Grissini are classic bread sticks. Years ago working as a cook at the Sony Club, we made them in-house. Actually the job was reserved for the intern cook. At the time, it seemed a torturous process, maybe because you had to get them done before lunch. Years later I met a former intern and he still remembered the grind. In retrospect, they aren't that tough to make but when you're under pressure to produce them in the dozens, well, it could be demanding. And they were enjoyed by the many entertainment senior executives who dined at our dining room back then. They were addictively good to nibble. Today with the help of a pasta roller and fettuccine cutter, never mind some time on your hand, you can make them at home and enjoy.
Here's the recipe.
In a small bowl gently stir the yeast into 1/4 cup of the warm water. Add the sugar and
let the mixture rest in a warm place for 10 to 15 minutes until it is creamy.
Sift together the 6 1/4 cups flour, salt, and pepper into a large bowl and make a
well in the center.
Add the yeast mixture, the remaining 1 3/4 cups water, the 1/4 cup oil,
and the rosemary and sage to the well.
Using a fork, gradually draw the flour into the liquid in the well.
When the dough is too stiff to stir with the fork, use your hands to
work in the remaining flour.
Turn the dough out onto a floured pastry board and knead until smooth,
elastic, and not sticky, about 10 minutes.
If the dough is still sticky, add a little more flour. Pat the dough into a ball.
Oil a clean bowl and place the ball of dough in it.
Brush a little oil on top. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.
When it is time to make the breadsticks on the following day, preheat an oven to 350°F.
Generously oil 4 baking sheets with olive oil.
Take a large handful of dough from the bowl in the refrigerator,
leaving the remainder covered and refrigerated,
and place it on a lightly floured board. Roll it out as thinly as you can by hand.
Dust it with flour and pass it through the rollers of the pasta machine at the
first setting (largest opening) to flatten it further.
Now fold it in thirds as you would a letter, overlapping
the top third and then the bottom third over the middle third.
(This will give the dough a uniform shape.)
Dust the folded dough lightly with flour and pass it through the first setting again, feeding it from one of its open ends.
Now pass the dough through the fettuccine-cutting attachment. The grissini will be very long — about 1 foot in length —
which give them a dramatic effect in a bread basket on the table. Arrange the grissini well spaced on a prepared baking sheet.
Brush generously with more olive oil.
Repeat with the remaining dough, working with a large handful at a time.
Fill only as many baking sheets as will fit in your oven comfortably.
Bake in the preheated oven until golden, about 35 minutes. Remove to wire racks to cool.
Form and bake the remaining grissini in the same manner. Serve them stacked in an oblong bread basket,
or standing up in an attractive vessel deep enough to contain them. To store, place them in airtight metal or plastic