The noble history of grissini
Native to Turin, the bustling capital of the northern Italian region of Piedmont, grissini are long, irregular shaped and irresistibly crunchy breadsticks. Their origin date back to the end of the 17th century where it is said local baker, Antonio Brunero, was commissioned by the court doctor to create a bread which could be easily digested for the young Duke Vittorio Amedeo II of Savoy who suffered from health problems. The grissini were a monumental success and became a favourite staple among the Torinesi, with the rest of Italy being graced with grissini later down the line.
Amid the most fervent grissini fans was Napoleon Bonaparte, whose fandom extended to him founding a stagecoach service between Turin and Paris at the beginning of the 19th century. Its prime objective being to deliver “les petit batons de Turin” to the military leader’s front door.
Nowadays grissini are widely enjoyed as a satisfyingly savoury antipasto, occasionally wrapped in prosciutto di parma (parma ham) for extra salty indulgence, to be eaten alongside a delightfully fresh aperitivo beverage, such as the honourable Campari Spritz, another invention made within the Piedmont borders.
Our grissini recipe
Makes 25 grissini
94kcal per grissini
Prep time: 15 minutes
Proving time: 1 hour
Cooking time: 18-25 mins (dependant on thickness)
- 1 ¾ teaspoons of active dry yeast
- 15ml molasses or honey
- 300ml warm water
- 30ml olive oil (plus extra for brushing the grissini)
- 500g strong white bread flour is best but plain flour also can be used (plus more for work surface)
- 1 ½ teaspoons salt
- 70g semolina or cornmeal flour (for creating an artisanal outer texture)
- Instead of semolina you can use flavourings to sprinkle with: any seeds (e.g., poppyseed, sesame seeds are delicious), parmesan, chopped fresh rosemary or dried herbs. (optional)
- Pour the warm water into a large mixing bowl and stir in the yeast and molasses or honey. Leave to stand for around 10 minutes, until it begins to turn foamy.
Kneading by hand
- Stir in the olive oil and begin to incorporate the flour and salt. Stir using a wooden spoon until the dough begins to come together.
- Turn out onto a floured work surface and knead for around 10 minutes until the dough feels smooth and elastic.
Kneading in a mixer
- Once the water, yeast and honey/molasses mixture is foamy, mix in the oil by hand and then set up the mixer using the dough hook attachment.
- Add the flour and salt and knead at the low-medium speed for 3-4 minutes.
- Finish kneading the dough by hand on a floured work surface until the dough feels soft, smooth and elastic.
Proving, stretching and baking
- Return to the bowl, lightly cover the top with cling film and allow to prove in a warm room for 1 hour, or until doubled in size.
- Preheat the oven to 230°C, line two baking trays with baking parchment and lightly brush with oil.
- Once the dough has doubled in size, place onto a work surface and (if using) sprinkle with the semolina or cornmeal flour. Shape into a rough rectangle, using your hands to loosely stretch it out.
- Using a sharp knife, cut the dough into 4 equal sections, and then cut each section into a further 5 strips – these should look like roughly the width of an index finger.
- The beauty of grissini is that they’re meant to be rustic and uneven. So, picking up one end of each strand of dough, gently pull outwards until the grissini is the length of the baking tray, around 30cm long (and about 1cm thick). If you wish to add a little Italian flare, you can add twists along the dough. Place on the trays allowing sufficient space between each one.
- If using different flavourings, lightly brush the grissini with oil or water and sprinkle with your garnish.
- Bake in the oven for 18-25 minutes until golden brown.
- Allow to cool fully before tucking in & serve with prosciutto di parma or salted butter. Buon appetito!