Let me be honest: I don’t like the entrees at the Olive Garden. I just like the salad and breadsticks. And the peach iced tea. But mostly the breadsticks. Did you know you can make those very same breadsticks in your very own home for pennies? You can! You should! I’ll show you how! Above you’ll see the ingredients you need. Imagine there is warm water in the measuring cup, and imagine there is some butter and also some garlic salt there, because I forgot those. That is what imaginations are for.
First put one tablespoon of yeast in the bowl of your mixer. If you haven’t got a mixer, you can do this by hand, but if you do have a mixer, you might as well use it. I used to be afraid of making yeast breads, but now I’m not – I practiced and realized it’s not that hard after all. I also found out that bulk yeast at Costco is an AMAZING deal – you can get two pounds of it for $3. If you don’t have a membership, ask a friend to get some for you and pay her back, then keep the yeast in a Ziploc bag in your freezer, and only take out enough at a time to put in the little jar you used to buy yeast in, before you knew what a great deal the Costco yeast is. Still keep the little jar in the refrigerator.
Next run the hot water in your sink until it’s pretty warm. Like as warm as a really nice hot bath, but not so hot that you’d blister in there. I used to sit around with a candy thermometer testing water temperature to add it to yeast, but then I realized that was really not necessary. Plus I broke my candy thermometer. And that is why I haven’t made yogurt lately. But anyway, get a cup (8 oz) of the really warm water and add it to the yeast. You can stir it a little if you want to, but don’t go nuts. The bubbles tell you the yeast is working its magic.
Next, add one teaspoon of sugar to the yeast water. That feeds the yeast. Then add one teaspoon of salt. I’m not sure why. Add two tablespoons of olive oil next. You can use any type of oil, but I think olive oil gives the best flavor in this instance. Finally, add in two and a half cups of all purpose flour. Fit the dough hook attachment onto your mixer. Or just mix it by hand if you have no mixer. But put a mixer on your Christmas list because mixers are very handy.
Turn the mixer on low and mix it all up. If the dough seems super sticky, and leaves a residue in the bottom of the bowl like you see above, add a little more flour (and by “little” I mean “a few spoons full” because you don’t want it too be too floury).
Now you have a nice ball of dough. Get out a baking sheet and put your silpat liner on it. If you don’t have a silpat liner, add that to your Christmas list because they are very handy, and this time just grease your cookie sheet or spray it with cooking spray or something so the breadsticks don’t stick to the pan.
At this point, if you press the dough into a greased pizza pan, you could make pizza. Just bake it for 7 minutes at 450, take it out, add sauce and cheese and toppings, and bake it for an additional 8 minutes. Voila. Pizza. But we’re not making pizza, we’re making breadsticks. Onward.
Separate the dough into eight balls. At this point you could make dinner rolls out of these little balls of dough, and they would be really good. But we’re not making dinner rolls, we’re making breadsticks. Onward.
Roll each ball into a breadstick. It’s just like playdough worms. They should really add this to those ridiculous posters claiming that all you need to know in life you learned in kindergarten. Kindergarten may not have prepared you for all of life’s complexities, but it did teach you to roll playdough worms and that is the operative skill to this part of the breadstick making.
Now turn your oven on to 450 degrees. It takes a while to heat up to that point, but it gives your breadsticks time to rise a little. Just leave them on the counter and do something else, like making the rest of your dinner or washing the mixing bowl or something. You could even polish your Kitchenaid mixer. Ha. I never do that. You know who has a really really really amazingly clean Kitchenaid though? Kim S. Seriously, every time I’m over at Josh and Kim’s house, I exclaim inwardly over the sparkling, dazzling perfection of Kim’s mixer. And she uses it too, it’s not just decorative! Someday, I will have it that together.
I don’t know if you can see it, but this is a picture of my oven telling me it’s heated to 450 degrees and ready to go. And yes, I do really keep my rolling pin up there, because it keeps it out of the hands of the kids. Imagine the damage two toddlers could wreak with a marble rolling pin.
In the time it took to preheat your oven, your breadsticks have now risen a bit. Maybe not a lot of a bit, but enough. Put them in the oven for about 12 minutes until they are golden, but not too browned because you don’t want them to get too hard.
Take the golden breadsticks out of the oven, and grab a stick of butter with the wrapper still on. Unwrap part of it and rub it over the tops of the breadsticks (that keeps your hands out of the butter, and makes it easier to apply). Then shake the garlic salt over the buttered breadsticks.
Put the breadsticks into your serving receptacle and you’re done! Breadsticks! Just as good (if not better) than Olive Garden, and they barely cost anything! The instructions in this post probably make it sound pretty time consuming, but really it isn’t. It’s fast and easy and you’ll get great results.
For more Frugal Friday tips, go see Crystal!