Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Easy Cheesy Garlic Butter Twisted Breadsticks

Tasty Tuesday
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For most of my adult life (which isn't terribly long), I've been afraid of yeast breads. Banana bread? No problem. Zucchini bread? Boo ya. Sandwich bread? Uuuuum... why would anybody make that?

When I was very young, my mom made incredible sourdough bread. She stopped making it around the time our dear family friends opened an "old world bakery" and started supplying us with all of the delicious fresh bread we could ever want. So I never learned the skill.

But then I got married. And my mother-in-law makes homemade bread all the time; often with home ground wheat. And my husband's eyes light up when she takes a loaf out of the oven. And... well... I just had to acquire the ability to produce that same light, by golly!

So I set out to make bread. And ouch, my fears were not unfounded! Horror of horrors, failure in the kitchen: something I wasn't really accustomed to, anymore. Brick, after brick, after fallen loaf, after flavorless hockey puck, after denser than a neutron star dead-weight anvil. (For the record, Wikipedia claims a neutron star is as dense as the entire human population compressed into the size of a sugar cube).

Though my husband would eat every boulder I set before him, and graciously nod and remark, "mm hm," while checking to see if his teeth were intact, I soon surmised that the look in his eye inspired from my baking was less the expectant light of approaching culinary comfort than the resigned anticipation of impending indigestion.

But I was determined. While giving myself a pep-talk before another 4 or 5 hour attempt, I came upon a simple recipe. Breadsticks.

"Maybe... oh maybe. The time investment is small, the ingredients are few... aw... what the heck?"

And I made them. And I made 4 mistakes in the recipe.

But it didn't matter.

They were light, and chewy, and flavorful, and airy, and little puffs of cloud that beautifully accompanied my chicken soup. They were incredible!

And then it happened.

"Where did these come from?"

"I made them."

"You made them?"

"Yes!" with an air of playfully haughty defiance.

"These are amazing!"

And thus began my love for homemade bread. Boosted by this breakthrough triumph, I gained the confidence I needed to conquer the loaf. Now, when my husband smells bread when he comes home, there's the joyful appreciative glint in his eye.



So if yeast makes you run in the opposite direction, please give this easy little recipe a try. In about an hour you'll enjoy hot homemade fresh breadsticks. And maybe your husband's eyes will light up, too. He's worth it.

Recipe note: I can vouch for the deliciousness of replacing 1/2 of the white flour with wheat, but I haven't tried more than that.

Easy Cheesy Garlic Butter Twisted Breadsticks

Credit: Image and adapted recipe from Favorite Family Recipes

1½ cups warm water
2 Tbsp. sugar
1 Tbsp. Active Dry yeast (not instant or bread machine yeast)

Sprinkle the sugar and yeast into the warm water and let that sit for 5 minutes. Then add:

3½ cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp Salt

For brushing/sprinkling:

Melted butter (a few Tbsps.)
Kosher Salt
Garlic powder (not garlic salt)
Parmesan cheese
Fresh or dried Parsley or other Italian herbs (optional)

1. Mix until smooth (if you have a mixer with a dough hook, it's even easier) then let raise for 10 minutes.

2. Roll out dough into a large square on a floured surface. Brush with melted butter, sprinkle with garlic powder, cheese and herbs (optional), and then sprinkle with kosher salt.

3. Fold in half and cut into 1 inch strips (with a sharp knife or pizza cutter).

4. Preheat oven to 400°F. 

5. Twist each 1 inch strip and place on a greased or parchment-lined cooking sheet. Let sit for 15 to 20 minutes to raise.

6. Bake at 400°F for 20 minutes or until golden brown. Immediately after baking, brush with more butter and sprinkle with garlic, kosher salt and grated parmesan cheese.

Serve with marinara, alfredo sauce, or ranch for dipping, or as a side with your favorite soup or pasta dish.

What have you made, lately?

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