Bread Sticks

and fifteen-bean soup—perfect for dipping!

© 2011 by KV5R — Rev. Feb. 2, 2011.

It was February 1, 2011—the first day of the Big Freeze. Sunday it was 77, now it’s 18. Seems like a good time to make fifteen-bean soup. I’ve always liked dipping homemade bread into soups and stews, but there’s always the problem of sliced breads falling apart after you dunk’em. What’s needed are skinny breads with a soft crumb, but a very firm crust—homemade bread sticks! That shouldn’t be too hard to do…

Okay—so these aren’t really bread sticks—more like baguettes or batons. I just made’em this shape for dipping into my soup. I started with the dough logs laid out on a baking sheet, then I figured they’d run together so I separated then by folding a piece of parchment into a couche, and that worked quite well.

Warning: this article may cause hunger.

Procedure

  • Start a bag of Hurst’s HamBeens® soaking, several hours before.
  • Make a 3-cup batch of dough (1/3rd WW) and rise it some.
  • Shape the dough with a rolling pin into a rectangle, about 9 by 13.
  • Cut it into 6 strips.
  • Form a 6-slot bread couche (or make one with with parchment) and lay it and dough sticks in a 9 by 13 cookie sheet.
  • Rise 2 hours, or ’til it looks about right.
  • Put a cake pan with 3 cups of water in the bottom of the oven and preheat to 375.
  • Bake 40 minutes at 375. Turn them over and bake another 10 minutes. We want the crust very firm but not cracklin-crisp.
  • Remove and cool.
  • Start beans cooking; cook 3 hours, then add 1 diced potato, 2 diced tomatoes, garlic, and several diced jalapenos and cook 1 more hour.
  • Serve in a big bowl with a broken bread stick. Yum!

The consistency of the crust is important. The breads should be breakable, but the crust should not shatter. Crusts that are shatter-hard tend to make a mess and cut the the palate. I was trying for a very firm crust, but not a very crispy one, so I overcooked the breads but steamed them throughout cooking. It worked! Perfectly!

Photos

Beans soaking in pot
Start them thare beans a-soakin’.

Cutting the dough
Cut the dough into 6 strips. Press straight down on the knife; don’t use a dragging cut.
Roll them just enough to take the corners off.

Dough strips in cookie sheet
I put the strips on a cookie sheet to rise…

Dough strips in 6-slot parchment couch
…then decided I’d better make a couch. I put marks on the parchment every 4 inches,
folded and creased it, then just stacked the dough strips onto it in the cookie sheet.

Oven thermometer showing 99 degrees
Let it rise in a slightly warm oven.

Bread sticks done
Baked 40 minutes, then turned them over and baked 10 minutes more.

Broken bread showing crust and crumb
Steamed crust is very firm but not too crispy; crumb is coarse and soft. Perfect for dipping!

Soup in pot
The soup took about another three hours after the bread was done.

Soup and bread sticks in large serving bowl
Ready to eat! That’s a high-energy, high-fiber, no fat, no cholesterol, delicious
vegetarian meal, with no animal products. Both tasty and healthy!

Notes

So there it is! My first homemade bread sticks. What did I learn?

  • Steam-cooking bread is a good way to get a firm crust without it getting too crispy.
  • You don’t need fancy-schmancy expensive baguette molds or a French flaxen canvas baker’s couch to make homemade baguettes or bread sticks. Just fold up some parchment and let’er rip.
  • Once you understand how bread mixing, fermenting, and baking works, it’s easy to try anything you like!

Lookie what I found out in my old shed! I had forgotten that I inherited that years ago. That’s a vintage ARC France 1.5L.

Old glass jar with wire bail-snap lid
Guess what I’m gonna use that old beauty for?!

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