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Good to go


At 10:54 or so on Wednesday night, I started thinking about crackers. The thought was so engrossing, the interest so strong, that it took no more than three seconds after the notion entered my mind for me to say to the friend with whom I was chatting "I would really like some crackers."

I am a riveting conversationalist.

There were no crackers in the pantry, so to satisfy my desire would mean productivity on my part. Good sense and laziness thankfully won the day, and I managed to leave the kitchen neat and tidy that night.

In a stunning display of restraint, I held off until the morning. And thus, at 7:15 a.m. on Thursday a bowl of dough, dusted in flour and proofing quietly, rising and puffing proudly, resided on our counter. By noon, there would be Garlic Herb Bread Twists.

Please don't look at me like a crazy person, I know full well that a stick of bread may not be a cracker, per se, but they met our requirements with ease. I wasn't aiming for a crackers-and-cheese cracker, not a shingle demoted to the role of vehicle for something else. I wanted salt, crunch, a snack on its own that required no further accessory.

These fit the bill.

All they take is pizza dough, bought or homemade, laminated with parmesan, rosemary and thyme, salt and pepper. Cut and twirled into curling lengths, they receive a brush of garlic oil before they're into the oven. A second anointing as they come out of the heat, in my version the oil is cut with honey, and then a toss through a mix of Parmesan and parsley. Thoroughly coated, utterly habit-forming, they're good to go.

I like the ones with some relative heft - their crust has a pleasing substance, and through the middle the crumb is spongy and dense for a satisfying chew. However, Sean prefers those stretched thin and allowed to crisp, so their crunch is not only at the edge but remains right on though. The one for him are the ones down below, gnarled and uneven, thoroughly golden and pleasurably snappy.

Eight hours is what it took from impulse to the making of these cracker-ish sticks, three hours from start to munching, and less than an afternoon for them to be gone. A pretty neat little timeline I'd say. In the name of efficiency, however, I think next time I won't bother waiting and set about making them right the very minute the craving strikes.

And strike it will, to be sure. Patience may be a virtue, but snacks are a necessity.


Garlic Herb Bread Sticks

From Gourmet Magazine, July 2009. Since I have made changes to the ingredients and method, I've rewritten the recipe for ease. To bring further depth to the garlic oil, the garlic is steeped in warm oil to rid it of any harsh bite. I've also added a pour of honey, to round out and soften the piquancy of the cheese and garlic.

1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
1 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano (2 ounces), divided
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 cup olive oil
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 lb pizza dough, (or use store-bought)
A generous teaspoon honey
1/4 cup finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
Salt and freshly-ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 400°F (200°C), with racks in the upper and lower thirds. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper, and set aside.

In a small bowl, stir together rosemary, thyme, 1/4 cup cheese, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper.

In a small saucepan, stir together the olive oil and garlic. Place the pan over medium heat, and warm gently until the garlic starts to become fragrant. Do not cook the garlic or let it sizzle. Remove from the heat, stir in 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper and set aside to cool.

Divide the dough in half, covering one portion with a tea towel (not terry cloth). On a lightly-floured work surface and with a floured pin, roll out second portion to a rough rectangle measuring 15- by 10-inches.

Sprinkle half the herb mixture over the lower (crosswise) half of the dough. Fold the dough towards you, bringing the two top corners to the bottom, sealing in the herbs. Roll gently to bring the envelope of dough to a 10- by 8-inch rectangle. Using a knife or pizza wheel, cut the dough lengthways into 9 strips, each less than 1-inch in width. Twist each strip, turning from both ends, and place on one of the prepared baking sheets, each strip about 1 inch apart. Brush the strips with garlic oil, using 1 tablespoon divided amongst the 9. Set aside.

Repeat process, rolling out the reserved dough, sprinkling with the remaining herbs and cheese mixture, rolling again, cutting and shaping. Arrange these strips on the other baking sheet, and brush them with 1 tablespoon of oil divided between them. Set aside for 5 minutes.

Bake the twists in the preheated oven, rotating pans and switching positions halfway through, until golden brown and crisp. This should take between 20-25 minutes.

While the breadsticks bake, stir the honey into the remaining garlic oil. Sprinkle the remaining 3/4 cup cheese on a shallow baking pan along with the parsley.

When the breadsticks are done and still hot, brush lightly with the oil and honey. Immediately roll them in the cheese and parsley, until well coated. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Makes 18.

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Reader Comments (40)

These can't be nothing but delicious...
I put these on my super long list of recipes to try...

July 5, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMika

These look lovely! I definitely have a craving now.

July 5, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterSharlene

Ooh they look delicious! Wonderful photography too.

yum! snacks are definitely a necessity!

July 5, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterAnna

Yum! A delicious non-breakfast variation on buttered least that's what I consider crackers...and the satisfying crunch and cheese and herbs? Even better. Thanks for posting! I'm off to try my hand at these with the pizza dough in my freezer!

Mmmmm, I want crackers now too.

July 5, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterkickpleat

um, yum. i want to make these to go alongside a big batch of gazpacho. thanks for sharing!

July 5, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterjen j-m

That looks great. I get those cravings too, the crunchy breadlike texture.

July 5, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJoy

If you try them, do report back, Mika!

Thanks so much, Sharlene and adele.

Anna, I'm happy you agree!

I like that thought, Katy, because really toast and butter is hard to beat.

Ha, kickpleat!

that's a brilliant pairing, jen. i'll be bugging you for your recipe.

So glad I'm not alone in it, Joy! I'm such a goner when it comes to bready snacks.

July 5, 2010 | Registered Commentertara o'brady

i love how you put a plan into action and only waste time to sleep! great story :)

When the craving for a crunchy snack strikes, my tunnel vision sets in as well. These bread sticks seem the perfect companions for soups and salads or just a cool, herby dip. Yum.

July 6, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJenious

Looks amazing! I have pizza dough in the freezer, and it's fate has now been decided. Can't wait to try these!

July 6, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterNicole

OMG, Tara!
Literally in the middle of writing a post about crackers!! WTF?!
But store-bought, not homemade.
I made crackers in the winter - Delish!

July 6, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJason

amen to snacks being a necessity! i much prefer your pretty, twisty, curly crackers to those silly flat ones. xo.

July 7, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterg.

Yum! We are epic pizza makers around here, so this will give us something new to try with our dough.

July 7, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterThe Leftoverist

i normally praise you for your writing every time i comment, and though again, it is always wonderful, I must say that these are your best pictures yet little lady!

July 7, 2010 | Unregistered Commentersara

The crackers look delicious, but what really hooked me was the awesome typo. I can see the following quote on splashed on some sort of torrid Harlequin cover:
There were no crackers in the panty, so to satisfy my desire would mean....

July 8, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterAnon

THese look fabulous. When I get the time I would love to try! Beautiful.


July 8, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterann

Your photos are beautiful and inspiring. So glad I found your blog.

July 9, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterApplesandOnions

Oh yum. Lovely as always, my dear! How do you store them, and do they keep long?

July 9, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterAndrea [bella eats]

i've made some a lot like this - and you're right, they are reminiscent of a cracker. i'm wish i had some now!

July 9, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterhannah

Yes, please.

July 10, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJulie

there is nothing better than a good bread stick!

July 11, 2010 | Unregistered Commentersusan

Well done for holding out so long. They look extremely impressive and don't sound too complicated to make. If I can prevent myself from using the pizza dough for pizza I will give these a try!

July 11, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterVal

Ooh! I wish I had these and a big bowl of soup right now...

July 13, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterThe Rowdy Chowgirl

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