Seeded Bread Stick Twists
These attractive bread sticks, with barber-pole-esque twists of seeds, can really jazz up a buffet. There are three ways to make the dough: with a stand mixer, in a food processor, or by hand. I often sprinkle three or four different seeds onto the dough in separate sections to cut out a variety of strips, or I’ll use a combination for an “everything” version. Serve with: Italian pasta dishes; salads; soups.
14bread sticks
14bread sticks
  • 1 1/4cups cold water
  • 1tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for the bowl
  • One1/4-ounce (2 1/4 teaspoons) package Instant (also called quick-rising or bread-machine) yeast
  • 1 1/2teaspoons table or fine sea salt
  • 1teaspoon sugar
  • 3 1/4cups (455 g) unbleached all-purpose flouras needed
  • 1large egg white
  • pinch of table or fine sea salt
  • 3tablespoons sesame, black sesame, poppy, flax, caraway, or nigella (see Note) seeds
  1. To make the dough in a stand mixer: Combine the water, oil, yeast, salt, and honey in the bowl of a heavy-duty stand mixer. Fit the mixer with the paddle attachment. On low speed, gradually add enough flour to make a soft dough that cleans the sides of the bowl. Change to the dough hook. Mix on medium-low speed until the dough is supple and elastic, occasionally pulling the dough down as it climbs up the dough hook, about 8 minutes. Shape the dough into a ball. To make the dough in a food processor: Add the flour, oil, yeast, salt, and honey to the bowl of a food processor fitted with the chopping blade. With the machine running, add enough of the water to make a ball that rides on top of the blade (it will take about 30 seconds of processing for the dough to reach this consistency). If the dough is too dry, add water, a tablespoon at a time, and process again. If the dough is too wet, add flour, a tablespoon at a time, and process again. One the ball has formed, process the dough until smooth, about 45 seconds. If the amount of dough strains the processor and it “walks,” divide the dough into two equal portions, process each for 45 seconds, then shape them together into a single ball. To make the dough by hand: Combine the water, oil, yeast, salt, and honey in a large bowl. Stir in enough flour to make a stiff dough that can’t be stirred. Transfer to a floured work surface and knead, adding more flour as necessary, to make a soft, elastic dough, about 8 minutes. Shape the dough into a ball.
  2. Oil a medium bowl. Add the ball of dough, smooth side down, and turn it over to coat the dough with oil. Cover tightly with plastic wrap. Put the dough in a warm, draft-free place (an oven with a turned-on light bulb is the perfect location). Let stand until the dough has doubled in volume and a finger inserted in the dough leaves an impression that is slow to fill in, about 1½ hours. (Or refrigerate the dough for at least 12 and up to 36 hours. This dough is easier to work with if chilled.)
  3. Turn out the dough onto an unfloured work surface and shape into a rough rectangle. Dust the top of the dough with flour. Roll the dough into a 13 by-9-inch rectangle with the long side facing you. Using a fork, beat the egg white and salt together in a small bowl until foamy. Lightly brush the surface of the dough with the egg white mixture. Sprinkle the seeds evenly over the brushed dough and pat gently to help them adhere.
  4. Line two rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper. Using a pizza wheel or a sharp knife, cut the dough from top to bottom into 14 strips, each about ¾ inch wide. One dough strip at a time, lifting it just off the work surface, twist the dough, being sure to occasionally lift it up at the center (any part of the strip that touches the work surface will not twist) into a corkscrew-shape about 12 inches long. Transfer the strip to the baking sheet and reshape as necessary. (The dough is soft and will stretch.) Arrange the twists 1 inch apart on the baking sheet. Cover the sheets with plastic wrap and let stand in a warm place until they look somewhat puffy, about 30 minutes (or about 2 hours for if using chilled dough).
  5. Position racks in the top third and center of the oven and preheat the oven to 400ºF. Uncover the bread twists. Bake until they are lightly browned, switching the positions of the pans from front to back and top to bottom halfway through baking, about 20 minutes. Let cool on the pans. (The bread twists can be frozen in freezer bags for up to 2 weeks. Thaw the twists before serving.)
  6. Note: Nigella seeds have a distinct onion flavor, and they are sometimes called black onion seeds, even though they are unrelated to the Lilium family. They are easily available at Indian markets, spice stores, and online. Like all seeds, store nigella seeds in an airtight container in the refrigerator or freezer, and they will keep for about a year. Use them in savory baking or sprinkle the oniony seeds on salads or dips.