Saturday, 31 January 2009
Saffron and basil breadsticks - belatedly
Oh dear - our semester doesn't start until next week and already it's proving hard to find time for blogging! This is a post which has been waiting to be written for ages - since the Night Before Christmas in fact (yes truly!). I actually made it with a mind to sending it in for December's Bread Baking Day which had seasonal breads as a theme that year. I even managed to make it just in time for the deadline - and then completely forgot to post about it. Sigh. Still, I didn't forget to take it with us to Granny T's, where it was destined to be a contribution to our Christmas Eve dinner. I didn't want to make anything very sweet which most Christmassy breads seem to be, so in the end I decided to make some breadsticks spiced up with one of the flavours traditional in festive and enriched breads: saffron. The basil was from my increasingly straggly home-grown pot, but it stood up to give a sturdy tastiness against the subtle fragrance of the saffron. I was guided by The Scientist's preference for crunchy breadsticks but you could easily take them out of the oven a bit sooner if you like them softer. Or you could make them thicker to make them breadier still. All this time later I can't actually remember what we ate them with, but they were very popular and have been marked down to try with a whole lot of other flavours in the future: garlic would be great, as would a tasty cheese I should think. Meanwhile you can see the seasonal breads which did make the deadline over at Annarasa's blog!
Saffron and basil breadsticks (from Martha Day's Complete Baking)
Makes 32 sticks
generous pinch of saffron strands (or turmeric if unavailable)
2 tbsp hot water
450g strong white flour
1 tsp salt
2 tsp easy-blend dried yeast
1/2 pint lukewarm water
3 tbsp olive oil
3 tbsp chopped fresh basil
Infuse the saffron strands in the hot water for 10 mins
Sift the flour and salt into a large mixing bowl. Stir in the yeast, then make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients. Pour in the lukewarm water and saffron liquid.
Add the oil and basil and mix to a soft dough
Turn out and knead the dough on a lightly floured surface for about 10 mins until smooth and elastic. Place in a greased bowl, cover with clear film and leave for about 1 hour until it has doubled in size.
Knock back and knead the dough on a lightly floured surface for 2-3 mins
Preheat the oven to 220C/Gas 7. Divide the dough into 32 pieces and shape into long sticks. Place well apart on greased baking trays, then leave for a further 15=20 minutes until they become puffy. Bake for about 15 mins until crisp and golden. Serve warm.