I was hosting the kids and Bill’s folks for dinner recently and wanted to make some fresh bread sticks. I hadn’t pulled out my bread maker machine for a while and each and every time we enjoy the soft breads, I question why I just don’t use it more often! This recipe was based on one I found on line, with a few small changes. It’s texture is a bit heavier than what I typically make, almost like a biscuit and is somewhat sweeter than my favorite “go to” one that is fluffier and more similar to a hot dog bun texture. None the less, these were delicious and fun in either the shape of a bread stick or knot.
3/4 Cup Water, warm
1 Tablespoon Butter, cut in small chunks
1 Tablespoon Sugar, heaping
1 teaspoon Salt
2 1/4 Cups Flour
1 1/8 teaspoon Yeast
Using a bread machine, add ingredients to your bread machine in the order listed above.
Set machine to the “dough” setting and run. After dough cycle is complete, place dough on a floured work surface and shape into a long rectangle. Make sure that you don’t press it too thin while leaving it about three quarters to an inch thick. Using a sharp knife, cut the dough into 10-14 short vertical strips.
Gently turn the strips, one at a time resting the strips onto the cut side, flatten it gently into the flour with your fingers.
Place dough sticks onto a cookie sheet and cover with a flour sack towel. Set your oven to the “bread proof” setting, or allow them to rise in a cool oven. (100 to 175 degrees for 10 to 20 minutes; depending on individual oven performance.) Continue reading for the knots!
I learned the hard way that yeast is a living thing. Like all life forms, it dies when it reaches an age at which it can no longer provide for itself from its environment; so check your package expiration date. Yeast is the magic ingredient of the baking world. It’s alive and master bakers have learned to cultivate it in their bread and pastry dough’s. Stored in the freezer, dry yeast will keep for months past that expiration date. Freezing puts it into a state of suspension. You should store it in an airtight container where it is protected from oxygen and humidity. My first batch didn’t rise well, but made an additional batch that turned out much better!
If you prefer, you can take the dough strips into knots. I made some of both!
To tie strips of dough into a knot, cut the dough into little balls. Roll each ball with your hands to flatten it out using your fingers and palms.
Stretch out the dough making strips with the ends slightly thinner than the middle. Gently hold the dough and lay the strips over your fingers. Wrap it around your fingers and and push the tail up tucking the ends underneath. Place them onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
Remember that the dough will rise, so leave some space between each knot. Once all the knots are tied, brush them (or the sticks) with a little olive oil. Loosely cover them with a flour sack towel or plastic wrap and let them rise again until doubled in size. (as instructed above.)
Toward the end of the rising period, preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Remove the towel and bake the sticks for eight to ten minutes until they are light golden brown.
The ones on the left were made with old yeast and the ones on the right were bigger and lighter with fresh yeast.
If making knots, uncover and top by brushing a couple of tablespoons of melted butter that has been mixed with a half of a teaspoon of granulated garlic, garlic powder, or fresh garlic pressed.
Bake the knots for 12 to 15 minutes, or until nicely browned on top. Either are best when served warm, but are also good at room temperature.