Fresh, hot breadsticks just out of the oven, soft and glazed with garlic butter under a shower of grated parmesan, are an irresistable thrill to all of our senses.
There is nothing quite like it! The aroma, the flavor, the smiles on the faces of everyone when it’s placed onto the dinner table. If you haven’t made your own bread or worked with yeast before, this recipe is an excellent place to start.
Many of you are probably experts now at making bread, now that we’ve all lived through the sourdough craze of 2020, when we were all stuck at home and learning all sorts of new things. But to some, yeast is a nemesis. If this is you, now is the time to try again! These breadsticks may take some time (mostly hands-off), but they are simple to make and oh-so-delicious.
Working with Yeast
Yeast is alive, or in the case of active dry yeast like we use in these soft garlic butter breadsticks, it is sleeping. You need to wake it up by whisking it into warm water. The water should be around 110 degrees F, which is about the temperature of a baby’s bottle and not much warmer than normal body temperature. Any warmer and the heat will kill the yeast. If the water is lower than 100 degrees F, the yeast will remain dormant. Whisking a little honey in with the yeast gives it a little boost of food to help get it going. The honey here will also flavor the dough, making it ever so slightly sweet.
Once in its sweet water bath, the yeast needs to sit for about 5 minutes to re-activate. You may be able to see it blooming if you watch carefully. Over the course of that time, the water will become cloudier and will begin to smell like bread dough. If it doesn’t, start over with new yeast. Once it is active and fragrant, it’s time to mix it in with your flour.
Mixing and Rising
If you have a stand mixer, making your breadsticks will be so much easier. But you can also do all of this by hand. After all, that’s how grandmothers over the centuries did this work!
Combine your yeast, water, and honey with your flour, salt, and olive oil. Give it a good stir with the dough hook from your mixer to get it all started, then mix on low speed until the dough begins to come together. Once the flour is incorporated, turn the mixer to medium and let it knead the dough for 10 minutes.
You will know the dough is ready for its first rise if you can stretch a small portion of the dough gently, forming an almost sheer sheet before it tears. This is called the “windowpane” test and lets you know that the gluten network is strong enough to contain the gasses that will be released by the yeast, making the dough rise. This network is also what allows you to stretch and shape the dough later on.
If your dough doesn’t pass the windowpane test, knead it a bit more and try again. If it does pass, you’re ready for the first rise. Cover your bowl loosely with plastic wrap or a clean damp towel and place it in a warm spot in your kitchen to rise for about an hour. You’ll know it’s done when the dough doesn’t spring back when you press it gently with your finger.
Roll it out into a 9-10 inch circle, about 1/4- to 1/2-inch thick, on a pizza pan. Cut it per the recipe instructions, then cover and let it rise again for 30 minutes, or until the breadsticks look puffy and nearly doubled in size.
Finishing Your Soft Garlic Butter Breadsticks
You’re almost done! By now, the breadsticks are puffy. Before the end of the second rise, preheat your oven so it’s ready. Bake your breadsticks for 10 minutes or until they are starting to brown and no longer feel like wet dough when pressed.
While the bread is baking, melt some butter with garlic and grate some parmesan cheese. As soon as the breadsticks are done baking, take them out of the oven and brush the melted garlic butter all over the top and sides. Sprinkle immediately with the parmesan. Let cool for 10 minutes before serving. Really, waiting to eat them is the hardest part!
All the Best Tools
Having the right tools makes all the difference in the world. These are necessities, but do make things easier!
- Kitchen Scale – You probably know by now our commitment to a kitchen scale. It makes baking easier, your results more consistent, and makes clean-up easier!
- Sturdy Sheetpan – These won’t warp and can be used for so many different things. In addition to these breadsticks and pizza, you can also use your sheetpan to roast veggies or meat, bake cookies, make a big batch of your favorite brownies, or anything else you bake or roast in the oven!
- Small Whisk – perfect for whisking yeast and honey into the warm water, or for other small-batch things like salad dressing or hot cocoa.
- Silicone Pastry Brush – This silicone brush is perfect for brushing your garlic butter onto your breadsticks. It can also be used for glazes, basting, or egg washes on baked items.
- Pizza Wheel – This can be used to cut these breadsticks easily, and to cut so many other things! This one stays straight, is strong enough for the crustiest pizzas, and washes up easily.
- Stand Mixer – Kitchenaid is the gold standard and what we use. You will use this constantly, making it worth the considerable investment.
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Serving Your Breadsticks
These go with nearly everything, but we especially like them alongside a nice salad, soup, pasta, or pizza. Try it with these wonderful main dishes!
- Creamy Broccoli Soup
- Brussels Sprouts Salad
- Beef Vegetable Soup
- Amazing Fresh Peach and Avocado Salad with Hot Honey Vinaigrette
- Roasted Tomato Soup
Soft Garlic Butter Breadsticks
- 6 ounces (3/4 cup) lukewarm water (around 110 degrees F)
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 1 teaspoon active dry yeast
- 10 ounces (2 cups plus 2 tablespoons) bread flour
- 1½ teaspoon coarse kosher salt
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 large clove garlic peeled and smashed
- 1-2 tablespoons finely grated parmesan cheese
- Bloom Your Yeast: In a small dish, whisk together the water, honey, and yeast. Allow the mixture to sit for 5 minutes to bloom the yeast.
- Mix, Knead, and First Rise: Meanwhile, in the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk together the flour and salt. When the yeast is ready, mix in the oil and add the liquid to the flour. Using the dough hook, mix on medium speed for 10 minutes. Cover the bowl loosely with plastic wrap or a damp towel and set it in a warm place to rise until doubled in size, about 1 hour. When it is ready, the dough will not spring back when pressed gently with a finger.
- Shape and Rise Again: Once the dough has doubled, remove it from the bowl and roll it into a flat round about 1/4- to 1/2-inch thick. Place it on a pizza stone or pan and, using a pizza cutter, cut the circle in half. Turn the dough 90 degrees before cutting into 1-inch strips. Leave all the pieces in place and cover the dough again. Allow it to rise until puffy, about 30 minutes.
- Bake Your Breadsticks: At least 15 minutes before the end of your rising time, preheat your oven to 400 degrees F. When the breadsticks have risen, bake them in your preheated oven for 10 minutes, or until lightly golden. If pressed in the center, the breadsticks should have a bit of resistance, should no longer feel doughy, and will spring back immediately. (If you like, you can use a probe thermometer to check the internal temperature; the bread is done when the temperature is around 180 degrees F.)
- Make Your Garlic Butter: While the breadsticks are baking, place butter and garlic in a small bowl and microwave it for 60 seconds at 60% power. You can also do this in a small pan on the stovetop over low heat, stirring often so that it doesn’t burn. As soon as the butter is melted, remove from the heat and set aside to cool slightly.
- Finish Your Breadsticks: When your breadsticks are finished baking, remove them from the oven and immediately brush the tops and sides with the garlic butter. Sprinkle them with the grated parmesan. Allow to cool slightly before serving.
- Leftover garlic butter can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to a month.
- Store baked and cooled breadsticks in an airtight container at room temperature for 3 days or freeze for up to 3 months. If they are frozen, you can reheat them in a low oven (250 degrees F.) until they crisp up and are warmed through.
- Make this vegan by substituting vegan butter and cheese for the dairy butter and parmesan. If you avoid honey as well, substitute maple syrup or granulated sugar for the honey in the recipe.
- Using higher protein bread flour does make a difference, so it’s worth seeking some out. But if you don’t have it, you can use All Purpose Flour instead, though you may need a slightly longer kneading time.