Pink Peppercorn and Basil Bread Sticks


A lovely breadstick which is crunchy on the outside and soft in the middle. Lightly spiced from crushed pink peppercorns and fresh basil.

3 and 1/2 cups strong white bread flour
1 tbsp. sea salt flakes
1 tbsp. fast action yeast
1 and 1/2 cups + 2 and 1/2 tbsp. lukewarm water
2 tbsp. olive oil
1 to 1 and 1/2 tbsp. pink peppercorns
1/2 cup fresh basil leaves
Polenta (cornmeal) for dusting

Lightly oil a large bowl around all its edges and place to one side.
Lightly bash your peppercorns until they are broken into little pieces and tear your basil up making sure you bruise it so it releases all of its wonderful aromatic oils.

Put the flour into the bowl of a mixer fitted with a dough hook. Pour the salt down one side of the bowl and the yeast down the other side of the bowl. Add 3/4 of the water and begin mixing on a slow speed. As the dough starts to come together add the remaining water.
Mix for a further 5 to 8 minutes on a medium speed until the dough is still wet but stretches easily when pulled. Now add the olive oil and mix for another 2 minutes.

Add the broken peppercorns and basil leaves and mix until everything is well incorporated.

Put the dough into the oiled bowl you have set aside and leave until it has tripled in size in a warm area. This will take at least an hour maybe a little longer.

Once it has tripled in size line 3 baking sheets with parchment paper and place to one side and pre-heat your oven to 425 F

Heavily dust your work surface with a mix of flour and polenta (cornmeal) and carefully tip your dough on to your surface. It will be very loose and flowing but this is fine, rather than knocking it back handle it carefully to keep as much air in the dough as possible.
Dust the top of your dough with a little more of your flour and polenta (cornmeal) mix. Then stretch the dough out roughly to a rectangle shape.

Starting at the long edge cut the dough into at least 15 strips; you may get 14 or even 16.

Stretch each piece out until 8 to 10 inches long. Place the sticks on your lined baking sheets.

Bake the dough sticks for 10 to 15 minutes until they have a lovely golden hue to them and they can be picked up and tapped on the bottom and sound hollow.

Cool them down on a wire rack.

Like most homemade bread products they are best eaten on the day of baking but can be kept up to three days in an airtight tin they are best heated up in the oven for a few minutes if eaten after the day of baking.