Bread Twists (or Sticks)

One of my local Americanized Italian restaurants offers these. They’re fun, tasty and people like them. In the illustrations here, I’m experimenting with different amounts of dough, tightness of twist, different brushings and other factors (and I had already eaten some, yum, yum).

Technology and technique are required making this a little craft project as well.

  1. Go to the hardware store and buy a bunch of ¼" hardwood dowels.
  2. Cut dowels into 12" lengths.
  3. Brush with a paper towel dipped in vegetable oil.
  4. Cut a 2×6" wood block; mine is a scrap piece of Trex™ decking material.
  5. Pierce shallow holes in block down one side at 4" intervals and the same number down the other side offset between the first row.
    You also need two baker’s half-sheet baking pans or cookie sheets and two grill/racks of the sort that you cool a batch of cookies on. (These are behind the baked twists in the picture above.)


1. Make a batch of dough. Any sweet dough will probably do, but the bread twists pictured here use my Rich and Tender American Dinner Rolls recipe. Allow the dough to double (only) during the first rise.

Figure on a recipe containing 4 cups of flour to make 12 breadtwists.

2. At the end of the first rise, roll dough gently out into a large square. It will be about ¼" thick. Cut into about 12 strips. I folded my strips in half lengthwise to make them thinner before twisting.

I cut 12 dowels so I need 12 strips of dough. However, this illustration shows (because I didn’t use all 12) what happens when you get too much dough on one stick: weighing too much, it slips down the stick. This doesn’t affect the taste, just the looks.

3. Lightly press one end of a strip of dough onto the end of a stick, then roll the strip up by twisting the stick while you support the dough as it’s gathered on the stick. At the end of the strip of dough, just above the bottom of the stick (or wherever it lands), pinch the dough off onto itself so that it doesn’t unravel.

4. Set aside in a warm place for the second rise, about ½ hour. As pictured here, this was in one of my un-refrigerated bedrooms for me (summer time). In winter time, this would be my kitchen.

5. Preheat oven to coincide with end of second rise. Despite the temperature given in my dough recipe, I set the oven between 400°-425°.

6. Equip two half-sheet pans with pastry cooling racks. Spray them liberally with no-stick spray. Brush the now-raised breadsticks with butter and sprinkle finely grated Parmiggiano reggiano and/or bits of garlic, etc. as desired.

7. Lay the breadsticks, including dowels, on their side on the racks, not touching, and put them into the oven on two shelves. Bake until your idea of what done is.