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Itsy-Bitsy, Teeny-Weeny, Yellow Polka-Dot Grissini

Before I get into anything specifically related to grissini, I just want to share this picture:

I went to the dining hall today to see this absolute unit, which I was informed was the industrial sized pizza dough the pizzeria uses: 50 pounds. I love her.

Now that I have that out of my system, let’s talk grissini.

Grissini are a traditional Torino breadstick, crispy and cronchy and altogether delicious. I thought they were a particularly fun first lab because they don’t require many ingredients or much skill, so it was cool to see how we still managed to mess up.

In preparation for this lab, I dutifully watched the assigned video of how to measure flour, and I followed the technique to the letter with the all purpose flour. However, I was surprised to find that the whole wheat flour was extremely fine. This made it very hard to “fluff” as indicated in the flour instructions and as I measured, my mind wandered to the baking debate about whether to measure by mass or volume, so I definitely got distracted and let some flour get on the counter.

Amisha and I quickly finished measuring out all our dry ingredients in one bowl and our wet in another. We then waited for Group 3 to finish working with our shared food processor, which took quite a while because they didn’t realize that the dropper was in the feeding tube, which definitely slowed their production. Their dough also ended up being too dry, so they had to seek assistance for problem solving. What had previously seemed a simple task suddenly became a daunting challenge, but Amisha and I were still confident we could learn from the mistakes of Group 3 and get this bread.

Soon enough, it was our turn with the processor. We slowly poured in our liquid through the feed tube (sans dribbler) and the dough came together much more quickly than we expected. We also had no issues with moisture, likely due to our superior measuring powers (and the extra fat in whole wheat flour). We turned our dough out into a well Pam-ed bowl and rejoiced.

We got that bread! Ya yeast!

After a short interlude during which our dough rose and we played with different flour types, it was time to form our grissini. We started by shaping it into a rough rectangle.

Next, we cut off strips and rolled them out to be about pinky finger thickness. The first strip I cut was too thin and had to be balled back up and redone. I did find that the one that I had to redo was much harder to work the second time around and had some pretty fierce springback, so I wonder if maybe the gluten developed too far. Is that a thing?

As I cut and rolled our grissini, Amisha applied the seeds and their signature twist. She also arranged them in the baking pans, which was great because I have really bad spatial reasoning (fun fact!). She also commented that the one grissino I had reformed was resisting the application of the twist.

We allowed our sticks to puff up just a bit more before placing them into our preheated oven.

We also had some trouble developing color and crust, so we cranked up the temperature a bit towards the end, which seemed to help them brown, but our end result was still very soft rather than crispy, tearing rather than breaking.

Our grissino, the whole wheat one, was much darker in color when compared to Group 3’s bread flour grissino. This is due to the inclusion of the bran and the germ in whole wheat flour rather than just bleached endosperm like bread flour.

I know you’re wondering how our grissini turned out so let me tell you:

salty

Their texture was a little too soft, as was that of the bread flour grissini. This could be due to persisting issues in oven temperature or just not cooking them long enough. However, our grissini were just too salty. I’m sure we must have just misread that measurement or something, but it was definitely disappointing after all our hard work.

PS: Flour Types

This final gallery demonstrates the differences that protein content created in even the most basic doughs made only of flour and water. The flours with the highest protein contents (whole wheat and bread) have the most cohesive balls of dough. All purpose flour is more liquidy and cake flour has the least structure of all. This shows how protein content affects structure.

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