My mother-in-law and I have been taking turns with sending care packages to Kyle. We alternate in order to spread out the goodies for him, and to give ourselves a little bit of a break between each package. According to Kyle, we are the only ones who send care packages with homemade baked goods; everyone else just receives packages with store-bought items. Of course, some people don’t like baking, and Kyle and I might be the only couple that doesn’t have kids, so I probably have more time to spare on making things from scratch than other people do. And I don’t doubt that everyone in Kyle’s squadron is very happy to receive their packages from home. But they all come running whenever a package from my mother-in-law or me shows up to sample all the baked goods. If you have a loved one who is deployed and are sending a care package, try to include a baked treat if you can spare the time! You don’t have to get elaborate with it. Even something as simple as homemade cookies or brownies is a huge morale booster and brings a little piece of home to wherever your loved one may be.
I decided to do something savory for Kyle’s latest care package. Everything else I had baked was sweet. So I found a recipe for cheesy garlic breadsticks in Thomas Keller’s Bouchon Bakery cookbook (their official name is Garlic Comtè breadsticks, but I couldn’t find comtè cheese). I’m sure you have a few questions right now, namely: 1) Another Thomas Keller recipe? 2) Might I be a little obsessed? 3) Can I put some more variety on this blog? In order, yes, absolutely yes, and I promise I will (if for no other reason than I’m sure I would get sued if I reprinted Thomas Keller’s entire cookbook for free). But these looked too good to pass up! In the cookbook, the notes say that they were created in an attempt to make something better than Cheez-its. Well, I would say these are pretty darn good if you like salty and cheesy and garlicky flavors!
To package them, I waited until they had cooled completely, and then put about 18 into a gallon-size Ziploc bag. I got as much air out of the bag as I could and wrapped the bag tightly around the breadsticks. Then I put all of that into an empty Pringles can. I find Pringles cans to be really useful for mailing (they work great for cookies, too) because the contents usually arrive in tact and they fit well inside a large flat-rate box.
Kyle’s ratings on these?
Survival of the mailing process: 10/10 (they were in the mail for 8 days)
Garlic Infused Oil
4 tablespoons olive oil
3 cloves of garlic
1. Cut off and discard the root ends of the garlic cloves. Place the cloves into a small saucepan with the olive oil.
2. Cook the oil and garlic gently over medium-low heat for about 40 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes or so, until the cloves are completely tender. Remove the saucepan from the heat and allow to cool.
3. You will need 2 tablespoons of the oil for the breadsticks; you can use the rest for whatever you like.
Cheesy Garlic Breadsticks
Adapted from: Thomas Keller’s Bouchon Bakery
Yield: about 36 breadsticks
2 tablespoons garlic infused oil
136 grams grated Gruyere cheese [Note: I used Gruyere because I couldn’t find Comtè cheese and Gruyere is Kyle’s favorite]
234 grams all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 1/4 teaspoons instant yeast
117 g water at 75 degrees F
Spray a large bowl with nonstick spray and set aside.
Heat the garlic oil in the top of a double boiler over barely simmering water. [Note: if, like me, you don’t have a double boiler, place a heatproof bowl over the top of a saucepan with water in it. Just make sure the bowl is not touching the water.] Add the cheese and stir as it melts. The mixture will not emulsify; the cheese will be separated from the oil. Remove from the heat but leave over the hot water to keep warm.
Combine the flour, salt, and yeast in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and mix quickly on the lowest setting to evenly distribute the yeast. With the mixer running, add the water. With the mixer still running on the lowest speed, add the warm oil and cheese. The cheese should still be hot when it is added or else it will not evenly incorporate into the dough. Continue to mix until the oil and cheese have been incorporated; if necessary, increase the speed to low for 15 seconds.
Stop the mixer and switch to the dough hook. Mix on low for 30 minutes. Using a bowl scraper, release the dough and turn it onto a lightly floured board. Pat, stretch, and fold the dough, then place into the prepared bowl. Cover and let stand for 15 minutes.
Line a sheet pan with parchment paper. Using as little flour as possible, roll the dough out to a 5-by-4-by-1 inch thick rectangle. Transfer to the sheet pan, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate 3 to 4 hours (or overnight), or until cold enough to roll.
Roll out the dough on a lightly floured board to a 15-by-9-by-1/4 inch rectangle. Set on the lined sheet pan, top with another piece of parchment paper, and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 1 hour or freeze for 20 minutes, or until firm enough to trim.
Trim the dough to a 14-by-7 3/4-inch rectangle; the trimmings can be baked for a chef’s snack. [Note: How can you NOT love a recipe that includes chef’s snacks?!] Refrigerate for 1 hour or freeze for 20 minutes, or until cold enough to cut.
Put a baking stone (or pizza stone) into the oven and preheat to 325 degrees F. Line two sheet pans with Silpats or parchment paper. Using a pizza wheel or a chef’s knife, cut the dough into 3/8-inch wide strips. It is important that the strips be uniform in size, or they will bake unevenly. Carefully lift up the sticks and arrange on the sheet pans, leaving about 1/4 inch between them. Use the side of a chef’s knife or a ruler to make sure the sides are straight. At this point the sheet pans can be wrapped in a few layers of plastic wrap and frozen for up to two weeks.
Cover the dough lightly with plastic wrap and let proof for 1 to 1 1/2 hours, until when the dough is delicately pressed with a finger, the impression remains.
Place one pan onto the baking stone. Baked for 22 minutes, or until golden brown. Repeat with the second pan. Let cool completely on cooling racks.