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Crunchy Fresh-Herb Breadsticks

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Yields about 40 breadsticks.

This sturdy dough lasts for up to four days in the refrigerator, making it a snap to bake up a handful of breadsticks as a last-minute hors d’oeuvre. Amounts of flour are given by weight (oz. or lb.) and by volume (cups); use either measurement.

  • 1 tsp. active dry yeast
  • 1 cup plus 2 Tbs. warm water (85°F)
  • 1/4 tsp. granulated sugar
  • 1 lb. (3-1/2 cups) all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup olive oil; more for the finished breadsticks
  • 2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 2 Tbs. chopped fresh chives
  • 3 Tbs. chopped fresh thyme
  • 2 Tbs. chopped fresh rosemary
  • Kosher salt for the finished breadsticks

Make a sponge: In a medium bowl, mix the yeast, warm water, and sugar until dissolved. Whisk in 6 oz. (1-1/3 cups) of the flour until the mixture is uniform and free of lumps. Cover with plastic wrap and let it sit in a warm place until bubbly and light and almost doubled in volume, about 1 hour.

Make the dough: Whisk the olive oil, salt, chives, thyme and rosemary into the sponge until well blended. Pour the seasoned sponge into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook and set to medium speed. As the dough hook turns, gradually add 9 oz. (2 cups) of the flour. Continue to add flour until the dough is only slightly sticky, but no longer wet. When the dough begins to cling to the hook and pull away from the sides of the bowl, remove the dough from the bowl and knead by hand on a floured surface until smooth and elastic, 1 to 2 minutes.

Master Recipe for Breadsticks Recipe

Shape the dough into a ball and let it rise in an oiled bowl, covered with plastic wrap, until about doubled in bulk, about 3 hours. Once risen, punch down the dough and refrigerate it overnight or for up to four days.

Master Recipe for Breadsticks Recipe

Shape and bake the breadsticks: Let the dough sit at room temperature for about 1 hour before shaping it. Heat the oven to 375°F and line several baking sheets with parchment. Roll out the dough on a floured surface into a 12x20-inch rectangle, about 1/4 inch thick. Using a pizza cutter (or a long, sharp knife), cut the rectangle lengthwise into two sections (each about 6 inches wide). Then cut each section into narrow strips about 1/2 inch wide. Stretch and twist each strip to almost twice its original length and arrange the strips, 1/4 inch apart, on the baking sheets.

Master Recipe for Breadsticks Recipe
Master Recipe for Breadsticks Recipe

Bake the sticks until golden and crisp, 20 to 25 minutes. Check them periodically as they bake, as some sticks inevitably end up thinner than others and will bake faster. They’re done if they feel firm when pinched.

Sprinkle the sticks with olive oil (or sesame oil for the Moroccan flavored sticks) and kosher salt as soon as they come out of the oven. Let them cool completely before serving. They will stay fresh in an airtight container for up to 2 days.

Variations

Spicy Cheese Breadsticks: Reduce the salt to 1-1/2 tsp. and replace the chopped chives, thyme, and rosemary with 1 Tbs. sweet paprika, 1/2 tsp. ground cayenne, and 3/4 cup freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano.

Moroccan Spice Breadsticks: Replace the chopped chives, thyme, and rosemary with 1/4 cup cornmeal, 1 Tbs. sesame seeds (preferably black), 3/4 tsp. ground turmeric, 1 Tbs. freshly ground cumin seeds, 1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper, and 1 Tbs. toasted sesame oil. Sprinkle the freshly baked breadsticks with more sesame oil instead of olive oil.

nutrition information (per serving):
Size : per stick, no seasoning; Calories (kcal): 60; Fat (g): fat g 2.5; Fat Calories (kcal): 20; Saturated Fat (g): sat fat g 0.5; Protein (g): protein g 1; Monounsaturated Fat (g): 1.5; Carbohydrates (g): carbs g 9; Polyunsaturated Fat (g): 0.5; Sodium (mg): sodium mg 140; Cholesterol (mg): cholesterol mg 0; Fiber (g): fiber g 0;

Photo: Susan Kahn

I'd give this recipe 4.5 stars. The flavor of the two variations i've tried- herb and spicy cheese- is quite amazing. I prefer the herb and my husband the cheese. The dough is easy enough to make but shaping part is a bit of a nuisance, and the uneven thickness makes it impossible to cook until crispy without burning some of the tips or thin parts- a particular problem with the cheese sticks, which really do turn acrid when overcooked. I find the less cooked portions taste a little stale even when fresh-- and these really don't save very well. Still, the recipe is worth fiddling with for the unique and supertasty product, and I've returned to it often over the past 10 years. Lately, I've taken to baking some as round crackerbreads, and might prefer these thinner rounds to the sticks.

I agree with Roz. This is a pretty easy recipe. I made the dough a few days ahead of baking and even baked a couple of days before my event. They were great. The dough is easy to work with and the crunch and flavor are excellent. I used the parm cheese, paprika, and red pepper add-in, and it was great. Spicy but not overwhelmingly so.

I really like this recipe. The ooh and aah effect is well worth the fiddly-ness of cutting and shaping the dough into breadsticks. The sponge and dough come together easily, and the final taste (I used the fresh herb approach) is really good. I didn't brush with olive oil and salt when I took them from the oven, I felt the sticks didn't need it. The sticks went well with champagne, and what's not to like? I'm making these again in a few days for a birthday party.

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