Monday, May 31, 2010

Grissini


Sorry! I’ve never been to Turin so I don’t really know what a Grissini Torinesi or a Turin Breadstick should be like. Clearly, I’d be out of line to generalize from what I’ve sampled in the Italian-American restaurants I’ve visited.

According to Carol Fields, grissini should be “thick and irregular” with a “crunch and an earthy taste” that’s “redolent of the countryside and the old ways”. While that’s a start, in judging Hamelman recipe for grissini, what I should really do is put the issue of authenticity aside and describe the results I got. And what I got was mixed results.

The flavor was excellent. I’m munching on a bread stick even as I write. (Actually, I got one out of the freeze so I could say that.) I made the original recipe (plan) and both variations (roasted garlic and Parmesan). All tasted excellent. In the variations, the garlic and Parmesan were well balanced, not overwhelming but clearly present.

But despite the flavor, I was not overwhelmed by these breadsticks. Mine were certainly irregular and rustic looking, but were pencil thin, not thick. No doubt, this was Hamelman’s intention. And, while that might not be what Carol Field expects, it’s not a problem for me. The real problem is that the breadsticks did not brown well and lacked the crunch I’d expect from a thin breadstick. When making the variations, I tried upping the cooking time from 20 to 25 minutes, but that didn’t help. I also tried an egg glaze on some without much luck. (I also tried shorter, thicker breadsticks, but that exacerbated the problem.) Still, the taste is great.

So … this is a recipe that I’m not done with. Where do I go from here? It turns out, there are still lots of things to try. When I cooked these, I used a parchment lined baking sheet. I suspect this was a mistake so I plan to try these again without the parchment. I’d also like to see what effect a baking stone has. A higher temperature is also a reasonable thing to try. (Field says that in Turin these were traditionally baked on the floor of a wood burning stove.) I’d also like to try Field’s recipe to see how it compares. Finally, there are numerous variations to try. Hamelman suggests several and there are a half dozen or so variations in “The Italian Baker”.

I’ve made three trips to the freezer since I started writing this, so it’s time to stop. More to follow ….

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