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Copycat Olive Garden Breadsticks


When it comes to yeast, there are two kinds you need to be most aware of as a home baker.  Instant and Active Dry.  Honestly, they can be basically interchanged in recipes, HOWEVER, if you work with Active Dry, you HAVE to dissolve it in some warm liquid first.  Instant, (also sometimes called rapid-rise or quick-rise yeast), can be mixed straight in with the other dry ingredients.  I like instant yeast the best, and find I get the most consistent results with it, but you do you.  Just know that my recipes are made and tested with instant yeast.  

I was always told to pick one kind of yeast and learn to cook with it because you will become familiar with how it works and I have definitely found that to be true.  I do like to bloom my instant yeast every time I use it, just to make sure it's going to work before I put all the effort in to the recipe, so the majority of my yeast recipes will have you add the yeast to warm liquid at the beginning and let it sit for a couple of minutes, just so I can make sure it gets a bit bubbly before I add everything else.

You can get instant yeast in big 2lb packages at Sam's or Costco for around $4-$5 which gives you ten times more than you get at the grocery store in that little jar for around $8!  I get mine from Sam's Club and it comes in two separate airtight 1lb packages which I love.  I empty one of the packages in to a mason jar and keep it in the refrigerator to use, then the other package stays sealed and goes in the freezer.  That is one of the biggest tips for storing yeast - keep unopened packages in the freezer, because it basically puts the yeasts life on pause so it lasts way past the expiration date!  When you are ready to use it, just pull it out and fill your mason jar and throw it in the refrigerator.

I love, love, love making homemade bread.  I didn't even ever attempt making bread before we moved to Utah, but once I started I found that there is something very therapeutic about making bread and then smelling it bake all through the house.  The more I cook with yeast, the more comfortable I get with it and I could honestly kick myself for waiting so long to try it.  

These breadsticks are our favorite thing to eat with Fettuccine Alfredo topped with crispy chicken, a meaty spaghetti bolognaise or a bowl of our favorite soup. They are simple to throw together, very forgiving, and make us feel like we are sitting in our favorite Italian restaurant!  They are soft and fluffy and absolutely delicious smothered in the garlic and oregano seasoned melted butter.  (Try dipping them in some cheese sauce or Alfredo sauce for an extra treat.)   This is my go-to breadstick recipe and will become a family favorite for you too!  Don't worry about shaping them perfectly.  The rustic shapes are what make them beautiful and fun!

Dough Ingredients:
1 cup very warm water
1 Tbsp instant yeast
1/4 cup sugar
3-1/4 to 3-1/2 cups AP flour
3 Tbsp softened butter
1 egg, lightly whisked
1 tsp salt

Before baking:  2 Tbsp melted butter

After baking topping, (mix together the following):
3 Tbsp melted butter
1/2 tsp salt
1/8 tsp garlic powder (can add up to 1/4 tsp)
1/8 tsp dried oregano

In your mixing bowl, add the warm water, stir in the yeast and sprinkle the sugar on top and let sit for 3 minutes.  Add 3-1/4 cups flour, softened butter, the egg, and salt and stir to lightly combine.  Using the dough hook, let the bread knead in your mixer for about 5 minutes.  (You can add up to another 1/4 cup of flour as needed, but it should look slightly sticky and not quite pull away from the bottom of the bowl.  Don't worry, it will rise beautifully!)  Pull the dough in to a ball with a spatula, spray the bowl lightly around and under the dough with nonstick cooking spray.  Cover with saran wrap and a clean towel and let it rise in a warm place for about an hour.  

Punch your dough down, then dump it on to a lightly floured surface.  Knead a couple of times, then divide the dough in to 16 equal size pieces.  Roll each piece in to an 7-8 inch breadstick.  Place the breadsticks on two baking sheets lined with silicone mats or parchment paper, (8 on each.)  Drape a towel over the top of each baking sheet and let the breadsticks rise another 1/2 hour until they puff up a bit.  

Before baking, brush each breadstick gently with melted butter, then bake at 400 for 11-12 minutes or until golden brown.  

When the breadsticks come out of the oven, immediately brush them with the topping and move to cooling racks.  Sprinkle with a little extra oregano if you like.  Serve warm.  

*Note:  You can reheat breadsticks if you wrap them in foil and heat in a 325 degree oven for about 5 minutes or until they are warmed through. 





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