I adore breadsticks. They're nice at the dinner table with just a touch of butter, make a great little snack, and a lot easier to make than most people imagine.
As a snack, breadsticks aren't the worst you could do. They're not as salt-laden as pretzels or chips, nor are they sugary like cookies. And if you're making them yourself, you can opt for more whole grains, or top them with your favorite seeds or nuts.
For these, I used both caraway seeds and nigella seeds, both of which are optional. I also added extra gluten (also optional). It makes these breadsticks easier to handle, but it's not critical if you don't have any on hand.
Another great thing about breadsticks? The crispy version have an extremely long shelf life. Unlike a moist bread that can get moldy, these are dry-like crackers—and since they're already dry, they don't dry out and get stale. In theory, they can last a long time. In practice, they disappear pretty quickly.
Since I bake a lot of breadsticks, I have a special breadstick pan with ridges that keep the 'sticks in place, but it's not necessary. A standard baking sheet is just fine. You just need to leave enough room between them so they don't touch while baking.
These bake at a relatively low temperature for quite a long time, because you want them to dry all the way through. A completely cooked breadstick will be crispy and shattery. An undercooked one will be like those rawhide dog chews (or at least how I imagine them to be).
The only difficult part about making these is that there's a fine line between being completely cooked and being overbrowned. Once they start browning, don't walk away from them for too long.
Crispy Rye Breadsticks
- 1 cup lukewarm water
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 2 1/2 teaspoons instant yeast
- 2 teaspoons gluten
- 1 teaspoon cider vinegar
- 1 cup (4 1/2 ounces) rye flour
- 1 1/2 cups (6 3/4 ounces) bread flour
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- Caraway seeds (optional)
- Nigella seeds (optional)
Combine the sugar, water, yeast, gluten, and rye flour in the bowl of your stand mixer, and set it aside until it gets fluffy and bubbly, about 10 minutes.
Add the bread flour and salt, and knead with the dough hook until the dough comes together, cleans the sides of the bowl, and begins to become elastic. Add the olive oil and continue kneading until the dough is smooth and elastic and is no longer sticky.
Preheat your oven to 325°F.
Flour your work surface and knead the dough briefly. Unless your work area is huge, it will be easier to divide the dough in half.
Cool completely on a rack before you store them.