Twisted Herb and Cheese Breadsticks
If you ever happen to visit Seattle, I really hope you’ll make a point of popping into Beecher’s Handmade Cheese. It’s right across from Pike Place Market and you’d be going there anyway, right? Right. Anyway, not only can you watch batches of cheese being made right before your eyes, but their menu boasts some seriously delicious offerings. One of my personal favorites is their Tomato-Cheddar Soup paired with a big Breadzel, an über good breadstick all twisted up like a pretzel with cheese and herbs hiding within. Lucky for me (and you) both of these recipes can be found in Kurt Beecher Dammeier’s excellent cookbook, Pure Flavor.
Here, I’ve made an adaptation using my own pizza dough recipe. Depending on how many breadsticks you need, you can either use a half-batch of pizza dough or the whole kit and kaboodle. I’ve also given instructions (and nutrition information) for two different sizes–giant and regular. Though, if you’ve got a crowd coming over or you’d like smaller appeteaser-sized sticks, make ’em whatever size suits your fancy. Just watch them as they bake and pull them out when they’re light golden brown in places.
Twisted Herb and Cheese Breadsticks
Makes 16 giant or 24 regular twisted breadsticks
1 recipe pizza dough
½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
6 garlic cloves, minced
4 teaspoons dried basil
1 tablespoon dried oregano
2 teaspoons dried thyme
1 teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
4 ounces Parmigiano Reggiano, finely grated
4 ounces mozzarella, grated
Divide your pizza dough into two equal portions. Using a lightly floured work surface or a Roul’pat, roll each portion into roughly a 10 x 7 inch rectangle (for 16 breadsticks) or roughly a 12 x 6 rectangle (for 24 breadsticks).
Combine the olive oil, herbs, salt, and peppers in a small bowl or liquid measuring cup and then spread over the surface of each dough rectangle. Then, sprinkle the cheeses on top. Press the cheese down lightly with your fingers to help it stick. Using a sharp knife or pizza cutter, cut each rectangle lengthwise into 8 or 12 equal strips.
Line two baking sheets with parchment or Silpats.
Working with one strip at a time, gently separate one strip and lift the top half, twisting it 2 or 3 revolutions before placing it back on your work surface. Then, pick up the lower half and twist it the opposite direction, which will ultimately create one long corkscrew of a breadstick. Gently lift the breadstick and transfer it to your waiting baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining breadsticks. Once they’re all twisted and arranged on your baking sheets (or waiting patiently on the work surface for their turn), cover loosely with plastic wrap and allow to rise in a warm place for 20-30 minutes.
Part-way through their rising, preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Bake the breadsticks for 12-15 minutes, or until lightly golden brown. I personally like mine to be soft, so I usually check them around 10 minutes to decide how many more minutes to give them. Once done, remove them from the oven and allow them to cool for about 5 minutes before serving.
If you’d like to have some of these lovely breadsticks ready and waiting in the freezer, simply par-bake as many as you’d like to freeze for about 8 minutes, allow them to cool completely, wrap them tightly in plastic wrap, store in a large freezer zip-lock bag, and then freeze for later enjoyment! To serve, bake them at 400 degrees for 4 to 6 minutes.
Nutrition information for one giant breadstick (1/16 of recipe): 260 calories, 14 g total fat, 3 g saturated fat, 25 g carbohydrate, 3 g fiber, 8.5 g protein
Nutrition information for one regular breadstick (1/24 of recipe: 175 calories, 9.5 g total fat, 2 g saturated fat, 17 g carbohydrate, 2 g fiber, 6 g protein