The Belgian Beer Fest Breadsticks

by A.J. Coltrane

Breadsticks for the recent Belgian Beer Fest, somewhat overexposed:

160201 bread sticks

The Formula (I made 3 batches):  400 grams all-purpose flour, 240 grams cool water (60%), 10 grams kosher salt (2.5%), 8 grams olive oil (2%), 1/4 tsp instant yeast.

  1.  Mix on low speed 10 minutes. Transfer to an oil-coated bowl, lightly coat the dough with oil. Cover. Refrigerate 1-3 days. (I put these in the fridge on Thursday night and pulled them out of the refrigerator at 5 am for an 11 am departure time. I had some time left over, but that’s better than transporting them hot and steamy.)
  2.   Remove from the refrigerator and allow to warm up for 1.5 – 2 hours. (I then slept in until 7 am.)
  3.   Lightly oil the counter if needed to prevent sticking, then pat the dough out to a 12″ wide by 8″ tall rectangle. The dough will be close to 3/8″ thick.
  4.   Sprinkle your “enhancements” onto the rectangle. I used a little bit of all of:  Himalayan Pink Salt, Sea Salt, Cracked Black Pepper, and Semolina. Parmesan would work. So would sesame seeds. Or herbs. Tons of possibilities.
  5.   Use a pizza cutter to cut into 8 pieces, top to bottom, about 1-1/2″ wide. Each piece is now 1-1/2″ x 8″.   OR:
  6.   Use a pizza cutter to cut into 1″ wide pieces.  Each piece will be 1″ x 8″.
  7.   Twist each piece and place on a Silpat lined sheet tray. When I did mine the pieces “grew” another 3-4 inches, making them almost as long as the 13″ width of the sheet tray.
  8.   Cover with a towel and let rest 1 hour.

The thicker doughs were baked at 425F for 22 minutes.  The thinner doughs were baked at 450F for 17 minutes.

The breadsticks came out crispy on the outside and chewy on the inside. The twisting meant that all of the “enhancement” ingredients were mixed through the dough; it made the breadsticks more interesting and added crunch (semolina) to the interior. It also gave the breadsticks natural “breaking” points. I think I liked the skinny ones a little bit better, but that could have just been personal preference.

Overall it’s an easy, versatile recipe. Using the refrigerator for a slow rise means that the dough can be mixed up to 3 days ahead — the dough will wait. If the breadsticks are being served with dinner cut the salt back to ~2% — the 2.5% salt was intended to stand up to the bold flavors of the beer and help cleanse the palate.

 

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