After all the indulgence of my last post I wanted to attempt something savoury with a little bit of a challenge to it. I also wanted to delve further into the world of bread making. It’s only really since I have started this blog that I have braved the world of bread. Attempts before my blog were less than desirable but slowly I have been gaining confidence in homemade bread.
I am still a little shy at creating my own bread recipes and basically adapted a Paul Hollywood recipe to suit what I wanted for this bake. I had an abundance of pink peppercorns and basil at home and decided these complementary sweet and mildly spicy flavours would go so well together in bread. I didn’t fancy making rolls and after looking around for a little inspiration I decided on breadsticks!
Breadsticks studded throughout with broken pink peppercorns and basil strips.
There is no reason you couldn’t use other colour peppercorns in these breadsticks, apart from being pretty to look atthe pink ones do have a little sweetness to them.
Just one word of warning, don’t go to mad with the peppercorns. First time I made these I added 2 and 1/2 tablespoons and I could barely eat them, they were far too peppery for me although Mr Bake Then Eat ate them all up but his tolerance for spice and heat in his food is far higher than mine. I found the perfect balance to be between 1 to 1 and 1/2 tablespoons.
You could add anything to these lovely crispy yet soft centred breadsticks. Paul Hollywood’s original recipe uses olives. I think almost any herbs would work in these, rosemary and sea salt would be a nice combination but as I previously mentioned I had some fresh basil that I wanted to use up.
I have to admit the dough was a little sticky and I was worried I had made a mistake but I put my faith in Paul Hollywood and he was right it really is good.
The outside has a lovely crispy texture to it but the centre is soft, if you wanted to make these thinner they would be even crispier but I like mine a little bit thicker and softer so they can soak up those lovely flavoured oils and balsamic vinegars!*Note* I made these using an electric stand mixer but the original recipe does state you can make these the old fashioned way by hand. At least double the kneading times if you are doing it by hand, the dough is very sticky so please be careful when working with it.
- 500 grams strong white bread flour, (4 cups)
- 10 grams sea salt flakes, (1 tablespoon)
- 10 grams fast action yeast, (1 tablespoon)
- 400 millilitres tepid water, (1 and ½ cups + 2 and ½ tablespoons)
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 to 1 and ½ tablespoons pink peppercorns
- 10 grams fresh basil leaves, (1/2 cup)
- Polenta (cornmeal) for dusting
- Lightly oil a large bowl around all its edges and place to one side.
- Lightly bash your peppercorns until they are broken into little pieces and tear your basil up making sure you bruise it so it releases all of its wonderful aromatic oils.
- Put the flour into the bowl of a mixer fitted with a dough hook. Pour the salt down one side of the bowl and the yeast down the other side of the bowl. Add ¾ of the water and begin mixing on a slow speed. As the dough starts to come together add the remaining water.
- Mix for a further 5 to 8 minutes on a medium speed until the dough is still wet but stretches easily when pulled. Now add the olive oil and mix for another 2 minutes.
- Add the broken peppercorns and basil leaves and mix until everything is well incorporated.
- Put the dough into the oiled bowl you have set aside and leave until it has tripled in size in a warm area. This will take at least an hour maybe a little longer.
- Once it has tripled in size line 3 baking sheets with parchment paper and place to one side and pre heat your oven to 220C / 425F / Gas mark 7.
- Heavily dust your work surface with a mix of flour and polenta (cornmeal) and carefully tip your dough on to your surface. It will be very loose and flowing but this is fine, rather than knocking it back handle it carefully to keep as much air in the dough as possible.
- Dust the top of your dough with a little more of your flour and polenta (cornmeal) mix. Then stretch the dough out roughly to a rectangle shape.
- Starting at the long edge cut the dough into at least 15 strips; you may get 14 or even 16.
- Stretch each piece out until 8 to 10 inches long. Place the sticks on your lined baking sheets.
- Bake the dough sticks for 10 to 15 minutes until they have a lovely golden hue to them and they can be picked up and tapped on the bottom and sound hollow.
- Cool them down on a wire rack.
- Like most homemade bread products they are best eaten on the day of baking but can be kept up to three days in an airtight tin they are best heated up in the oven for a few minutes if eaten after the day of baking.