I’ve been building a collection of sourdough items that are easy vs. hard. Easy as in don’t have to build levain the night before, you don’t have to tend it too much, and same day baked results. With some easy vs. not so much, maintaining a sourdough starter begins to seem like a reasonable investment of the four ingredients, flour, water, effort, and time.
Maurizio Leo’s cookbook, The Perfect Loaf, is a treasure trove of sourdough learning. But the thing that makes his recipes practically guarantee great results—his very detailed mindset and method—can be intimidating. That’s where I hope I can help. The thing with sourdough is you can make it fit your life and your schedule after you experiment and learn for awhile. The essentials are maintaining a healthy starter and learning how to build up more of it (“levain”) to make breads and pastries. Things like breadsticks, you can use your starter, no levain build required. (This works if you keep a “100% hydrated starter”—equal water, or a little more, to the flour when you feed your starter. I reserve 75 grams of starter (using or discarding the “discard”) then add 50 grams each whole grain rye flour and wheat flour (sometimes whole wheat, sometimes all purpose, sometimes some of each, and 125 grams water.)
So, breadsticks. Easily doable during the day for breadsticks at dinner. Here’s what’s ahead, assuming you have room temperature sourdough starter that you fed the eve before: mix (and while you’re at it, feed your starter), pat dough into a long rectangle on an oiled sheet pan, cover with lightly oiled plastic wrap (so it won’t stick to the dough), proof 3 hours (or until you’re ready to bake), then cut, stretch and twist, and bake. Grissini keep well for two or three days standing in a glass on the counter or stored in a paper bag or cloth bread bag. If you don’t have a starter and still want grissini, try my yeasted dough recipe instead.
makes 24 breadsticks
adapted from Maurizio Leo's "Sourdough Breadsticks" in The Perfect Loaf
- 249 grams all-purpose flour
- 76 grams active 100% hydration starter
- 34 grams olive oil
- 6 grams granulated sugar
- 6 grams Kosher salt
- 129 grams water
Add all ingredients to the bowl of a stand mixer and mix for about five minutes using the paddle attachment. Let dough rest 5 minutes. Switch out paddle for the dough hook and mix until dough clings to the hook, about 3 minutes.
Lightly oil a long rectangle stripe about 6-inches wide down the middle of a half-sheet pan (13x18-inch). Pat dough out into a long rectangle about 3x14-inches and transfer to the oiled sheet pan. Cover with lightly oiled plastic wrap and set in a warm place for proofing, about 3 hours, until the dough is lightly puffed up and soft to the touch.
Preheat oven to 350°F, rack in middle. Line a half-sheet pan with parchment. Using a pizza wheel or bench knife, cut the dough crosswise into short strips aiming for 24 pieces. Stretch and twist each strip to about 12-inches and lay on the parchment lined pan, spacing about ½-inch apart. Bake 25 minutes until the grissini begin to turn golden.