Breadsticks equal big profits for pizzerias. They are cheap to produce with an almost endless supply of ingredients and are a perfect appetizer add-on to just about any menu item. Take it up a notch by stuffing them and really see them fly out the door. What can they be stuffed with? Just about every pizza topping you have in your kitchen!
I remember one of the best pizzeria television ads I’ve ever seen that stuck with me all these years. It was a Little Caesars ad back in the ’90s. I’ll set the scene: There’s a 5-year-old little boy wearing his X-ray vision glasses, attempting to see through things. Now enters the scene a voluptuous woman with a
bag of pepperoni stuffed breadsticks clutched to her bosom. We see the little boy stop in his tracks, looking toward her chest with his X-ray glasses, and of course, our imagination brings us to all the wrong places until he utters these words: “Wow, you got a lot of pepperoni in your bread.” They sold tons!
Let’s get started with the basic breadstick and progress from there. One of the easiest ways I made basic breadsticks in my pizzerias was to lightly flour a 12-ounce dough ball and pat it out, but not all the way as if I were making a pizza. I’d stretch it as close to a rectangle as I could. Using a pizza cutter, I cut the rectangle shaped dough into about 12 strips. I’d then place them on a pizza pan or screen leaving a little space between them, as they will rise slightly. They are ready to bake. If you have a conveyor, you want to start them in the middle of the oven. you want to make sure you have melted butter or liquid margarine (which most restaurants use), ready with a pastry brush so you can brush them as soon as they come out of the oven. They should only take a few minutes to bake.
Go ahead and brush them generously with the butter or margarine and then sprinkle them with a topping. Parmesan is a great start. adding some garlic and parsley really enhances them, creating a Parmesan garlic breadstick appetizer that’s hard to resist. Consider a powdered ranch sprinkle or even a cinnamon sugar sprinkle creating more of a dessert breadstick.
If you offer a variety of sprinklings for your breadsticks, you may want to have a separate container of the butter and separate brush for the cinnamon sugar breadsticks only because some how the garlic and Parmesan always seem to find their way into the butter blend. adding a cinnamon sugar sprinkle to a buttered bread- stick that has a little garlic in it would be a culinary clash that would be less than pleasant to any palate. I love garlic and cinnamon, but together? Not so good.
If you have mastered the basic bread-sticks, it’s time to go a little wild. There’s a couple of different ways to make stuffed breadsticks. The easiest way is to actually make a separate batch of dough adding different ingredients to the dough and then simply portioning the dough out into the same 12 ounce balls and preparing the breadsticks in the same manner that I have explained. years ago I was at a community event where there would be tasting of different restaurant food, with attendees voting for their favorite. I was so excited to win best bread against large chain Panera Bread. I called it Tuscan bread and these can perfectly be made into breadsticks.
Take a smaller batch of your pizza dough and mix into it some sun-dried tomatoes, fresh basil or a little pesto, some chopped garlic, chopped Kalamata olives and some Parmesan. (I think Feta would a perfect cheese alternative to the Parmesan.)
These are amazing by themselves, but would be great with a little olive oil blend with some roasted garlic cloves in it. Marinara would be another great sauce to dip these Tuscan breadsticks in. so you have the concept of mixing ingredients into your dough. Look at all of your pizza toppings and use them as your options for either mixing them into your dough or actually stuffing into the breadstick. some great options for either technique are:
- Sausage and peppers
- Sausage and pepperoni
- Pepperoni and black olive
- Spinach, pepperoni & black olive
- Vegetarian with mushrooms, peppers & onions
- Broccoli, ham & cheese
- Cordon Bleu with chicken, ham and swiss
- Steak & cheese breadsticks
When creating stuffed breadsticks, roll the dough out into a very long and nar- row strip about 6 inches wide as though it were a long and skinny calzone. evenly place your minimum amount of fillings in the middle of the dough. Fold the dough from the bottom to the top creating a long, skinny stuffed breadstick. With a pizza cutter or bench scraper, cut it into 6 to 8 sticks and bake them in your pizza oven for 3 to 4 minutes. Brush and sprinkle them in the same way and serve them with Marinara, Pesto, ranch dressing or buffalo dipping sauce.
The combinations can probably go on forever. That’s where you come in. Just be careful when actually mixing your fillings in with the dough. you want to chop or dice your fillings fairly small and don’t over mix the dough; otherwise, you won’t be able to identify the fillings. also don’t put too much soft meltable cheese as it will make a mess when baking. Parmesan and Feta are great choices for this technique.
Jeff Freehof owns The garlic Clove in Evans, Georgia. he is a frequent contributor to Pizza Today and a speaker at the Pizza expo family of trade shows.