How to Make Authentic Italian Grissini Breadsticks Recipe in 80 Minutes
Italian grissini breadstick recipes have been around for a long time.
These breadsticks are long and thin breadsticks, crunchy and delicious. They go well as a snack or as appetizers. If you haven’t tried them yet, it’s a must to prepare them at least once. And then you will keep making them because these grissini sticks become addictive.
I should warn you that this grissini breadsticks recipe requires some patience from your side.
You will have to knead, fold and stretch the dough. And then wait for it to rise.
It is not necessarily a beginner recipe, but it surely can be made if you follow the directions closely. Making bread is not the easiest thing but the end result is so satisfying that you will begin to love the process too.
Besides, kneading by hand is very relaxing.
You can forget about the food processor and prepare the bread with your bare hands. It will be a nice and fulfilling experience.
What is Grissini?
Grissini are crispy breadsticks, made out by stretching the dough. This is the reason they have a rustic look. As all the handmade products, you won’t probably find two breadsticks that look the same. I love this kind of uneven appearance, it states that someone has worked with love and dedication to prepare these beauties.
It is thought that the first grissini were eaten around 1670. So, for about 350 years, people have enjoyed this treat and it is still a top pick for Italians. This fact alone should convince you to try the hard breadsticks.
Antonio Brunero was a baker in Torino and was asked to prepare something easy to digest for the young Duke of Savoy who was sick. Vittorio Amedeo II had a fatigued appetite which needed to be stimulated. In the end, he grew up to be a strong character despite the fact that his mother governed with dictatorial tendencies. Vittorio Amedeo had a sensitive intelligence and became an important figure on the political and diplomatic stage of the 18th century Europe.
Of course, this admirable development must have had something to do with the thin Italian breadsticks he ate when he was young and sick. They’d certainly helped him in defeating France after several days of siege. Due to this crispy invention, Vittorio was crowned king of Sicily in 1713 and later, in 1720, he became king of Sardinia. Torino, the same town where the grissini breadsticks recipe was first developed, became the capital of the newly established dominion. And that is how a simple baker made some great things happen in that area. Even the University of Torino was expanded, providing a higher quality education. You wish you had discovered grissini earlier, right? Who knows what great achievements would have occurred…
In Piemonte, some people believe that a grissino breadstick has some kind of magical powers. Or not… However, other sources state that the reason for hard breadsticks invention was that an epidemic was about to rise. Carlo Emanuele II, Vittorio’s father, asked the bakers to develop a bread which was less prone to mold and spoil. They came up with the sticks that contain less moisture than other types of bread.
Other theories say that, in fact, the name “grissini” comes from the old “grissia”. That is how the bread loaves were called in dialect. The great inflation in 1300s determined the bakers to make the bread smaller and smaller. It reached the point where people would identify it as “grissino”, a diminutive.
Another assumption is that this type of bread already existed. In 1643, Vincenzo Rucellai, a Florentine abbot travelling to a small town outside Torino, was writing in his travel diary about a fancy loaf, very thin and about one arm long. Therefore, we may assume that Brunero found his inspiration in an already existing delicacy.
After all, Vittorio Amedeo II was the first in a long line of royals to enjoy the grissino breadstick. Many members of the House of Savoy used to eat this delicacy, even when watching a theatre play. They liked the grissini sticks so much that Carlo Emanuele III, for example, asked some manufacturers to create a special container that can safely hold the sticks.
The reason was simple: he wanted to take them on his honeymoon.
We can find a lot of mentions about thin Italian breadsticks in many books. They are outlined as small batons or small sticks of bread made entirely of crust.
One of the greatest and most illustrious fan was Napoleon Bonaparte. After conquering Torino in 1801, he discovered this bread specialty. The emperor was so excited that he sent a sample to Paris.
Antoine Claude Pasquin Valery, a French writer, described the grissino breadstick as a nice revelation for people who travelled to Piedmont. He described them as easy to digest and pretty cheap, about the same price as the bread.
Even Nietzsche wrote about hard breadsticks. He discovered them in the period he lived in Torino (the 1880s) but said he’d prefer bread rolls. Probably because grissini were easier to digest and nothing had to be easy for the famous German philosopher.
We may say that these breadsticks have made their way through history in an honorable manner. Nowadays you will find grissini everywhere: in supermarkets, bakeries and restaurants. They are highly appreciated as a starter because they have a nicer texture than regular bread. Locals often serve them with prosciutto, mortadella or cheese. They can also be combined with an appetizer or a glass of wine.
Crostini vs. Grissini vs. Bruschetta. What's the difference?
I’ll tell you a little bit about the difference between grissini, crostini breadsticks and bruschetta. All of them are antipasti which means they enter the category of appetizers. The only thing they have in common is that all of them are crispy.
While grissini are long and thin, bruschetta and crostini breadsticks are slices of bread grilled or toasted until very crispy. Bruschetta are slices of regular bread. They are usually rubbed with garlic and brushed with olive oil.
The name comes from the word “bruscare” which means over roasting. You can choose any garnish you like. Don’t believe that you necessarily need to serve them with tomatoes and basil. The toppings may vary. And you may even enjoy them without any covering, just with garlic and olive oil.
Crostini breadsticks are made of smaller breads, like baguettes. To serve them, locals brush the slices with olive oil and sprinkle salt. Just like their bigger relatives, they can be topped with whatever you have in mind to enjoy a delicious appetizer.
So, What Can I Add to My Grissini Breadsticks Recipe to make it unique?
Grissini are great just the way they are. But you should know that you can make them even better by adding a lot of flavors. Choose between:
My advice is to make them as long as you can so they fit in your largest baking tray. Leave them plain or twist them.
The thickness is entirely up to you.
Only make sure you keep them evenly thick when stretching the dough so they don’t get burnt in some areas.
How to Store the Grissini?
As I previously told you, these sticks don’t contain that much moisture in comparison with regular bread. This is the reason why you may store them in an airtight container for several days without being concerned about their texture.
They will become even crispier as the time goes by.
What Do I Need for Grissini Breadsticks Recipe?
You will basically need six ingredients: flour, water, olive oil, honey, salt and active dry yeast. All of these are found in almost every kitchen.
You can even be creative and create your own grissini breadsticks recipe by trying other herbs and spices. A three pinch of any spice will work nice.
But there are several reasons why some of you will want to replace some of the ingredients.
- 1 ½ cup + 1 tbsp all-purpose flour, divided
- 1/3 cup warm water, divided
- 2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
- ½ tbsp salt
- 2/3 tbsp active dry yeast
- ½ tbsp honey
- Durum wheat semolina or corn flour
- Attach the dough hook to your electric mixer.
- Mix together 2/3 cup flour with all the water minus 2 tablespoons, olive oil, salt and honey in the mixer bowl.
- Add the yeast to the remaining water and stir until it dissolves completely.
- Knead the combined ingredients until you get a creamy dough.
- Add the yeast mixture. Also add all the remaining flour gradually so you will incorporate air into the dough. Process for about 15-20 minutes or until the dough is elastic and doesn’t stick to your fingers. You can do all the above steps with your hands instead of the food processor.
- Roll the dough, sprinkle some flour and cover with plastic wrap so that no crust will form at the surface. Cover with a clean cloth and set aside for 20 minutes.
- Remove the plastic foil and press the dough with the back of your hands. Roll it up to allow the gluten to give elasticity. Press the roll a bit.
- Take a large plastic foil and brush it with olive oil. Place the dough inside and wrap it well. Cover again with a cloth and let it rise until it doubles its size. This will take about 45-60 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 450F. Line a baking tray with parchment paper.
- Cover the working surface with wheat semolina or corn flour.
- Remove the plastic from the dough.
- Cut a ½’’ thick piece of dough. Roll the piece through corn flour.
- Begin stretching the stick with gentle moves. Start from the middle and go all the way to the edges. Do that until the grissino is the size of your tray.
- Repeat with the remaining dough. Remember to leave a 1’’ space between the breadsticks because they will rise while baking.
- Brush with olive oil.
- Ten minutes before starting to bake the grissini, place a dish with boiling water in the oven so you will increase the moisture.
- Bake the breadsticks for about 10-12 minutes. Halfway, remove the water dish and let the steam come out so they will have the chance to dry.
- Place on a wire rack to cool completely before serving.
- The water you use must be warm. Otherwise, you can be confronted with two possibilities: either the yeast won’t be able to develop the dough if the water is cold, or it will get burnt if the water is hot. Either way, your dough won’t rise.
- In case you are in a bit of a hurry, I advise you to put the dough in a dry and warm place so it will rise faster. The best spot is on the stove while you preheat the oven. And make sure to close the kitchen door so you won’t have any air currents.
- The texture of semolina is similar to the one of corn flour. It will prevent the dough from sticking to your hands while creating the grissini sticks.
- Leaving space between the sticks is mandatory because they will rise and stick to each other. You will get one large grissino instead of ten thinner ones.
- If you want to add dried herbs, sunflower seeds or parmesan, bring them to the dough while kneading so they will get incorporated evenly. You may also sprinkle sesame or cumin seeds or even sea salt on top of the grissini before taking them to the oven.
- Brushing with olive oil will give them a nice gloss.
- Serve the thin Italian breadsticks with whatever you like, from a delicious pesto dip to a large piece of prosciutto or mortadella. Or with cheese… different types of cheese.