Years ago I was a manager at one of those big-box retail joints that had a mini Pizza Hut inside. Occasionally I’d have to cover a break or shift over there and I learned how to make their
cracksticks breadsticks. I mean, have you tasted those things??
I searched online for a recipe that replicated their goodness but couldn’t find one that was quite the same. I took what I learned from multiple recipes and developed one that’s pretty darn close.
I went to great lengths to make this recipe user-friendly, in other words, for people like me who don’t have a $200 stand mixer with dough hook or pastry brush. My poor family had to sit through a week of breadsticks with every dinner while I was perfecting my methods. Thankfully, they’re good troopers and didn’t complain (actually, they wrestled over the last breadstick every night.)
My recipe calls for all purpose white flour (I use store brand unbleached) and Parmesan but I have made this with half whole-wheat flour and mozzarella and they turned out ok, not coma-inducing delicious, but still good.
Big Happy Breadsticks
(makes about 30 breadsticks, depending on how you cut them)
1 1/2 C warm water
1 1/2 Tbsp sugar
1 package yeast (roughly 2 1/2 tsp)
4 to 4 1/4 C flour
4 Tbsp butter, melted
cornmeal (optional, see directions)
grated Parmesan cheese (for the real PH experience use the cheap-o stuff in a shakey bottle)
Pour water into small bowl, add sugar and yeast, mix well and let sit for 5 minutes.
Measure 1 cup of flour into a large bowl, add salt. Add yeast-water mixture and mix well. *If you’re using any whole wheat flour use it in this step and let the wet flour sit for 5-10 minutes*
Slowly add remaining flour, mixing well with spoon, hand or mixer. *I use a spoon for the first two cups then switch to using my hands*
Knead the dough until it’s smooth and elastic, adding a dusting of flour as needed. Allow the dough to rest for 5-10 minutes.
Pour a little less than half of the butter into a large-ish jelly roll pan and smear it around with your hands or a napkin. *My pan is roughtly 18″ x 12″, if needed you can cut the dough in half and use two cookie sheets. I like to coat the pan with a small layer of cornmeal as well, it’s an extra measure against the breadsticks sticking to the pan
Roll the dough out to fit your pan(s), place the dough into the pan. Pour the remaining butter over the dough and use your hands to stretch the dough to the edges of the pan.
Season the dough with salt and garlic powder, use a healthy amount. Sprinkle parmesan cheese over dough.
Use a pizza cutter or knife to divide the dough into sticks. *I cut the dough in half lengthwise, then make 14 or 15 vertical slices (see photo below)
Let the dough rise in a warm area for about 10 minutes. *I preheat my oven to warm and stick them in there to expedite rising but this isn’t necessary.
Heat oven to 350 and cook breadsticks for about 15 minutes, check and add time if necessary.