Friday, May 17, 2013

Giant Garlic Bread Stick

     Today I'm posting the last recipe for last Sunday's Italian feast. It all started with what I thought was going to be a loaf of bread. I quickly changed my mind when I realized I was fundamentally making a pizza dough. I wound up messing around and making a honking big bread stick instead. It turned out really well and was wonderful for slopping up the red sauce from the ravioli and meatballs. So with no further delay, here it is.
Giant Garlic Breadstick
  • 3 cups flour, plus more for dusting
  • 1-1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 packets active dry yeast
  • 1/2 cup lukewarm water, plus more as needed (I'll explain later)
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil, plus more as needed (I'll explain later)
  • 1 tablespoon each, dried oregano, basil, parsley
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • Minced garlic, 3-6 cloves or 2 tablespoons jarred
  • 3 tablespoons butter, melted
  1. Put first seven items into a mixing bowl. Mix ingredients (If you have a Kitchenaid, you're golden. Chuck the first seven ingredients into the bowl, put on the dough hook, set to power level 2 and go. If not, you're going to be working the dough by hand.)
  2. This is basically an extension of the first step. Regardless of how you're working the dough, my method is woefully inexact. The dough will be very dry and crumbly to start. During the mixing, you're going to need to add in a little more oil and water. What we're looking for is a nice, elastic dough. It should pull everything off the sides and bottom of the bowl and work into a ball. Start by adding a teaspoon of oil. Then a scant 1/4 cup of water. Go back and forth between the oil and water until the dough hits that consistency we're looking for. If the dough gets sticky, sprinkle a little extra flour in there. The dough should NOT be sticky. You're going to work it for about 5 minutes.
    This is exactly what we're looking for here. Nothing stuck to the sides or bottom.
  3. Once the dough is the desired consistency take it out of the bowl and work it for a couple of more minutes. If it was in the mixer, take it out and work it by hand for a couple of more minutes. Put it back into the bowl and cover it with greased plastic wrap. Put the bowl in a warm place and let it rise for about an hour. If all goes well, the dough should double in size.
  4. Take out the dough and knock it down. Knead it for a couple more minutes. Then cut the dough into two equal pieces. Roll each piece out to about 12-15 inches. Lay them next to each other on a greased baking sheet. Try to twist them around each other into a quasi-braid sort of thing. (I'm completely cack-handed with this sort of thing and mine looked fairly horrifying at this stage. This is why the wife does the complicated braiding stuff when we bake).
    Like I said, not pretty.
  5. Take the minced garlic and throw it in the melted butter. Grab a brush and paint the top of the bread with a liberal dose of the garlic-butter mixture. Don't be shy. Hold a little of the mix back for later. Or go crazy and use it all right now. You can always make more later. Don't live in fear. 
  6. Throw the tray in a preheated oven at 375-400F. Give it 15-20 minutes. Keep an eye on it. Ovens vary and I am not a reliable source of information. Cooking times may vary. When it looks like it's about done (the outside should be getting golden and developing a nice crust), take it out and hit it with another round of garlic-butter mix. Go nuts. Put the bread back in the oven for another 3-5 minutes. Give it the old "tap on it and if it sounds hollow, it's done trick."
  7. Take it out and let it rest for a few minutes. Mostly to see if you can do it. We couldn't wait and wound up burning the crap out of the inside of our mouths. 
Good times!

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