Time 2h 5m
Today, we want to show you how to make Italian breadsticks with sourdough discard. It's a quick and easy recipe that'll help you use up your leftover sourdough starter between "feedings".
Also known as grissini, breadsticks are a traditional Italian nibble. These long, thin crackers consist of bread dough stretched into sticks and baked until super crunchy.
The classic ingredients include flour, water, extra virgin olive oil, and dry yeast.
Using sourdough to make grissini means you won't need any dry yeast. Instead, your bubbly starter will take care of puffing up those breadsticks nicely for you.
Because your starter is essentially a batter of water and flour, you'll only need to tip in some extra flour to get the right dough consistency. Easy!
But before you start making these breadsticks, make sure the starter has been "fed".
This means you have fed it with water and flour a few hours before or the night before, depending on how warm is your kitchen or lively is your starter.
After the "feeding", the sourdough will be active and bubbly and have that characteristic sweet and sour smell and flavour. Exactly what you need to make these breadsticks super tasty!
In the recipe below, we'll give you the option to coat the grissini with Italian herbs, sesame seeds, or semolina. You can also choose other toppings if you like or leave the breadsticks plain.
Because we wanted this recipe to be as quick as possible, you don't have to let the dough or the breadsticks prove. Instead, you can shape them and bake them right away.
Still, if you have some time, we recommend leaving the grissini to proof for just one hour or so for extra flavour and friability.
As for the baking, it's crucial you slow bake the breadsticks at low temperature if you want them to be really crunchy and flaky.
We tried and tested the cooking times and temperature many times, and we found that baking the grissini at 160°C for 50 minutes yields the best results.
We already used this technique in our Italian sourdough crackers, and they came out perfectly crunchy!
Once ready, let the sourdough breadsticks cool down and crisp up and serve them with your favourite dips.
Coating Option 3
- Fine Semolina (or cornmeal)
Coating Option 2
- Dried Rosemary
- Dried Thyme
Coating Option 1
- Sesame Seeds
- Sourdough Starter
- Bread Flour (wholemeal or white)
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil
To make these sourdough breadsticks, you can use the leftover sourdough starter (called "discard") you would normally throw away before the next starter "feeding".
Make sure the sourdough starter is bubbly and active before starting.
You can test this by checking if the sourdough starter floats in water: drop a spoonful of starter in a glass of water and, if it floats, it's ready; if it doesn't, you need to leave it to rise for longer.
You can also "feed" your sourdough stater just for this sourdough breadsticks recipe.
Feed it as you usually do and leave it to rise and bubble until doubled in volume.
This can take from a few hours to 8-12 hours, depending on how warm is your kitchen and how lively is your sourdough.
Now, mix the flour with salt in a bowl, then add the extra virgin olive oil and the sourdough starter.
As for the flour, we used brown bread flour, but you can also use white bread flour or even plain all-purpose flour. If possible use organic flour.
Mix the ingredients with a spoon until they come together into a dough and then transfer it onto a flat surface.
Knead the dough by hand for about 5 minutes or until it's smooth and elastic.
If the dough feels too stiff, let it rest in a bowl for 10 minutes covered with a tea towel before kneading it again.
Now, divide the dough into equal pieces, roughly the size of a large walnut or about 30g (1 oz) each.
Roll each piece into a tight ball.
Then, shape each ball into a cylinder by rolling it and stretching it under your palms and over a flat surface.
Roll the dough until you have a long, thin breadstick as thick as your pinky finger.
If the dough recoils back when you try to stretch it and roll it, you need to let it rest covered for 5 minutes; this way, the dough will "relax" and become easier to stretch.
Always keep the dough pieces covered with cling film when you're not working them to keep them from drying.
Now, you can optionally coat the sourdough breadsticks with herbs and seeds if you like.
To do so, brush each breadstick with a little cold water and sprinkle it with Italian herbs, sesame seeds, semolina or cornmeal.
Then, roll the breadstick back and forth under your palms to make the coating stick to the dough.
Next, transfer the seasoned breadsticks onto a tray lined with baking paper and dusted with a little flour, semolina, or cornmeal.
Leave some space between each breadstick as they will puff up while baking.
At this point, you can either bake the grissini right away or loosely cover them with cling film and let them prove for 1-2 hours at room temperature for a deeper sourdough flavour and a more friable texture.
Preheat the oven to 160°C (320°F) static or 140°C (285°F) fan.
Remove the cling film and bake the sourdough breadsticks for 50 minutes to 1 hour.
Slow-baking the grissini at low temperature is essential to make them super crunchy without burning them as proper grissini must be dry and friable like a cracker.
Cooking them at a higher temperature instead (let's say, at 220°C/430°F for 15 minutes) will make the grissini crusty outside but chewy and soft inside like bread. And we don't want that.
Once ready, transfer the sourdough breadsticks onto a wire rack and let them cool down completely before serving as they will crisp up even more.
These breadsticks are best consumed on the same day, but you can store any leftovers in an air-tight container for 2-3 days.