Come on baby, do the (pizza) twist!

From the surprise endings of movies like The Sixth Sense and The Usual Suspects; to crullers, martinis, and – of course – Chubby Checker, some things are just better with a twist. After all, who doesn’t love…

A Slinky, or the corkscrew tail of a piglet? We dance the Twist, we play Twister, and watch more movies about twisters (mooooo). Given our love of twists and turns, it’s no surprise that before long we would begin to twist our food.

King Arthur Flour test kitchen guru Sue Gray came up with this great recipe that takes plain bread sticks to the next level, twisting cheesy buttery goodness inside each stick and baking to golden perfection. It’s a good thing that this recipe makes a big batch of 20, or you’d be twisting your way across the kitchen avoiding the hungry hordes just to get the tray on the table!

Let’s make Pizza Twists.

In a small bowl mix together:

1/4 cup Vermont cheese powder
1 teaspoon pizza seasoning or the dried herbs of your choice
1 tablespoon melted butter
1 tablespoon water

The mixture will be soft, spreadable, and very fragrant.  Set aside while you make up the dough.

( I haven’t tried it, but if you don’t have the cheese powder, very finely shredded cheddar should work out just fine).

Using your favorite method, either by hand or machine, prepare the dough through its first rise:
* 3/4 cup lukewarm water (about 110°F)
* 2 tablespoons olive oil
* 1 tablespoon Pizza Dough Flavor, optional
* 1 teaspoon instant yeast
* 1 3/4 cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
* 1/3 cup Hi-maize Fiber (if unavailable, use additional flour)

After the first rise is complete, turn the dough out onto the counter or a large silicone rolling mat, and pat out with your fingers to de-gas.

Using a combination of your fingers and a rolling pin,  stretch and roll the dough into a 20” x 10” rectangle.

If the dough develops a split or hole, just pinch it back together with your fingers and keep going.

Spread the filling mixture over the dough. I find it helpful to place little blobs of filling all over the dough, then spread them out to meet, rather than trying to spread all the filling from the center to the edges.

Leave a 1/2” border on the long sides so that you can seal those edges.

Sprinkle the filling with 1/2 cup finely shredded mozzarella or pizza-blend cheese.

OH, yummy! And it’s not even baked yet!

Using the mat as a helping hand, fold the dough in half with the filling inside. Press the edges to seal with the heel of your hand.

Using a pizza wheel or sharp knife, GENTLY (so as not to cut the mat) slice the dough in to 1”-wide fingers. They’ll only be sealed at the top and bottom; the sides will be open.

Again, if you’re cutting on the rolling mat, you need to use a plastic knife or wheel. Metal blades will slice the mat as well as the dough.

One strip at a time, twist the strip as though you were turning a key in a lock.

You should be able to get about 4 to 5 twists per strip. Don’t coil them too tightly, though, as they need a bit of room to grow.

Lay the strips side by side on a parchment-lined baking sheet, with about 2″ between them.

Brush lightly with olive oil or garlic oil, cover the twists with plastic wrap, and allow to rise for 1 hour. They’ll look nice and puffy. About 40 minutes into the rise, preheat the oven to 375°F.

Bake the twists until they’re set and just beginning to brown. The exposed cheese will be nice and bubbly, and brown on the tips.

These twists don’t get a dark brown, just barely golden.

Ah, just look at that. Crispy toasted cheese-y outside; soft, warm, and tender inside.  Serve warm with a hearty pizza or marinara sauce for dipping.

Keep on dancin’, Chubby Checker; I’ll take these twists away myself!

Please bake, rate, and review our recipe for Pizza Twists.

Find the printable version of Pizza Twists here.

MaryJane Robbins
About

MaryJane Robbins grew up in Massachusetts and moved to Vermont 20 years ago. After teaching young children for 15 years, she changed careers and joined King Arthur Flour in 2005. MaryJane began working on King Arthur Flour's baker’s hotline in 2006, and the blog team ...

comments

  1. mailbag

    If I want to make ahead and freeze these, can I do what you suggested on the blog when making Flakey Cheese Twists? AS MENTIONED:

    Tips from our bakers
    Want to make, shape, freeze, then bake these cheese twists on demand? It’s easy. Prepare twists right up to the point of baking: shape, place close together on a lightly greased or parchment-lined baking sheet, and brush with egg wash BUT WITH THE PIZZA TWIST VERSION, INSERT “BRUSH WITH GARLIC OIL OR OLIVE OIL INSTEAD OF THE EGG WASH”. Cover the baking sheet with plastic wrap, and freeze twists till solid; this will take about 90 minutes. When frozen, remove twists from the baking sheet, and wrap well in plastic. When you’re ready to serve, there’s no need to thaw first. Simply remove twists from the freezer, place on a baking sheet, and bake in a preheated 400°F oven for 15 to 17 minutes, until golden brown.

    It would be GREAT to make these ahead so I could have them on hand whenever I get the urge for pizza twists…

    The difference is, the pizza twists are yeast-based and should really rise before baking. So if you planned ahead enough to thaw/let rise, then sure, you could do just as you say above. PJH

    Reply
  2. binag

    I tried these without all the King Arthur products – except the flour – and they were great!. I served them with a pizza dipping sauce and the platter was cleaned out. My question – is there any way to adapt these to make a sweet pastry? A Cinnamon Raisin Twist perhaps?

    How about using our recipe for Soft Cinnamon Twists? I think it’ll be just what you’re looking for… PJH

    Reply
  3. paulak58

    Can’t wait to try these, got a good giggle out of your Chubby Checker reference–my husband worked on his cars. And nice cars they were—along with a sweet man. I always try to make the recipe exactly as shown the first time and then be creative the next time….otherwise my creativity can really foul up an otherwise wonderful recipe. We all have THOSE recipes we have not lived down when we tinkered a bit too much….
    Wow, that’s sooo cool! I always loved his smile and it seemed like he was a genuinely nice guy. Glad to hear that he really was sweet. Thanks for sharing! ~ MaryJane

    Reply
  4. Paul p

    These little babies are great. They are easy and simple to make. I like King Arthur products because they work well and the people there are always glad to answer questions. In fact they helped me figure out the proper way to measure flour. All these years and I just scooped flour out of a bin. Now I find out that it works better if you weigh it, but barring that, to fluff it up first before putting it into a measuring cup. Love it.

    Paul

    http://phpalumbo.com

    Reply
  5. Maria

    These are GREAT! They are delicious and so easy to make. They are crunchy, chewy, and light in texture. I didn’t have any of the KAF additions on hand so I left them out. I added some sun dried tomatoes and basil…so good. I will make them again with some garlic butter or pesto. They’d probably be delicious with cinnamon/sugar for something sweet.

    Reply
  6. dixiegrassl

    Where else can you get great instruction and inspiration; photos and online help. Go ahead and tell me about new products. since it’s still a free country, I can use Penzy’s spice or something I concoct on my own. That’s the fun of it, that many times it’s an art and not a science. Yeah for the smell of baking dough!

    Reply

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