Fennel Seed Breadsticks
1 1/4 cups water
1 tablespoon barley malt syrup
1 3/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
1/4 cup olive oil
125 grams spelt flour
375 grams unbleached all-purpose flour
10 grams kosher salt
1 tablespoon fennel seeds, slightly crushed
Heat the water a bit warmer than the yeast would like and stir the malt syrup into it until the syrup dissolves, this takes a while as it tends to be reluctant to dissolve. Rewarm the water and syrup mixture if necessary to bring it up to about 105F. Stir the yeast into the water and let it stand until foamy.
Meanwhile, combine the flours and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook. When the yeast mixture has foamed up a bit, add it to the flour mixture along with the olive oil. Mix until the dough comes together and knead on low speed for a few minutes, working in the fennel seeds towards the end.
Turn the dough out and knead briefly by hand on a lightly floured surface. Pat the dough into a 14 X 4-inch rectangle and set it on a surface that has been lightly dusted with semolina flour. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise at room temperature for 1 hour.
Preheat the oven to 450F about 15 minutes or more before the dough is done rising. Position one rack in the upper third of the oven and another rack in the lower third.
Sprinkle the risen dough with semolina flour. Cut the dough crosswise (the short way) into 1/2-inch wide strips, or a bit thicker for the end pieces if the ends of the rectangle are rounded. You should have about 22 strips. Use 2 rimless 13.5 X 15-inch baking sheets, or you can turn 2 rimmed baking sheets of a similar size upside down. I like to roll each strip through the semolina flour on the work surface to lightly coat the cut sides. Pick up one strip and holding each end of the strip in with your fingers, pull and stretch the piece of dough to fit the baking pan crosswise. Continue with the rest of the dough strips until both pans are filled with the strips of dough. The strips may shrink a bit, just stretch them a bit more as they lay on the pan, so that they fit from one edge of the pan to the other.
No need to let the sticks rise a second time, put them in the preheated oven and immediately turn the oven down to 400F. Bake for 10 minutes and then rotate the pans from the top rack to the bottom rack and vice versa. Bake another 10 minutes. At this point I like to turn the oven off, open the door, but leave the bread sticks in the oven for about 30 minutes. This makes them extra crispy, the way I like them. But you may prefer to just take them out and let them cool on the pans on a cooling rack.
The sage flavored bread sticks were the same recipe, except I used 100 grams of regular whole wheat flour (spelt flour is also good) and 400 grams of unbleached all-purpose flour. Substitute 1/4 cup chopped fresh sage for the fennel seeds. A teaspoon of ground black pepper is also a nice addition.
You can also make the recipe with all unbleached all-purpose flour, 500 grams (3 3/4 cups).
About This Blog
This is, as the title indicates, my kitchen notebook (the header is actually a scanned image of the cover of a notebook that I started using about 25 years ago and the background is a stained page from that book). I am not a professional recipe writer. If you try any recipe here, please keep that in mind, these recipes have not been tested by an independent tester. The "recipes" are often not even really recipes but rather a list of ingredients that I've noted after preparing a dish on the fly that I thought came out well. Perhaps I've also added some instructions, but I rarely keep accurate track of what I've done in terms of time or temperature, I've just noted to the best of my memory (feeble) what I did.
Please feel free to take some inspiration from here, but on the other hand, please give credit where it is due. I also welcome any constructive comments that you might have if you are inspired to try a recipe. Questions are welcome, but keep in mind that I may not remember specifics. The dishes do evolve over time...
Thank you and enjoy!