Portion/Yield:Makes 15–20 bread sticks
This recipe is a follow-on to the Farmhouse White Loaf recipe inspired by Richard Bertinet. I have used exactly the same bread dough and the same method (though I have halved the ingredient quantities), but this time I have made the dough into fantastic crusty bread sticks instead of baking two loaves of bread.
These bread sticks are great fun and they are perfect for when you have a group of friends over for a barbecue party or another social gathering. They are also good for serving with soup or with antipasti such as dips and cold cuts.
Ingredients & Method
- 375g strong white bread flour (I use Shipton Mill organic flour), plus extra for dusting
- 7.5g fresh yeast
- 5g sea salt
- 265ml tepid water (see Cook's Notes)
- sunflower oil, for greasing
Place the flour in a medium mixing bowl – I prefer to use a round-based metal bowl as it’s easy to manoeuvre. Add the yeast, then rub it into the flour using your fingertips, making sure it’s rubbed in completely. This should take about 3–4 minutes.
Add the salt and stir it in. Never let the salt get in direct contact with the yeast before it’s rubbed in as the salt will kill the yeast and your dough will not rise.
Make a well in the centre of the flour mixture and add the water, then use a flexible plastic scraper to help you to work the water into the flour with long folding movements.
Once the water and flour are mixed to form a dough, turn the dough out onto a clean work surface (do not add any extra flour to the work surface).
Knead the dough for 7–8 minutes, using folding movements to work the dough – pulling the dough towards you and folding it over, repeating these movements as you knead. The dough will become smooth (use a flexible plastic scraper to scrape any bits of dough that get stuck to the table).
Once the dough is worked into a smooth ball, place it in a greased bowl and cover it with a clean dry tea towel. Leave the dough to rise in a warm place for about 45 minutes or until doubled in size. Meanwhile, lightly flour 2 large baking sheets and set aside.
Gently turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface, then use your fingertips to spread the dough out, but be gentle and do not bash the dough as you have worked very hard to work air into it. Once the dough is spread into a rectangle, fold one short side over towards the middle, followed by the other short side. This reinforces the spine or backbone of the dough.
Use the flexible plastic scraper to cut the dough widthways into 15–20 x 1cm-wide pieces.
Sprinkle some flour over the work surface and then roll out each piece of dough using both hands to make a stick shape, twisting the dough stick into a spiral as you go.
Place each twisted stick of dough onto a floured baking sheet, leaving space between each one, then lightly cover with clean dry tea towels. Leave to rise again (prove) in a warm place until doubled in size, about 20 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 220°C/Gas Mark 7.
Once they are proved, lightly dust the bread sticks with flour, then bake them in the oven for 15–20 minutes or until risen and golden brown with a lovely crunchy crust.
Remove from the oven, transfer the bread sticks to a wire rack and leave to cool completely (see Cook’s Notes).
Richard taught us that if you weigh the water instead of using a measuring jug you get a more accurate measure. Note – the quantity of water, either weighed or measured as a volume, is equal (i.e. 100g is equal to 100ml, so for this recipe 265ml = 265g).
These bread sticks are best eaten on the day they are baked. Any leftovers will keep, tightly wrapped, at room temperature for up to 2 days. Alternatively, freeze for up to a month, then defrost overnight at room temperature before serving. Reheat the bread sticks in a preheated oven at 180°C/Gas Mark 4 to warm them through before serving, if you like.