1 cup warm water
1 package active dry yeast or 1 tablespoon bulk yeast
1 teaspoon sugar
2 teaspoons salt
Bread Flour, several cups (I really like King Arthur flour!)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 cup sesame seed (or more)
1/2 cup poppy seed (or more)
Unless you are very wealthy, go to Mother Earth or another health-food store to get poppyseed and sesame seed. They are sold there in bulk many times cheaper than the little bottles you find at Publix and other supermarkets. While you are there, get a bulk package of active dry yeast. It is about $3. per pound, as compared to Fleischmann's which is perhaps $100. per pound. This will allow you to make lots of bread and other yeasty things at reasonable cost. Put the yeast in a jar with a tight lid and keep it in the refrigerator. It will keep for about a year this way.
Note that the Food Processor Bread Dough can be used for this recipe.
Get out a large, deep bowl of at least two quarts capacity. Fill it with moderately hot water (hot bath temperature) and let it sit a few minutes. Pour the hot water into a saucepan and set the bowl over it so that the bowl seals-in the hot water. This is to keep the bowl warm. A few minutes devoted to this little ritual can save an hour or more of rising time because if your dough gets cold it will take a long time to recover and rise.
Pour a cup of warm water in the bowl, dissolve the sugar in it and sprinkle on the yeast. Cover the bowl with a plate or something and let it sit for a few minutes until the yeast foams up and rises to the surface. Add the salt and stir-in a cup or so of flour. Add more flour, a little at a time, and stir after each addition until a stiff dough is formed. Knead it a few dozen times to get it smooth. Pour about a tablespoon of oil over the dough and flop it around until all sides are oiled. Cover the dough-bowl, place it back over the pan of warm water, and put it all in a warm place.
Once the dough has risen to double or more it's original size, sprinkle a good layer of flour on a large clean work-surface and dump the dough on it. Sprinkle more flour on the dough and roll it out to a thickness of 1/4 to 3/8 inch. Beat the egg until it is foamy, pour some of it on the dough and spread it out until it covers the entire surface. It will mix with the loose flour on the dough, forming a sort of edible glue. Sprinkle heavily with the poppy-seeds, until you can no longer see any spots of dough peeking through. Pat the seeds down to get them wet with the egg, and add more seeds to any really wet spots.
Slide a spatula under the dough to unstick it from the counter, and flip it over so the seed-side is down. This takes a bit of dexterity, and may be more feasible if you cut the dough in half and flip one piece at a time. Spread this side with egg and coat it with sesame seeds.
Cut the dough into narrow strips, each about as wide as it is tall. A large French chef's knife is invaluable for this, but if you don't have one a pizza cutter might do. Pick up each strip after you cut it, give it a twist, and lay it on a baking pan. The twist makes a spiral of light and dark seeds. Place them on the pans at least an inch apart. Let rise in a warm place for 30 minutes to an hour. They don't have to rise a lot, but the more they rise the bigger and lighter they will be.
Bake at 325 degrees for about 10 minutes until set. Do not try to brown them now. If any of them start to brown the pan should be removed from the oven, the breadsticks knocked loose and allowed to cool. Be sure to sample them at this point. Cooks must be reinforced for their labors.
After all of the pans have been baked until set, put them all on a couple of baking pans and return to the oven. Reduce the temperature to 250 degrees and cook for an hour or more until they are very lightly browned all over, dry and crunchy.
I like to sprinkle a little olive oil over the breadsticks just before baking them. It adds richness and calories. Don't be concerned if most of the oil misses the breadsticks; the heat will cause it to migrate to them and adsorb.
Sometimes I will sprinkle salt or sugar over the dough just after the egg has been smeared and before the seeds are added. This is to give the seed-coat a salty or sweet taste. Herbs or spices might also be interesting here; use your judgment.
Hot Garlic Breadsticks
Same deal but easier. Make the dough and cut it into strips but don't use any egg or seeds. Twist them only if you want to. While they are rising, put 1/4 cup olive oil in a small pan with a dry cayenne pepper that has been broken up (or a teaspoon of hot pepper flakes) and a clove or two of minced garlic. Heat until the garlic begins to brown, remove from heat and let it cool. Strain the oil through a tea-strainer and drizzle it on the breadsticks just before the first baking.
The dough in this recipe is exactly the same as pizza dough except that for pizza, the dough is made a little softer, and more olive oil is used to coat it. Also, use 1 teaspoon salt, not 2. Make the dough and let it rise. Spread a tablespoon or two of olive oil on a pizza pan, dump the dough on it and mash it flat. Bake this in a 450 degree oven for about three minutes until it is set. Take it out and top with pizza sauce, herbs & spices, cheeses & toppings, and return to the oven. Cook at 450 degrees until the cheese begins to bubble. Don't let the cheese brown; overcooked cheese tastes like death.
Here is my version of pizza sauce:
1 medium onion, minced finely
1/4 cup olive oil
10-12 cloves fresh garlic, pressed or finely minced
1 large (28 oz) can Progresso Crushed Tomatoes with Added Puree
5-7 tablespoons Louisiana Hot Sauce
6 tablespoons sugar
2 cups water.
Please do not wince at the amounts of garlic, hot sauce or sugar in this recipe. It must have a sweet kick to work right. Cook the onion in the olive oil for a minute or two but do not brown it. Add everything else and simmer uncovered for at least a half-hour. If it gets thick, add more water; pizza sauce should be "saucy," not stiff.
Spread some of this on your hot, thick crust and sprinkle heavily with
sweet basil (note that I did not say oregano!) Top this with grated
parmesan and/or Romano cheese and shredded mozzarella and/or provolone,
then with whatever other toppings you want.
Serve with red wine, a salad, and good company-preferably including me!
For a detailed version of the pizza recipe, click here.
Jimmy Yawn 1/28/93