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Bread sticks are perfect as an hors d'oeuvre either with or without a dip, to accompany soups, or in place of dinner rolls. They are also great just to nibble whenever the urge strikes you!
2 1/2 cups boiling water
3/4 cup millet seed
2 packages (2 scant tablespoons) active dry yeast*
2 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons salt
6 to 6 1/2 cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
additional olive oil to brush bread stick tops (optional)
*This amount of yeast will make this dough rise very rapidly. If you want to slow things down, 1 package or tablespoon of yeast will increase the rising time by about 50%.
Pour the boiling water over the millet in a large heat-proof bowl and allow it to sit until the mixture has cooled to 110°F (or cooler). Sprinkle the yeast over the top of the cooled millet to soften. Add the honey, olive oil, salt and 2 cups of flour and beat vigorously for 2 minutes.
Add a further 4 cups of flour, a cup at a time, until you have a soft but kneadable dough. Turn out onto a board where you've sprinkled the remaining flour. Knead in only enough more flour to keep the dough from sticking to you or the board. When you are trying to knead a slack dough, it is often helpful to use a floured bowl or bench scraper initially, along with your hands, until the dough begins to hold together and behave itself. Knead until it's bouncy and smooth (in between the millet seeds). Then place the dough in an oiled bowl, turning once to oil the top, cover with a damp towel and let it rise until doubled, about 1 hour (or 1 1/2 hours with the lesser amount of yeast.)
Punch the dough down and divide into 32 pieces. Roll each piece into an 18- to 24-inch rope. The length depends on how "thick and chewy" or "thin and crisp" you want your final bread sticks to be. You can also cut the ropes in halves or thirds for a variety of lengths.**
Place bread sticks 1 inch apart on a lightly greased or parchment-covered baking sheet. Cover with a damp towel and let rise for 30 minutes.
About 15 minutes before you want to bake the bread sticks, preheat your oven to 400°F.
To make them more crisp, brush the tops lightly with olive oil just before they go in. Bake the thicker variety for about 20 minutes, or until golden brown. The thinner ones should take about 15 minutes.
Immediately remove from the baking sheet and cool on a rack.
**This dough makes wonderful baguettes and pizza dough as well.
This recipe reprinted from The Baking Sheet Newsletter, Vol. III, No. 4, March-April 1992 issue.