Eleven pipers piping, ten lords-a-leaping, nine ladies dancing, eight maids-a-milking, seven swans-a-swimming, six geese-a-laying
Five golden rings
Four calling birds, three French hens, two turtledoves, and a partridge in a pear tree
My original thought for pipers involved literal piping–a piping bag filled with frosting or batter or something to be determined. But then so many of these other recipes have already required piping bags that (a) I would prefer not to see another piping bag for several months and (b) it sort of feels like a cop-out at this point. So I switched from wordplay to image-play and landed on long, thin, pipe-like breadsticks. It was a wonderful and dangerous decision.
As Olive Garden demonstrates, it’s hard not to love breadsticks. Especially warm from the oven, their soft chewiness and garlicky saltiness gets me every time. These turned out just the way I like them, finely textured but not dense, buttery, and generously sprinkled with garlic. I threw some minced garlic in the dough for extra punch but worried that the raw garlic flavor would overpower the bread–it didn’t, and all you garlic fiends out there should follow my lead. Just make your date eat them too.
Science tidbit: we enrich this dough slightly with a couple tablespoons of butter added partway through kneading. Since fat coats the gluten strands and prevents them from connecting with each other and forming that strong gluten network, it contributes to a softer, more tender dough (think brioche versus baguette). Kneading the dough before adding the butter allows some gluten to develop for a chewy, sturdy dough, and the butter still adds richness and softness.
- 1 t. instant yeast
- 1¼-1½ c. warm water
- 1 c. all-purpose flour
- 2 c. bread flour
- 2 t. sugar
- 1 t. + 1 t. salt
- 1 T. butter, softened and cut into thin slices
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 T. butter, melted
- 1 t. granulated garlic
- Mix together the yeast, 1¼ c. water, flours, sugar, and 1 t. salt in a large bowl. Mix well with a wooden spoon until the dough comes together, adding more water 1 tablespoon at a time if needed. The dough should be soft but workable.
- Turn the dough out onto a well-floured surface and knead for 5 minutes, until it feels elastic. Knead in the softened butter and garlic until fully incorporated.
- Place dough into a greased bowl, turn to coat in oil, and cover with plastic. Let rise in a warm place until doubled, about an hour. Alternatively, place the dough in the fridge to rise all day or overnight.
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F and grease two baking sheets. Mix 1 teaspoon salt and the granulated garlic together in a small bowl.
- Form the dough into a thick log and cut into 16 equal pieces. Roll each piece into a rope about 8 inches long and place onto the prepared baking sheets. Cover and let rest 15 minutes (allow 45 minutes if the dough was refrigerated).
- Bake for 20 minutes, rotating pans halfway through baking, until the tops are light golden brown and the bottom sounds hollow when tapped. Brush immediately with melted butter and sprinkle with the garlic-salt mixture. Enjoy while warm.