Departing from the sweet side, this week's Sunday Slow Bakers challenge (chosen by Colleen) was Babbo Breadsticks from Gina DePalma's Dolce Italiano. In the recipe notes Gina refers to their rough, homemade appearance and I think I really took to this description. My breadsticks were irregular, somewhat lumpy in spots and definitely rustic looking. But I did take another bit of her advice and presented them standing up in a tall pretty glass. Not only does it look better, but it makes it really easy to keep grabbing another to snack on. Did I mention that these things are addictive?
These breadsticks are really flavorful. The small amount of cayenne pepper (1/2 teaspoon) adds just the right amount of spiciness. And the 1/2 cup of Parmigiano-Reggiano, plus more for garnish, makes them deliciously cheesy.
The recipe is pretty straightforward. I followed her directions, but didn't use her suggestion for making it ahead and letting it rise overnight in the refrigerator. I planned to eat them the same day I started them. But that is a good suggestion if you are making them for a party.
I used the dough hook on my stand mixer and the dough came out smooth though a little sticky. I found that I needed plenty of flour on my hands and board to work with it. After letting it rise for two hours, I began forming my breadsticks.
So, I really fussed over the first one. I got out the tape measure so I could get it 14 inches and I tried to roll it as evenly as possible. Of course it still looked pretty rough and I realized that if I was going to do 30 of them that it was going to take hours. So I set aside the tape measure and just grabbed each bit of dough and rolled them out fast and furious. I rolled them vertically between my two palms with the classic preschool technique that one uses when making brightly colored play-doh snakes. Yes, they looked rustic, but they got done and into the oven before everyone starved to death.
I tried baked half on parchment paper (as the recipe directed) and half on Silpat liners. I couldn't tell the difference between the two, so in the interest of saving paper, I might do them just on the Silpat next time. Gina says that the recipe makes about 30 and I ended up with exactly 32. She suggests using 3 baking sheets with 10 to 11 per sheet. I only have two racks in my oven and only two baking sheets, so I did them in two batches. I reused the parchment paper on the second batch and it didn't seem to be a problem. Mine did take a couple minutes longer—16 minutes instead of the 12-14 minutes in the recipe—so my oven might be slightly off.
Once out of the oven, they do not take long to cool. You should pick the ugliest one and sample it right away. They are delicious while still warm, so I like her idea of reheating them before serving. But I also served them cool with dinner and no one complained. They went quite nicely with a Caprese Salad and some Shrimp Scampi. Luckily, there are still some left and I'll see how they taste the next day. I can't promise, however, that any will last the two days that she says they will last. Did I mention that these things are addictive?