Cheesy Bread Sticks
One of my most favorite things to order from Pizza Hut is the bread sticks. Although I’m never the one that suggests we order them…. I wait for someone else to and then I eat like half. That way I don’t feel as bad, you see, since it wasn’t my idea in the first place. I have a number of logic games that I use on myself in order to rationalize things. It’s quite handy.
As much as I love Pizza Hut’s bread sticks, I don’t like how they’re greasy and how you can feel the dead weight in your belly afterwards (or maybe that’s just me). I wanted to make something cheesy, garlicky and flavorful, but not as leaden and dense.
I started out with my usual pizza crust, brushed on some olive oil and sprinkled it with way more garlic powder than I’d intended (it came out really fast, and luckily wound up adding just the right amount of garlic flavor) and a some dried oregano. Then I sprinkled on some mozzarella and parmesan cheese, and popped it in the oven!
I baked the bread sticks on the pizza stone, which is one of the most useful things I have in the kitchen. It never fails to make pizza crust crispy, unless you try baking your pizza on parchment paper (check back in a couple days to hear about that one). Our first pizza stone broke last fall (like, it split-clean-in-half “broke”), so we’re on pizza stone #2 now and we’re still trying to figure out what happened to pizza stone #1. It’s a bit of mystery, really. Hopefully this one will last longer than 6 months.
I feel like I’ve had very good kitchen karma lately because nearly everything I’ve cooked since I got back from Africa (with the exception of the pond-scum colored cupcakes that tasted really good) has turned out perfectly. I just know I’m setting myself up for a major kitchen disaster, and whatever it is, hopefully it won’t involve fire. I can handle pretty much anything else.
That being said, the bread sticks wound up being everything I’d hoped: crispy, cheesy, flavorful and incredibly yummy. I had some marinara sauce left over from the baked ziti a couple days ago, and it was a perfect dipping sauce!
(Crust adapted from A16: Food + Wine)
The whole recipe below makes 4 crusts, which means you could make 4 batches of cheesy bread sticks (which would be awesome and I’d definitely be jealous) or you could make one batch of bread sticks and save the rest of the dough for later, or you could make pizza. My dough didn’t rise at all, really, in the fridge but once I popped it in the oven it did what it was supposed to!
1/4 tsp active dry yeast
1 1/2 c warm water
2 tsp extra virgin olive oil
2 tsp salt
4 c all-purpose flour
1/4 cup grated mozzarella cheese
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
1 tbsp garlic powder
1 tsp dried oregano
To make the dough, in a small bowl sprinkle the yeast over the warm water and let it proof for 10 minutes. Stir in the olive oil and salt.
Mix the flour and yeast mixture together, and then knead until the dough is very smooth and soft (from 10 to 15 minutes).
Lightly coat a large bowl with olive oil. Transfer the dough to a bowl, turn the dough so that both sides are lightly coated in oil, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.
The next day, punch down the dough with your fist, then fold over the sides and turn the dough over in the bowl. Recover and return to the fridge for at least 4 hours or up to 24 hours.
Remove the dough from the fridge and place it on a floured work surface. Divide the dough into 4 equal pieces. One at a time, cup the pieces in your hands and tuck under the sides until you have formed a smooth ball. Place the balls on the floured work surface, providing plenty of room between the balls and cover with a damp kitchen towel. Let the balls proof for 1 1/2 to 2 hours, or until doubled in volume.
To make your oven bread stick/pizza-ready, place a pizza stone on the lowest rack and preheat the oven to its maximum temperature for at least 30 minutes.
When you are ready to make your bread sticks, gently pull the dough to form a circle, stretching it to about 10 inches in diameter. Lightly brush the dough with olive oil and sprinkle evenly with garlic powder, oregano, mozzarella and parmesan. Gently slide the dough into the oven, onto the pizza stone and bake for 6-8 minutes, or until browned and bubbly. Serve with your dipping sauce of choice (I would suggest marinara).