Crunchy Spiced Breadsticks

These will hold up to four days in the fridge, making last minute baking a snap.
Yields about 40 breadsticks

1 t. active dry yeast
1 c. plus 2 T. warm water (85°)
¼ t. sugar
1 lb. Flour (3 ½ cups)
1/3 c. olive oil; more for the finished breadsticks
Seasonings from one of the 3 variations below.
Coarse salt for the finished breadsticks

Variations:
Fresh Herb:
2 t. salt
2 T. chopped fresh chives
3 T. chopped fresh thyme
2 T. chopped fresh rosemary

Spicy Cheese
1 ½ t. salt
1 T. paprika
½ t. cayenne
¾ c. grated Parmesan cheese

Moroccan Spice:
2 t. salt
¼ c. cornmeal
1 T. sesame seeds; preferably black
¾ t. turmeric
1 T. freshly ground cumin seeds
1 t. freshly ground black pepper
1 T. toasted sesame oil; more for the finished breadsticks

Directions:

1. Make a sponge. In a medium mixing bowl, mix the yeast, warm water, and sugar until dissolved. Whisk in 1 1/3 c. of the flour until the mixture is uniform and free of lumps. Cover with plastic wrap and let it sit in a warm place until bubbly and light and almost double d in volume, about 1 hour.

2. Make the dough. Whisk the olive oil and the seasonings of your choice into the sponge until well blended. Pour the seasoned sponge into the mixing bowl of an electric mixer fitter with a dough hook and set to medium speed. As the dough hook turns, gradually add 2 cups of the flour. Continue to add flour until the dough is only slight sticky, but no longer wet. When the dough begins to cling to the hook and pulls away from the sides of the bowl, remove the dough from the bowl and knead by hand on a floured surface until smooth and elastic, 1 to 2 min. Shape the dough into a ball and let it rise in an oiled bowl, covered with plastic wrap, until about doubled in bulk, about 3 hours. Once risen, punch down the dough and refrigerate it overnight or for up to 4 days.

3. Shape and bake the breadsticks. Let the dough sit at room temperature for about 1 hour before shaping it. Heat the oven to 375° and line several baking sheets with kitchen parchment. Roll out the dough on a floured surface into a 12 x 20” rectangle, about ¼” thick. Using a pizza cutter (or a long, sharp knife), cut the rectangle lengthwise into two sections (each about 5” wide). Then cut each section into narrow strips about ½” wide. Stretch and twist each strip to almost twice its original length and arrange strips ¼” apart, on the baking sheets. Form fanciful shapes – curlicues, candy canes, wiggles. Bake the sticks until golden and crispy, 20 to 25 minutes. Check them periodically as they bake as some sticks inevitably end up thinner than others and will bake faster. They’re done if they feel firm when pinched.

Sprinkle the sticks with olive oil (or sesame oil for the Moroccan flavored sticks) and coarse salt as soon as they come out of the oven. Let cool completely before serving. They will stay fresh in an airtight container for up to 2 days

Fine Cooking
Trisha

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