Great British Baking Show mania has taken over our home. Obviously, I love baking, so it’s a no-brainer for me. But to my surprise, it’s the little dude begging to watch the next episode. One Sunday in church, he leaned over to me and whispered, “I’m so sad Norman got voted out”. Who knew baking would bind the heart of a 9-year-old American boy with a Scottish pensioner? So sweet.
We’ve now moved on to Season 2, and the “breadstick” episode captured Jack’s fancy. He went to bed dreaming about his perfect breadstick “Olives and rosemary, that would be good, right?”. I woke up Saturday morning to his bright freckles and grin at my bedside asking “Are you ready to bake?”
Coffee, dude. I need coffee before tackling grissini.
While I sipped coffee, I let him do the research. He searched the Herbfarm Cookbook, Tartine, Barefoot Contessa, Julia, Breadbaker’s Apprentice, and eventually settled on an adapted King Arthur Flour recipe.
After picking a recipe, the sky is the limit on flavors. Olive and rosemary? Perfect. So is sesame and salt. Those weird nigella seeds we bought on vacation in Seattle ? Perfect again.
In the Great British Baking Show episode, Paul and Mary were very particular about “crisp” breadsticks. Soggy breadsticks were cause for shame. To Jack’s delight, these all turned out crisp. I had to stop him from snapping them in half to check if they were all crispy!
I could probably munch on these all day, but if you’re feeling like a meal needs to happen…homemade tomato soup brings it together in a snap.
On your marks, get ready…Bake!
Homemade Crispy Breadsticks
- 2 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 teaspoons yeast
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1 cup water
- Mix ins: Fresh herbs, chopped olives, citrus zest, roasted garlic
- Toppings: Sesame seeds, poppy seeds, coarse salt, nigella seeds
- Combine all the dough ingredients together and knead by hand or in a mixer until smooth. Add more flour if the dough is too sticky.
- Add any mix-ins at the end.
- Cover and let the dough rise for 1 1/2 hours, until doubled in size.
- Roll the dough out into a long rectangle 10in x 20in.
- Brush with olive oil and sprinkle with seeds and/or salt.
- Use a pizza wheel to cut into 1/2 inch strips. Twist or shape as desired.
- Transfer to a parchment-lined baking sheet, cover and let rest while the oven preheats.
- Preheat oven to 425. Bake the grissini for 12-14 minutes until golden brown, and not soft. Watch them carefully at the end, they can turn from golden to burnt in a flash.
Homemade Tomato Soup
This isn't much of a recipe, because canned tomatoes are so variable. Sometimes you need salt, sometimes sugar, sometimes a squeeze of lemon juice to brighten things up. I've tried all varieties from the expensive San Marzanos to typical American brands like Hunts and Muir Glen (keeping notes, of course). I like our local Spartan brand whole tomatoes the best, go figure.
- 1 onion, minced
- 1 small clove garlic minced
- Olive oil
- 2 large cans whole tomatoes
- Fresh basil
- Salt, sugar, black pepper, lemon juice to taste
- Saute the onion with olive oil in a medium saucepan until soft. Add garlic and stir until fragrant.
- Blend the whole tomatoes with the sauteed onions and garlic in blender until smooth and creamy.
- Return the pureed soup to the saucepan with a sprig of basil, heat slowly until simmering.
- Add salt, sugar or lemon juice as needed until the soup tastes perfect.
- Remove the sprig of basil before serving. Garnish each bowl with some fresh basil leaves and a drizzle of olive oil.