Homemade grissini—essentially Italian-style breadsticks—are an easy upgrade to any dinner table. If you’ve traveled through Italy, you’ve no doubt encountered this spindly bread, always set out on the table in paper bags meant to whet your appetite and hold you over until that first pasta dish inevitably arrives. And while those are great, this sourdough version is better. They are crunchy, a little salty, and can be gussied up with any dried herbs or seeds that suit your fancy, my favorite being za’atar or white sesame seeds. When I make these I almost always double the recipe, they go faster than you think.
One of the great things about these grissini (besides their crunchy texture and flavor, of course) is that they actually seem to improve as they sit out uncovered on the counter. If you’re preparing for a large gathering, make them the day before and simply leave them on their sheet pan until you’re ready to set your table or put out the appetizer spread.
The recipe calls for fine or superfine sugar (also called caster sugar)—be sure not to use any coarse sugar (granulated or cane sugar is okay) in the recipe, which will have a hard time incorporating into the dough. To ensure the grissini are extra crispy, make sure you bake them long enough so they achieve a light brown color and produce a satisfying crunch when snapped. Depending on your location (humidity can affect the end result!), you may need to bake a few minutes longer than the specified time. —Maurizio Leo
Test Kitchen Notes
This dish is part of Residentsgiving—aka the Thanksgiving menu of our wildest dreams—created by Food52's resident experts-slash-superheroes. Devour the rest of the spread here, and while you're at it, learn how to Remix & Remaster your Thanksgiving. —The Editors
- Prep time 5 hours
- Cook time 22 minutes
- makes About 20 grissini
ripe sourdough starter (100% hydration)
extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for brushing
fine granulated or superfine sugar (not confectioners’)
fine sea salt
Sesame seeds, za’atar, herbes de Provence, for topping (optional)
Mix the dough (9:00 a.m.)
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook attachment, mix the flour, water, sourdough starter, 30 grams of the oil, the sugar, and salt on low speed for 1 to 2 minutes, until combined and no dry bits of flour remain. Increase the mixer speed to medium-low and mix, scraping the bowl as needed, for 5 to 6 minutes, until the dough clumps around the dough hook.
Preshape the dough (9:15 a.m.)
Line a sheet pan with parchment paper and use a pastry brush or paper towel to brush on a thin layer of oil. Transfer the dough to the center of the sheet pan and use your hands to form the dough into a 14-by-3-inch rectangle. Use the oiled pastry brush and brush on a very light layer of olive oil to the top and sides of the shaped dough rectangle.
Proof the dough (9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.)
Cover the sheet pan with a reusable airtight cover or greased plastic wrap, and let it rise at warm room temperature (76°F/24°C) for 3 hours, until the dough has puffed slightly and feels airy when poked.
Shape the dough (12:30 p.m.)
Place a rack in the middle of the oven and heat to 375°F (190°C). Line a second half sheet pan with parchment paper.
Uncover the proofed dough rectangle. If using seeds or spices, sprinkle them over the proofed rectangle now.
Using a bench scraper, cut the dough rectangle into about 20 short (½-inch) strips. I like to press directly down with the bench scraper and slightly push the cut piece away to create space.
Using both hands, grab a strip of cut dough by the ends and stretch it out in a single motion to about 12 inches long, which will fit inside the second sheet pan running parallel to the short sides. As you stretch each piece, place it in the pan and lay it very close to, but not touching, the stretched piece before. Repeat with remaining dough pieces.
Bake the grissini (1:00 p.m.)
Bake for 22 to 28 minutes, until the grissini just starts to turn a golden brown color and are crispy.
Remove the pan from the oven and let cool on the pan for 5 minutes. The grissini will keep well for several days after baking stored in a paper bag on the counter to maintain their crunchiness. I find they’re even better the day after baking.