Fooding With Flo: Just Like Grandma Made (sort of)

I thought it was time to tackle things that didn’t bake in a tiny tins. It was time to deal with things that need to rise and recipes that use the term “knead” as in I “kneeaaddd you” or “head shoulders knead and toes” or, you know, massuesing bread on a floured surface. Cue the beauty shot of Flo.

Thankfully, when I left for college way back in the olden times (2003), my dad put together a cook book for me of all the recipes he usually made. In it was my Italian grandmother’s bread stick recipes. And since my bread pans are still in transit… bread sticks it it!

Throwing a bunch of stuff into a pan – including water – and heating it all up was new. I always felt like the stove top was never going to be touched during baking. But here we are! I was very skeptical from the get-go that I was going to be successful at this.

My dad always baked. He makes a mean dinner, but he really rocks it out with pies and bread and cookies. I used to sit at the kitchen table and watch him cook. He would talk me through every recipe like he was Julie Child – sometimes even with the voice. And sometimes I would help him, but mostly I would lick the wooden spoon or play with the extra dough. Why would I cook? We have him!

Waiting for the stove top mixture to cool was the most painfully slow experience. I stirred, I poked it with my finger, it was hot, I stirred, I poked it with my finger, I walked away, I came back and checked, still too hot. And now that I was dealing with yeast – the possibility of killing it by putting the little guys in a pot of too hot stuff was stressful. So I waited.

Cooker-lady loving the photographer loving the cooker-lady.

Finally! Bring on the yeast!! Still though, the voice in my head was yelling at me: Don’t kill them, don’t kill them, don’t kill them.

It bubbled into a gross light brown goop and floated at the top. In other words, it lives!!

Add the flour and I hear it turns into something nearly edible. I hear.

Here’s the deal, and here is where I kind of failed: When I took out the lump of dough, some of it was soft and dough-like, but then there was this whole section of feathery dough, dry dough that wouldn’t stick to anything. What I should have done (thanks to a call to my Dad) was add a tiny bit of warm water and then soften it up.

Instead, I tried to just mix the bits in. And even then there was a handful of feathery dough bits that wouldn’t stick to anything. So I just threw them away.

Before rising…

After rising, ta da!!And next up – the most anticipated part of any bread experience (besides the eating)…


On half of the batch I added sea salt and rosemary with the help of an egg white/water mixture. I don’t have a brush so I just used my hands to spread the slimy mix onto the breadsticks. Sigh.

The best part, hands down, about the new kitchen is the OVEN LIGHT!!!

It feeds my need to take photographs of baked goods and send them to my dad, and my need to watch slow changing things …. change. A la the slow cooker. Thankfully the oven is a bit faster.

So the weird feather dough? I could feel little pieces from my “mushing it into the main ball” technique. It made parts of the breadsticks not want to stick to other parts. I worried I’d be able to taste the hard bits, or they would bake funny.

I don’t have any cooling racks, so we just moved the tins to the chairs once they were cool enough so I could keep baking and using the warm oven. They are supposed to be crispy, not doughy like the Olive Garden, so they’ll come out of the oven with a hard outside, but a soft-ish inside while they are still warm.

Things I could have done better: Handled the feathery dough, made them even skinnier (as they are supposed to be more like pencils and less like magic markers… as Kamel put it), and that’s about it. They are a little softer than they should be because they are a little fatter than they should be.

But noms, they were really good. So, it’s another baking success! Next time I’ll do better, but so far I’m doing pretty good!

(Thank you Alyssa for your canning jars! I promise we’re going to send them back your way very soon! But in the mean time, cool huh?!)

16 thoughts on “Fooding With Flo: Just Like Grandma Made (sort of)”

  1. Yum! And if my new neighbor had delicious baking bread(stick) smells coming from their apartment I would befriend them stat. You’re already off on the right foot.

  2. You did great. I knew that you would sit in the kitchen and talk to me while I baked, but I didnโ€™t know that you were taking notes. It does my heart good. They look fabulous and I could smell the yeast from here. UMMMMMM. I’m so proud of my daughter who is baking, cooking and even reading my family recipes. You keep the family tradition alive. From my grandfather ( the baker) to my mother ( family cook) to me and now to you. Too cool DB

  3. Yes! The oven light! Why don’t I have one tooooo? I HATE baking without the oven light. But I love eating, so I do it anyway. So the other thing you should consider is publishing your grandma’s delicious breadstick recipe, because if it’s that yummy, I want to try it too!

  4. The major thought going on in my head throughout this incredibly cute post was OMIGOD THEIR WOOD FLOORS! Seriously, I would die a million deaths to feel THAT GOD-SEND IN THE FORM OF FLOORS instead of the stupid linoleum crap I have, blech! Jealous bug has bitten ๐Ÿ™‚

  5. hahahah every single time I add the yeast, I’m chanting in my head “please don’t die, please don’t die, please don’t die…!” hahah I’m glad I’m not the only one.

    those look delicious! ๐Ÿ™‚

  6. Hooray new kitchen! HUGE kitchen! Cue the jealousy.

    Also … the breadsticks look delicious! I haven’t braved the kneading just yet … maybe this’ll prompt me to!

  7. Oh I want one now, they look sooo delicious. I am afraid of making bread. Only did it once, in 5th grade for a school project, and it turned out well so I don’t know what I’m afraid off.
    And you guys make me smile, they should be more like pencils and less like magic markers. I have an obsession with magic markers.

  8. Mmmm….now I want to go make some breadsticks. Or bread. Except my bread always turns to shit. I guess I really just want to EAT some bread…

    And don’t you DARE send those back to me. You can, however, send me your new address so that we might re-attempt the Cupcake Fiasco of Summer 2011 again…

  9. You are doing great with your baking. I tried baking bread every summer I was in college and my yeast always died. I couldn’t figure out what I was doing wrong. Finally, finally last Christmas I made a loaf of braided bread. (I got ridiculously excited when the my yeast didn’t die.)
    Your breadsticks look delish and make me want to try my hand at it.

  10. I love that your dad gave you a whole cookbook of family recipes. Some of my favorite recipes are ones passed down from my grandma. When I make those recipes, I feel like I’m not only making yummy deliciousness, I’m carrying on some of my family’s history.

    Also, if you’re interested in a very not-scary introduction to bread get yourself a Betty Crocker cookbook. She’s never steered me wrong, and her recipes are totally not threatening. And yummy. Did I mention yummy?

  11. I got here from APW; sorry (for us) and glad (for you) that you’re moving on up!

    Just wanted to note a sneaky trick for rolling breadsticks or pretzels or whatever: Roll a pan’s-worth, one breadstick at a time, *and then start rolling again with the first one you stretched*! The tiny vacation while you’ve been working on the other bits of dough lets that first piece of dough rest. The gluten relaxes (ooh, science!), and they’ll go farther and smoother than they would when you started. If you want, you can cover the ones you’ve already done with a non-lint-y dishtowel or something so the surface doesn’t dry out (I do this with pretzels, since they have to be very, very long and I make them in giant batches), but that’s optional. So: just roll them as far as they’ll easily/conveniently go; let them take a break (by beginning at the start of the line again); roll them a bit farther; let them take a break; and repeat until they’re as skinny as you want. It’s more steps, yes, sort of, but (at least with pretzels) it takes less time in total than fighting with each lump of dough. And I was so, so, so happy when I realized that it didn’t have to be that hard. ๐Ÿ™‚

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