Post #836 Stix-O-Bread

January 12, 2022 at 3:54 PM | Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

I had a friend a long time ago who worked at McDonald’s for a short time, like about two months before he left the job. I never knew if he quit or got fired, but one day he wasn’t there anymore, and went into construction with my brother. But working the fast food place gave him a quirk that drove everyone crazy. He fell in love with one menu item; found irrepressibly funny and laughed every time he said it, which was often. Then he segued into modifying it for use with every other thing on the planet.

I wanted to kill him.

So did everyone else.

He stared calling everything “O’ <insert word here>” after their Filet O’ Fish sandwich. I don’t know why he found it so funny. Something triggered the memory in my brain the other day, and I started calling some garlic bread sticks I was making Stix O’ Bread. Sort of a long-winded intro to what the post is about.

It’s no surprise that we love bread in our house. We make all kinds. When we make bacon and eggs, we’ll throw flour, shortening, salt, and water together and make biscuits. When we make a roast of beef, we’ll sometimes make Yorkshire pudding which is flour, milk, and egg aerated together and baked at a high temp so they puff up. We like quick breads, and soda breads, and sweet bread, and english muffins, and all kinds of breads.

A few days ago, we were in the middle of an Artic blast and the outside temp was 1 degree. The wind chill factor brought it down to -10. Perfect weather for something long and slow cooked. I opted for home made spaghetti sauce. Partner/Spouse was agreeable and made a special request for garlic bread. I have a recipe gleaned from the ‘net that I tried once before with “okay” results, but I didn’t follow it precisely. So this time, I went by the letter. Except one thing, which I’ll talk about later.

Here’s the recipe:

  1. 1 package of dry yeast (2 to 2 1/4 tsps if you’re using yeast from a bottle)
  2. 4 1/4 cups AP flour (I used bread flour since I have so much), plus more for dusting
  3. 1/4 cup warm water
  4. 1 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons warm water
  5. 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened (not melted)
  6. 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  7. 1 tablespoon table salt
  8. For the topping:
  9. 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  10. 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  11. 1/8 to 1/4 garlic powder
  12. pinch dried oregano

To make the dough, put 1/4 cup water in a large bowl and add yeast and 1 tsp of the sugar. Let the mix sit for 5-10 minutes until it’s foamy. Add all the other ingredients except the topping ingredients. Mix well until the dough is just slightly sticky. Remove from bowl onto a floured surface and knead until smooth and cohesive and no longer sticky, about 8-12 minutes. Alternatively, knead in the bowl of stand mixer for 8 minutes at high speeds, pushing the dough down as needed. The dough will be very soft.

Roll the dough into a log about two feet long. Cut into 16 pieces, each about an inch and a half long. Using your hands, roll each piece into a 7 inch long bread stick shape. Arrange on two baking sheets about two inches apart. Loosely cover with plastic wrap and allow to raise in a warm place, about 45-60 minutes.

While the dough is rising, mix the topping ingredients together and set aside. About ten minutes before the rising is finished, preheat the oven to 400 degrees. When the rising is done, brush the bread sticks with the topping gently to keep the bread sticks from deflating. Bake until golden brown, about 15-20 minutes. Brush the bread sticks with any remaining butter topping. Allow to cool, then eat while warm. Once completely cooled, store in a plastic bag.

So, here’s what I did, cuz you know I never leave well enough alone. I followed the basic recipe except there was no way we needed 16 bread sticks. So I cut the dough in half and made 4 bread sticks and 10 dinner rolls. I portioned everything by weight to try to get them approximately the same size.

SIDE NOTE: A kitchen scale is a valuable tool and pretty cheap. If you’re going to get one, I suggest you get one with “regular” batteries rather than button cells. The first two I had were button cells, and while they lasted longer, once they were dead, replacing them was problematic enough that I just bought another scale. The last one we got uses AA batteries, and we’ve had that for years now.

To form the rolls, I weighed out ten portions, then rolled them into balls. I placed them in a round cake pan with seven on the outer circle and three in the center. Once they were risen and baked, they were perfect.

To form the bread sticks, I weighed out 4 of the same weight each and rolled them into ropes. The thing I like about forming rolls and loaves and bread sticks, etc. by hand is that they always come out different from each other. These slight imperfections prove they were made by hand, and as far as I’m concerned, they taste better.

Since I didn’t want the dinner rolls to have any garlic flavor, but I wanted the bread sticks to have a heavy garlic flavor. So I melted the butter and spread it over the rolls, then added the garlic to the leftover butter and doubled the amount of garlic powder. When garlic powder is added to liquid, it forms a paste. Since there was a lot of butter, the paste was thinner and I used the pastry brush to dab the garlic spread onto the bread sticks.

I baked the lot of them for the full twenty minutes so they’re browner than they might ordinarily be, but since I’d never made them this way before, I wanted to be certain they were bake completely through. Nothing is worse than underbaked bread.

I think they turned out perfectly. I used salted butter, and the full amount of salt by measure for the recipe (rather than a rough guesstimate poured into my palm), and the rolls tasted a little saltier than I would have expected. It wasn’t off putting, and when I’ve put jam or preserves on the rolls, I haven’t noticed the salty flavor. I’m probably going to cut the amount of salt back by half when I make them again to see how that goes. I did that the first time I made them, and they seemed bland, but I didn’t put the butter bath on them when I made them before either, so there’s that.

As you can see from the recipe, these are quick to make since they don’t use the double rise method. The softer dough also gives it extra lift since the yeast isn’t working against a stiff dough. They can be made plain, or any flavoring sweet or savory can be added very easily. And they can be shaped any way you prefer.

So, spaghetti and home made bread were what’s for dinner that night, and it was so warm and filling. The perfect defense to the cold outside.

So, how are you all handling the weather this year? Got any special methods for dealing with it? Share and let us know!

And as always,

2 Comments »

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  1. This recipe is very similar to the one I use for buns and bread sticks.
    https://www.kingarthurbaking.com/recipes/beautiful-burger-buns-recipe
    It was a cold week here last week and will be dipping down again this weekend. It’s the time of year for good bread, pasta dishes, soups and stews.

    • It’s funny how recipes evolve. I’ve always wondered who thought to put eggs, sugar, and milk into flat bread to make a cake. I’ve been a fan of KAB for decades and never noticed the similarities between recipes they use and recipes I use. I have another recipe for sandwich buns that I got from a bread machine recipe book that’s similar to this one, too. Wonder who started it? We’re looking forward to getting out for a drive on Saturday. Supposed to be 7 degrees, but yesterday was 45 and today will be about the same so any lingering snow on the roads will be gone. We’ve decided this new apartment just isn’t big enough for us. We can’t even unpack our books because there’s no place to put them. (Of course, that doesn’t stop us from getting more books, right?) So we’re looking at a couple of places nearby to possibly rent. One is four bedrooms, the other is three. One of the spares will be turned into a book room, I have a feeling. Anyway, enjoy your weekend. I’m planning a cake for later today!


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