Cheesy Garlic Breadstix

…cue angels singing from above. Because that’s what I heard when I took one bite into these cheesy garlic breadstix. I promise, you will too. I couldn’t wait to share these with you guys! I have so many new & old recipes/posts to share with you all, but this REALLY had to come first. Like. right. now.

Friday nights at the homestead are usually grilled pizza night, and last night I definitely wanted pizza. I wanted a big cheesy garlicky fresh tomato sauce pizza with a golden caramelized crispy crust on the outside, but warm & chewy on the inside. Only, I wanted it deconstructed. I’m dangerous like that.

After a long commute to and from work Monday through Friday, I’m usually ready to hit the yoga pants, couch and vodka when I arrive home. In no particular order. Especially, on Friday nights. Please don’t judge about the vodka part. I only live 12 miles from my office and it took me an HOUR and TEN minutes to get home the other night! You can understand that right?  You see, it’s snow bird season here in south Florida. Not exactly my favorite time of the year. If you are thinking about moving to south Florida, please don’t, we are full. I’m not kidding when I say that…at least about the full part. I’m kinda kidding about the not moving here part.

So you can see why on Friday night we like to kick back, enjoy a few cocktails, watch a few episodes of Cops, (ya know… cuz it makes us feel grateful about leading lives of everyday boring law abiding citizens) and grill up our favorite pizza and wing flavor combinations. I know what you are thinking right now, she lives in Florida.  She can grill whenever she wants.  Right and right.

But, I didn’t grill these breadstix. I baked them in the oven and all you need for an awesome crispy pizza crust is a fabulous baking stone. If you don’t have one, you really should invest in one. The holidays are just around the corner. You should hint around for one. It really is the gift that keeps on giving.

These cheesy breadstix remind me of my daughter and niece, who always like to call a popular pizza chain restaurant and order a plain cheese pizza with the sauce on the side. I guess the apple really doesn’t fall far from the tree. I’m sure they will be elated when they see they can make these at home now. In my daughter’s case,  making these at home on a college budget will allow her to save her money for more important things. Like beer.

Before we go any further, let’s get this out in the open. I’m not claiming this to be my “original” recipe. I mean really, it’s not rocket science or brain surgery. It’s a deconstructed pizza for crying out loud.  I found different versions of cheesy breadstix online.  They basically all call for the same ingredients. Some were slightly adapted from others.  I didn’t find any credible source to credit as the original, so I’m skipping that and going right to my version. Which again, is not the Holy Grail of cheesy breadstick recipes. It’s basic dough 101, tomato sauce and cheese people. Let’s just all get over ourselves.

The one ingredient which all the recipes called for, and definitely stood out, was nonfat dry milk.  Many times, I use milk in place of water in my recipes, because it is more flavorful and elevates the taste. So it kinda made sense to me that nonfat dry milk would work. I just so happened to have some organic nonfat dry milk in my pantry. It’s only been there for who know’s how long. Finally, a reason to use it.

Cheesy Garlic Breadstix
Recipe type: Snack
Serves: 4
It's a cheesy garlic tomato sauce pizza deconstructed, with caramelized crispy crust on the outside and warm and chewy on the inside.
  • 1.5 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 large clove fresh minced garlic
  • 2 Tablespoons chopped red onion
  • 17 ounces of tomato sauce ( I use Pomi tomato sauce in a carton it GMO and BPA free)
  • 4 oz tomato paste
  • 1 large ripe seeded diced tomato
  • ¾ Tablespoon dried or fresh oregano
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon pepper
  • ½ tsp onion salt
  • ½ tsp garlic salt
  • ½ Tablespoon organic dark brown sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon fresh grated parmesan cheese
  • DOUGH:
  • 1 pkg active dry yeast
  • 1 Tablespoon white sugar (I use organic sugar)
  • 1 cup very warm water (between 105 and 110 degrees F)
  • 3 cups bread flour
  • ½ cup nonfat dry milk (not instant milk) (I used Organic Valley)
  • ¾ tsp salt
  • 1 Tablespoon Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 4 Tablespoons melted butter (I use Kerrygold)
  • 1 clove minced garlic
  • 2 teaspoons brown sugar (plus more for dusting edges)
  • 8 ounces mozzarella cheese
  • Fresh grated parmesan cheese
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Place baking stone on center rack to preheat as well.
  3. First prepare your tomato sauce by heating EVOO on medium high in pot.
  4. Once hot, sauté onion and garlic for a couple of minutes.
  5. Pour in sauce, tomato paste, and chopped tomatoes.
  6. Add rest of ingredients and stir well. Reduce heat down to med low.
  7. Cook for about 30 minutes and stir occasionally
  8. Next prepare your dough.
  9. In small dish mix together white sugar and yeast packet.
  10. Pour in ¼ cup med hot water and lightly stir. Let rest 10 minutes to activate yeast.
  11. In standmixer or large bowel, add flour, nonfat dry milk, and salt. Stir with a fork.
  12. When yeast has been activated add to dry ingredients and add rest of ¾ cup warm water. Mix on low with hook attachment or with spoon until well incorporated.
  13. If dough is too wet or sticky slowly add flour a tablespoon at a time. If too dry, slowly add water.
  14. Continue to mix dough with on low until it's smooth and elastic. If mixing by hand. Remove from bowl and knead on lightly floured surface until smooth and elastic.
  15. Place EVOO in bottom of glass bowl and roll dough around and evenly coat.
  16. Cover with plastic wrap or towel and rise 15 minutes.
  17. When dough has risen, remove from bowl and lay on a lightly floured sheet of parchment paper, as the dough is going to get transferred to the hot baking stone. If using pan, no need for payment paper.
  18. Shape dough with hands on lightly floured surface into long rectangle or size of your baking stone or pan.
  19. Combine butter and garlic and melt. Add in brown sugar. Stir to dissolve.
  20. If using baking sheet, brush bottom of pan with butter. Place dough on baking sheet. Brush top of dough with butter until well coated.
  21. If using baking stone, Remove stone from the oven. Brush top of dough with melted butter mixture, then transfer to hot stone, butter side down. Brush top of dough with butter until well coated.
  22. Lightly dust the edges with some brown sugar, as this will give your crust a beautiful and tasty caramelized look.
  23. Add some grated parmesan to lightly cover top of dough.
  24. Add mozzarella and make sure all the edges are covered as well. This is what will give that golden caramelization.
  25. Hit top once more with a bit of fresh grated parmesan.
  26. Bake on center rack on 375 degrees about 20-25 minutes or until crust is golden brown and cheese is slightly brown and bubbly.
  27. Cut into strips and serve with tomato/marina sauce.

The outside of the crust was crispy and the inside moist and chewy. You could see the pockets of air.  Definitely what I want in a pizza dough. But I wasn’t necessarily convinced it was in part to the dry milk ingredient.  Another reason for the airiness is, the less you work a dough, the more air pockets will form. I never roll my pizza dough out anymore. I work and shape it with my hands.

I really wanted to know the affect the nonfat dry milk ingredient (which is different from instant milk by the way) had on the recipe. Turns out it has something to do with high heat processing. My internet search landed me in a forum where I found a posting explaining the use of milk products in dough. Here is Tom Lehmann’s…aka The Dough Doctor… explanation. (That name sounds serious.) The Dough Doctor has over 40 years experience making pizza dough, so I’m going to take his expertise seriously. The dude even has his own website dedicated to teaching the ins and outs of making pizza dough.

“In both bread and pizza dough/crust powdered milk (should be a high or super heat dry milk) has little affect upon the textural properties of the finished product. There is a legal definition for “milk bread” . It states that to be called milk bread, ALL of the liquid in the dough formula must be in the form of liquid milk, or the dough formulation must contain a minimum of 6.2% (based on the weight of the flour) of dry milk solids. I mention this because these breads are actually a bit more dense than regular breads. Ditto for pizza crusts. The only thing that will result in a lighter, fluffier finished pizza crust when milk is added to the dough formula is the reducing affect of the whey proteins (remember, this is why it is recommended thay only high or super heat dry milk be used, or that liquid milk be scalded before it is used in a dough. This reducing affect makes the dough a little softer in much the same way as PZ-44 or any other dough relaxer will (garlic powdeer or onion powder will have a similar affect) this softer, more relaxed dough may expand a little easier (more freely) during baking to result in a lighter textured crust. On the other side of the coin, you can achieve the same affect by simply increasing the water content of the dough slightly (2% of the flour weight) and save some money in the process. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that you should not use either whole or dry milk in your pizza dough, when used at sufficient levels it will help to increase the nutritional value of the crust slightly, but that’s about the extent of it. Flavor is a moot issue due to the other flavoring materials added to the pizza and the overpowering dairy note of the cheese topping. It is always a good idea to know what an ingredient does, and how it works, and that’s the story on milk in pizza dough.”Tom Lehmann/The Dough Doctor

Basically, the short of it is, the dry milk has no affect on flavor, adds some nutritional value used at sufficient levels, and if done correctly, could result in a lighter fluffier crust. I’m down with that! I may have just found my new favorite ingredient for pizza dough.

I was slightly afraid to put my cheese on so early and bake everything at once. I’m more of a put-the-cheese-on-a-few-minutes-before-it’s-done-baking kind of person, but everything came together so well as it baked.  I mean, that caramelization on the edges.  I used a smidgeon of brown sugar in my melted butter and a dusting around the edges to help further caramelize the cheese. It had barely a hint of sweetness, and counter balanced well with the salt of the cheeses and garlic butter. Just look at that golden crispy edge!

Let’s talk about the sauce for a sec. Sometimes, I just want a simple sauce, and in this case, less really is more. I love the smell of oregano. It brings me back to my childhood and eating DiCarlo’s pizza slices at the community pool. Still my favorite pizza to this day.  Adding the diced fresh tomato gives the sauce a marinara feel to it.  So damn delicious.

So the next time you go to pick up the phone to order your favorite pizza chain cheesy garlic breadstix, put it down and make these.

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