Cast Iron Breadsticks
I’m not entirely sure who was the genius behind serving breadsticks with pizza.
It’s like some mad marketing genius at Pizza Hut woke up one day and exclaimed, “I know! You know that super-bready pizza we shill to people? Let’s sell MORE bread on the side. In fact, it can probably be the same dough we make the pizzas out of, but we’ll just slice it into sticks and charge more for it!”
It was indeed a genius plan and it certainly worked. If you order a pizza now from any chain spot the very next question is, “Do you want breadsticks?” I would guess that 75% of people (including me sometimes) say, “Heck ya!”
Who doesn’t love more bread with their bread?!
When you think about it, almost any bread recipe can be turned into breadsticks. Just slice it up before baking it and BAM… breadsticks.
I kept this in mind when I was thinking about what dough I wanted to try out for these bad boys. Eventually, I landed on the same dough that I use for my deep dish pizzas. The trick to this dough is that it’s laminated which means that as you eat it you get these layers of butter and garlic baked into the breadstick.
I didn’t eat mine with pizza, but I would put them up against any restaurant version any day of the week!
Cast Iron Breadsticks
Yield: Makes 2 batches.
3 1/4 Cups (16.25 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 Cup cornmeal
2 Teaspoons kosher salt
1 Tablespoon sugar
2 1/4 Teaspoons instant yeast
1 1/4 Cups water (10 ounces), at room temperature
8 Tablespoons unsalted butter, (4 melted, 4 softened)
1 Teaspoon olive oil for bread while it rises
1 clove garlic, mashed
Cast Iron Skillet
1) Combine yeast, salt, sugar, water, and oil in a large mixing bowl for a stand mixer (or just a large bowl if you are making them by hand). Stir and let sit for a few minutes until yeast starts to foam.
2) Add in 4 tablespoons melted butter, flour, and cornmeal. With the dough hook attachment, mix dough for 5-6 minutes on medium speed. It should be a soft dough, but not sticky. If it is sticking to the bowl, add a bit more flour. If it is dry and crumbly, then add more water. If you are kneading by hand, stir together ingredients until they form a ball, then turn the ball out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until the dough is soft, about 10 minutes by hand.
3) Add dough ball to a oiled bowl and rotate to coat lightly in oil. Let rise until it doubles in size, about an hour.
4) Scoop out dough ball, punch it down, and roll it out into a large circle, 14-16 inches in diameter.
5) In a separate bowl, mash together softened butter and minced garlic clove.
6) Spread garlic butter mixture in a light layer all over the rolled out dough.
7) Roll dough tightly into a cylinder. Dive in two equal pieces. Fold each piece over itself into thirds (fold the right third over the center, then fold the left third on top). Form into a ball. This process will create lots of layers of butter and dough.
8) Wrap each of the two laminated dough balls in plastic and freeze if you aren't going to bake in the next day or two, otherwise store in the fridge for at least 2 hours.
9) When you're ready to bake, remove one dough ball from fridge and let it rest at room temperature for 30 minutes. Then roll it out into a 10 inch circle.
10) Place dough into a lightly buttered or oiled cast iron skillet.
11) Slice dough down the center and then into 1/2 inch sticks. Don't cut all the way through the dough. Just mark the sticks basically.
12) Brush dough with melted butter, sprinkle with grated parmesan cheese and cornmeal.
13) Bake sticks at 450 degrees for 20 minutes. Let cool slightly when they come out.
Serve as is or with melted butter or marinara sauce.
Adapted from a Cook's Illustrated recipe for deep dish pizza dough.
You can make this dough by hand or with a stand mixer. Either way you’ll need some basic bread ingredients to get the party started.
Any time I’m using dry yeast in a dough recipe, I always recommend mixing the yeast with the water, salt, and sugar and letting it sit for a few minutes. This will give the yeast some time to dissolve and also make sure that the yeast is still good.
If it starts foaming after a few minutes, you are in business. If it does nothing, then you need to buy some new yeast!
Once that step is done, go ahead and stir in four tablespoons of melted butter plus the flour and cornmeal.
That’s right. Cornmeal right into the dough. I love the texture this gives the dough.
If you’re using a mixer, just mix the dough with a dough hook on medium for about 6 minutes until you have a soft, but not sticky dough.
You can also stir together the dough ingredients and then knead the dough for about 10 minutes on a lightly floured surface.
Whether you are doing it by hand or with the mixer, if the dough is sticky at any point, mix in a bit more flour. If it looks really dry and flaky, stir in some extra water (by the tablespoon).
Eventually, you should end up with a really soft dough ball.
Put your dough in a lightly oiled bowl and let it rise until it doubles in size, about an hour.
Laminating doughs is a popular pastry method that involves folding dough over butter over and over again to form lots of layers.
Normally, it also involves me wanting to stab myself with dull butter knife.
Luckily, this is about as easy as laminating dough gets. Just mash some soft butter with a clove of garlic. This will obviously be very good folded into bread.
Once your dough has doubled in size, just punch it down and then roll it out into a large circle. Mine was about 16 inches across. It doesn’t have to be exact though.
Then spread out a thin layer of the garlic butter all over the dough.
Next, just roll it up like you would to make cinnamon rolls!
As the final step, divide this large roll into two pieces.
Then fold the dough over itself into thirds. This will make even more layers of dough.
If you are going to be baking the breadsticks in the next day or two, wrap these laminated dough balls in plastic wrap and store them in the fridge for at least two hours.
You can also freeze the dough balls and they will keep for months. Just pull them out a day or two before you want to bake them and stick them in the fridge to slowly thaw.
Baking the Sticks
You could bake these on a normal baking sheet I think, but I like the super-hot cast iron skillet.
I just lightly coated mine with some butter to make sure the dough wouldn’t stick. Assuming your cast iron skillet is well-seasoned you probably don’t even need to do this, but I did it anyway.
I wiped out most of this butter before baking it as you can see in the lower photos.
Take your dough ball out of the fridge 30 minutes before you want to bake it just to let it come to room temperature and relax a bit. Then roll it into a 10 inch round and set it in the cast iron skillet.
Place the dough right in the center of the skillet and slice it into sticks!
DON’T cut all the way through the breadsticks. You want them to stay together as they bake. You are kind of just marking them.
Brush the whole thing with some melted butter and dust it with some Parmesan cheese and cornmeal.
Bake this sucker at 450 degrees for 20 minutes.
The final product will be crunchy on the outside and soft and buttery on the inside.
They are really delicious breadsticks!
These aren’t the traditional soft breadsticks that you might be used to. They have some crunch to them that I really liked.
The little bit of garlic butter gives them just a hint of garlic flavor.
You could serve these guys with marinara sauce or melted butter. We went the marinara route and just had these with some pasta and salad for dinner.
Any breadstick fans out there? You have to give these a shot!