Grissini breadsticks are eaten all over Italy, but nowhere with more appetite than in Piedmont. In the Northeastern corner of Italy, grissini breadsticks are bought fresh from the baker, while other regions are content with pre-made supermarket versions.
According to the Italian Wikipedia, grissini breadsticks were invented in 1679 upon request of the Torino courts doctor. Apparently the young Vittorio Amedeo II di Savoia could not digest breadcrumbs, so the court’s baker, Antonio Brunero, was asked to develop a bread without a crumb. It soon became widely popular thanks to the fact that the long breadsticks could keep for weeks without deteriorating.
The classic grissini breadsticks are 40-80 cm long, but I find the shorter version more manageable.
2½ g dry yeast
200 tepid water
300 g flour
2 tsp salt
50 ml olive oil
Dissolve the yeast in warm water
Mix flour and salt
Stir water and olive oil into the flour to make a dough
Knead vigorously for a looong time
Coat the dough in olive oil and leave it in a bowl sealed with cling film for 1 hour
Cut the dough in quarters and shape one quarter at a time, while the other quarters remain under the cling film.
Cut each quarter in 8 pieces and roll them into breadsticks
Dip some of the sticks in sesame seeds and place them on a pan covered in baking paper
Bake at 180 C / 360 F for 15-20 minutes until they are thoroughly dry
Don’t leave the grissini breadsticks while they are in the oven, as they burn easily and the temperature and timing vary with the size of the sticks.
Use grissini breadsticks as an aperitif along with taralli, dip them in hummus or pesto or wrap cured ham, pancetta or lardo around them and serve them as an antipasto.