Monday, February 14, 2011

"faux-garden" Breadsticks

Along with the lasagna and red velvet cupcakes, for Valentine's I made breadsticks that are very similar to my favorite restaurant breadsticks from a shall-remain-unnamed chain Italian restaurant. As a child I remember being excited to eat there simply because it meant I automatically got to have the breadsticks. This home-made version makes a less-greasy breadstick, which I thought was an improvement. The last few times I ate at the restaurant I thought the breadsticks just had a little too much topping or whatever on them.

The recipe itself is really simple, using ingredients I had on hand already. I also have a focaccia recipe I really enjoy for Italian meals, but I have the feeling that these may take over the "go to recipe" spot. My one issue (which really was a non-issue, but the time saved would help on a week night or busy day) was my usual complaint that a hand mixer just doesn't do bread doughs very well. I mixed in the first couple cups of flour (I did them one at a time and put in the water alternately because I was using the hand mixer, I doubt this is necessary with a stand mixer) but ended up doing the last half by hand. Now I wasn't in a rush, and kneading dough is actually quite stress relieving, but this would be leagues simpler with a stand mixer, I am sure. Yes, there is one on the wedding registry. I think that may have been one of the first things we actually scanned with the gun. So now, onto the recipe!

1 package active dry yeast
1/4 cup warm water, 1 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons warm water
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
4 1/4 cups all purpose flour
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon salt

Topping ingredients:
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
pinch oregano

1. Place 1/4 cup warm water in bowl of mixer, sprinkle in yeast and set aside until foamy (5 minutes). Add flour, butter, sugar, salt and additional warm water; mix until slightly sticky dough forms, about 5 minutes.

2. On a lightly floured surface, knead dough by hand until smooth and soft, about 3 minutes. Roll into a 2 foot long log, cut into 16 1 1/2 inch long pieces. Knead each piece slightly and shape into a 7 inch long breadstick.

3. Arrange breadsticks 2 inches apart on parchment lined baking sheets. Cover with a clean cloth, let rise in a warm spot until almost doubled, about 45 minutes.

4. Preheat oven to 400° F. Make the topping: brush 1 1/2 tablespoons of the butter and sprinkle with 1/4 teaspoon salt. Bake until lightly golden, about 15 minutes.

5. Meanwhile, combine the remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt with the garlic powder and oregano. Brush warm breadsticks with the remaining 1 1/2 tablespoons melted butter and sprinkle with the flavored salt.

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