I haven’t taken part in blog events lately – I never seem to keep the deadlines in mind – but picnics are something I hold very dear and they are the theme for this “Waiter, there’s something in my...”, hosted by Johanna, Jeanne and Andrew.
When I was little, my parents used to take me and my brother to parks on the weekends, and we had wonderful picnics there (I once wrote about it here). To this day I can remember the towel over the grass and all the yummy snacks prepared by Mom – she was a magnificent cook/baker.
After she was gone, my paternal grandmother - who looked after us for a couple of years - would let my brother and I have picnics on the living room; she would lay the towel on the carpet for us to eat, just like my mom did on the grass.
These delicious bread sticks are my contribution to the event. Just stay away from them as they come out of the oven – otherwise, there will be none left for the picnic.
Olive, herb and parmesan sticks
from Dough: Simple Contemporary Breads
5g fresh yeast or ½ envelope (3.5g) active dry yeast – I used dry
250g white bread flour
1 teaspoon salt
¾ cup (180ml) water, room temperature
¾ cup purple olives, such as Kalamata, with pits in
1 cup grated parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon herbes de Provence
cornmeal, for dusting – I didn’t have any at home, so I used flour instead
Start with the dough: using a mixer with the dough hook, put the flour in the mixer bowl and rub in the yeast (if using dry, just mix in). Switch the mixer onto the slowest speed, add the salt and then the water, and mix for 2 minutes, then turn up to the next slowest speed and mix for another 6-7 minutes until the dough becomes smooth and elastic. Remove the dough from the bowl, transfer to a lightly floured counter and mold into a ball.
Place in a lightly floured large bowl, cover with plastic/cling film and let rise in a draft-free area for 1 hour.
Make the filling: pit the olives and cut each one roughly into three (I cut into more pieces). Mix the olives, cheese and herbs together in a bowl. Set aside.
Assembling: with the help of the rounded end of your scraper, turn the dough onto the counter, lightly dusted with cornmeal. Using your hand, flatten out a rectangle about ¾-inch (2cm) thick. Sprinkle the filling on top and press it into the dough with your fingertips. Fold one third of the dough into the center and press down with your fingertips. Then fold the opposite side over on top (as if you were folding a letter to put into an envelope). Press with the palms of your hands to work the olives into the dough. With the flat edge of your scraper, cut the dough widthwise into 10-12 strips about ½-inch (1cm) wide. Flour the counter with cornmeal. Twist each strip (I pressed the sides together so the filling wouldn’t fall off) and roll them a little on the counter so they stretch to the length of your baking try (nonstick or covered with foil so the cheese in the dough won’t stick to the tray) and place the strips on top, leaving a gap between them – 1 inch (2.5cm) is fine.
Cover with a lintfree dishtowel and let rise for 30-45 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 220ºC/428ºF; put the baking dish into the oven and mist the inside with a water spray. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until golden brown.
Use a spatula to lift them from the baking tray. Cool on a wire rack.
Makes 10-12 – I got 16