise for about an hour, until it has doubled in size
- Once your dough has risen, tip it out onto a floured work surface & knock back the dough (knead out the air pockets)
- Roughly shape your dough into a sausage shape & using a knife or dough scraper, divide the dough into 12 equal sized pieces
- Taking a piece at a time, use your hands to roll the dough into a long cylindrical piece, using your hands to stretch outwards from the middle of the dough as you roll
- Next, sprinkle the sunflower seeds over the dough & gently roll them around in the seeds
- Place the shaped grissini onto a parchment lined baking sheet
- Cover the dough cover with a tea towel, or (my preference) place inside a large plastic bag & leave to prove for 15 minutes
- Once proved, sprinkle the sea salt over the top of the dough
- Bake the grissini at 200C for 18-20 minutes until golden & crisp