I was taught to make homemade bread in my early teens. It usually takes more than one lesson to learn it. Someone just doesn’t hand you the recipe and say, “Go to it!” At least that’s not how it happened for me. It was a combination of my mother, my older sisters and a lot of trial and error. I’m pretty sure we could have used some of those early loaves of bread to brick the new addition to the house we were building.
The oldest two sisters were close to getting married and starting a home of their own so they took time to make it right knowing they would soon be making it for their own little families. The next two sisters were more interested in rushing through their chores so they could go hang out with friends. They barely waited for the yeast to rise and would hand it off to me when it came time to knead it. This was before the time of the lovely little machines that do all the kneading for you. More often than not I would end up with too much flour and we always made whole wheat bread. Hence, the bricks.
After all these years, I’ve had lots of practice and feel confident with most any bread recipe that I put my hand (or machine) to. I mean, I love the good old recipe we used in my mother’s house and the one I use today is much the same with a few adaptations of my own. I have tweaked the old recipe to make indian fry-bread, scones, cinnamon rolls, dinner rolls, pizza dough and even breadsticks.
However, here’s where the story changes. Some years ago I came across a breadstick recipe to trump all others, that is simple to make. It is almost fool-proof.
I give all credit to my good friend Jennie N. for bringing these scrumptious breadsticks to one of those polygamous pot-lucks, and into my world…from the days back on the ranch.
1 cup warm water
1 Tbsp yeast
1 Tbsp sugar
1 tsp salt
2 Tbsp vegetable oil
2 1/2-3 cups flour (I use 1/2 whole wheat 1/2 white)
1 cube softened butter
1/2 cup parmesan cheese
1-2 tsp garlic powder
1 Tbsp Basil OR Parsley OR Italian Seasoning (take your pick)
Put warm water, yeast, sugar and salt into mixing bowl. Stir and let stand for five minutes. Add oil. Gradually add flour, adding extra if dough is too sticky to handle. Knead dough for five minutes. Let rise until double. In the meantime…
Combine all ingredients for topping until it is a creamy spreadable texture.
Now, when the dough has risen sprinkle your surface with flour. Roll out dough to about a 1/2 inch thick rectangle. Gently spread half of the topping only on the bottom half, the length of the rectangle. Next, take the whole top portion and fold it right on over what you just spread. Now take the remaining topping and spread it over the whole top that you just folded over. Think of it as like a greeting card: the good stuff is in the middle of the folded card and on the top or front of the card. The back or bottom is plain. (Does that help?)
Next step, grease a baking sheet with butter or oil. For this next part you might have to get creative. You slice the folded dough rectangle into one inch strips. I like to use a pizza slicer. You can use a knife but sometimes it’s not as smooth a cut. Now take each strip with both hands, one on each end and twist one hand toward you and the other hand against you and quickly lay twisted strips onto greased baking sheet one inch apart.
Let rise until double. Bake @ 375 for 15-20 minutes.
You can also make these using pesto as the topping, although I never have because this way works so wonderfully and there are so rarely any leftovers.