This week’s Great British Bake Off was all about bread and the themes were English muffins, bread sticks and showstopper loaves. I was immediately excited to try the bread stick challenge because it’s something I’ve wanted to make for a while. Like one of the contestants, Ruby, I don’t have a mixer at home and made mine by hand also (which was surprisingly enjoyable!)
I’m not sure how or why I came up with beer and black pepper, but as soon as I did, I couldn’t wait to try it. The beer gives it a dark, bitterness whilst the black pepper injects a kick of flavour into your taste buds. I loved the combination! At first, I was tempted to use a nice English dark ale but because this is based on an Italian recipe, I decided to go for Peroni Doppio Malta (double malt) which gives a really nice strong, dark flavour.
I wasn’t that bothered about my Grissini turning out perfectly straight or all the same size and length but my first batch were pretty ridiculous. They came out 3 times bigger than they should have been and resembled arthritic fingers. But I’m glad I decided to make them in 3 batches because it gave me the opportunity to perfect them. And I was very happy with the 3rd batch coming out not too wonky and with the perfect “snap” and crunch.
Things I learned from GBBO:
- Olive oil is perhaps a better choice over butter as butter tends to make things soft (although Glenn sort of proved this wrong!)
- The right oven temperature is key to the perfect consistency.
Things I learned from my own attempt:
- Make the bread sticks thinner than you’d like them to be, to allow for expanding in the oven.
- Bake in a few batches to test the outcome as you go along.
Beer & Black Pepper Grissini
Crispy Grissini with beer and a kick of black pepper. Made by hand (no mixer)
- 65g (1/2 cup) wholegrain flour
- 180ml (3/4 cup) strong beer
- 1 tsp honey
- 1 tbsp dried active yeast
- 165g (1 + 1/2 cup) plain flour
- 3 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil + extra for the bowl
- 2 tsp salt
- 2 tsp ground black pepper
- In a large bowl, mix the wholegrain flour, yeast, beer and honey. Stir with a wooden spoon so it’s well combined and leave it to sit for 10-15 minutes.
- Then stir in the plain flour, 3 tbsp olive oil and 1 tsp of salt. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured board and knead for 5 minutes or so until it becomes elastic, smooth and glossy looking.
- Now transfer the dough into a smaller bowl, coat in a tiny bit of olive oil and cover with a tea towel or plastic wrap and leave in a warm place for an hour. It will double in size so make sure there is enough room in the bowl!
- Once the dough has double in bulk, preheat the oven to 220C/fan 200C. and line 2-3 baking trays with greaseproof paper. (I used one baking tray and cooked them in 3 batches.)
- Turn the dough out onto a board (doesn’t need to be floured because of the olive oil) Add the remaining salt and the black pepper to the dough and knead in well. Then shape into a rough rectangle shape.
- Using a sharp knife, cut about 1/2 an inch of the dough off and roll into a very thin, long sausage shape. Bear in mind they will expand in the oven so make them a little thinner than you want them to turn out.
- Keep the sticks about 1/2 inch apart on the baking tray to allow them room to expand. Bake for 10-15 minutes, turning half way.
- Let cool and store in an air-tight container for a few days. Enjoy!
I’m taking part in the Great Bloggers Bake Off, which involves creating your own version of the recipes featured on The Great British Bake Off. It’s ran by The Crazy Kitchen and Mummy Mishaps and you can read more about it here. There is also a #GBBOBakeAlong happening over at Bakers Annonymous.