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Tuesday, April 29, 2014

spanish tapas: breadsticks


Spanish Tapas are a lovely change to standard cooking regimes, especially with summer coming on. You can arrange a variety of little dishes, warm and cold, prepared ahead and made fresh, and spark your inner chef with creativity.

Breadsticks are a fabulous staple for a tapas meal. These are pretty straightforward, but if you are not familiar with bread baking or handling dough, I suggest you read my bread tutorial first, as I won't be providing you with every detail of instructions here.

1 lb 2 oz (4 1/3 c) whole grain hard white wheat flour, or the best quality strong whole wheat bread flour you can find
2 tsp olive oil
1 tsp fine ground Celtic sea salt
1/4 oz (2 tsp) dried active yeast, or 1/2 oz fresh yeast
12 oz tepid water
optional sesame seeds
optional course Celtic sea salt

In a large bowl, combine flour, oil and salt.
Make a well and add yeast, followed by water. Let froth, then mix and form into a ball.

Knead dough for 10 minutes.
Let it rest, covered by a lightly damp cloth, for 10 minutes. Preheat oven to 400 F, or 200 C.
Knead for another 10 minutes.

Divide into 1 oz balls -- about 16 pieces from a standard batch of dough -- and roll into long skinny sticks of about 8 inches long.
Roll through sesame seeds or course salt if desired. No further oil or binding should be necessary.

To form soft pretzels, roll out to 10 inches long. Loop the strand in half, forming a long U with the bend at the far side from you. Grab the bend of the U and twist once over, forming a fold half way down the length. Loop the two tails up in bends around the sides and secure them underneath the top loop. Classic pretzel shape.

Bake at 400 F for 15 to 20 minutes, until browned and baked well. You can choose to bake these to a soft doneness, or bake a few minutes longer until they have more snap to them. Store in an airtight container for several days, or freeze extras. Slightly stale breadsticks go well with certain tapas, providing the staleness is dry and there is absolutely no evidence of mold.


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