Doesn’t Fidget look particularly pleased with himself?
Olive, herb and Pecorino breadsticks
Well, so would you – if you were looking forward to these utterly scrumptious Mediterranean breadsticks!
Inspired by a recipe in the fabulous bread-making book Dough by Richard Bertinet (2007), these outstandingly tasty breadsticks can be made with little fuss. The original recipe has Kalamata olives and Pecorino as main toppings and we’ve added sundried tomatoes and fennel seeds for good measure. If you fancy making some you will need:
For the dough: 250g strong bread flour, 5g fresh yeast, 5g salt and 175g (yes, grams) water.
For the toppings: 100g good quality olives, 50g sundried tomatoes, 50g Pecorino or Parmesan, 5g dried herbs of choice (we used fennel seeds), maize flour for dusting.
Dough first: the book is wonderful because it explains in detail how to work the ingredients by hand, but we used an electric stand mixer with the dough hook. Rub the fresh yeast into the flour with your fingers (as if making a crumble), then add the salt and water and mix on a low setting for 2min. Notch up the speed slightly and mix for a further 6–7min until the dough becomes smooth and elastic. Take the dough out of the mixing bowl, mould it into a ball and leave to rest for about an hour in a clean bowl lightly dusted with flour and covered with a tea towel.
Meanwhile prepare the toppings: stone the olives and cut them in 2 or 3 pieces (you don’t want them too finely chopped), roughly cut the sundried tomatoes, shave or coarsely grate the cheese of choice.
When the dough is rested and doubled in size – it may take more or less time depending on the temperature of your kitchen – take it out of the bowl and place it on your slightly flour-dusted working surface. Make a rectangle (roughly A4 paper size) about 2cm thick. Sprinkle half the toppings across the middle 1/3 and fold the top 1/3 of dough over it; sprinkle the remaining toppings and fold the other 1/3 of the dough – as if you were folding an A4 letter in three to fit an envelope.
Press well to work the toppings into the dough and, with the flat edge of your dough scraper (or a knife), cut the dough into 10–12 strips about 1cm wide. On a pre-prepared baking tray lined with baking paper, sprinkle a little maize flour and line up each strip after you have stretched and twisted it. Allow a gap between each strip, cover all with a tea towel and leave to prove for 30min, then bake in a pre-heated oven at 250°C for 10–12min until golden brown.
Quite delightful! No wonder you look so smug, Fidget!
(And here is the maestro in action)