Crunchy Spiced Breadsticks

These are easy to make with a big ooh-ahh factor!

1 t. active dry yeast
1 c. plus 2 T. warm water (85 degrees)
¼ t. sugar
1 lb. (3 ½ c.) flour
1/3 c. olive oil; more for the finished breadsticks
seasonings from one of the variations below
coarse salt for the finished breadsticks

Flavor variations:
Fresh Herb
2 t. kosher salt
2 T. chopped fresh chives
3 T. chopped fresh thyme
2 T. chopped fresh rosemary

Spicy Cheese
1 1/2 t. kosher salt
1 T. paprika
1/2 t. cayenne
3/4 c. grated parmesan

2 t. kosher salt
1 t. fresh ground pepper
1/4 c. cornmeal
3/4 t. turmeric
1 T. black sesame seeds
1 T. freshly ground cumin seeds
1 T.toasted sesame oil, and more for finished breadsticks

In a medium mixing bowl, mix the yeast, warm water, and sugar until dissolved. Whisk in 6 oz. (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 doubled in volume, about 1 hour.

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 fitted with a dough hook and set to medium speed. As the dough hook turns, gradually add 9 oz. (2 cups) of the flour. Continue to add flour until the dough is only slightly sticky, but no longer wet. When the dough begins to cling to the hook and pull away from the sides of the bowl, remove the dough from the bowl and knead by hand on a floured surfaced until smooth and elastic, 1 to 2 minutes.

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 raised, punch the dough and refrigerate it overnight or for up to 4 days.

Shape and bake the breadsticks:
Let the dough sit at room temperature for about 1 hour before shaping it. Heat the oven to 375 degrees and line several baking sheets with kitchen parchment. Roll out the dough on a floured surface into a 12x 20” rectangle, about ¼” thick. Using a pizza
cutter (or a long, sharp knife), cut the rectangle lengthwise into two sections (each about 6 inches wide). Then cut each section into narrow strips about ½” wide. Stretch and twist each strip to almost twice its original length and arrange the strips in fanciful curls/shapes, ¼” apart, on the baking sheet.

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 them cool completely before serving. They will stay fresh in an airtight container for up to 10 days.

Fine Cooking, November 1997

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