“Got knots?” Simply Recipes contributor Hank Shaw does, and boy are they good. Enjoy! ~Elise
When I was a kid growing up in New Jersey, one of my absolute favorite after-school treats would be to walk over to Ferraro’s, dig through my pockets for loose change and buy some garlic knots — garlicky, buttery rolls made from stray bits of pizza dough. At 25 cents apiece, I could buy a lotta knots with a little change.
Garlic knots are a pizzeria favorite, and in New Jersey, their presence was a sign that the pizza joint you just walked into was legit.
Making knots is a thrifty way to use scraps of dough and the leftover garlic-butter-parsley sauce most pizzerias would use for their white pizzas or garlic bread.
Over the years I’ve seen people make gigantic garlic knots the size of croissants, but that seems weird to me. The knots of my youth could fit into the palm of your hand with ease. Eating eight of them at a sitting was no trouble at all.
What are they like? Crusty on the outside, light as air within. Chewy, and almost sour—most garlic knots I remember were made with old pizza dough that was already thinking about fermenting.
The garlic-soaked butter (some places used olive oil) got all over your hands; I’d smell like Ferraro’s for hours after eating them, and if I didn’t finish my supper that night my mom would know why.
A big basket of garlic knots is a great party treat, and is pretty easy to make if you use premade pizza dough. Be warned: Make twice as many as you think you’ll need.
You’ll find yourself reaching for another without thinking, and so will your guests. And if you have a New Jersey native in the house, make a triple batch. I ate half of this recipe at one sitting.
Garlic Knots Recipe
It is perfectly OK to use store-bought pizza dough here. One 14-ounce package of pizza dough will approximate this recipe.
It really helps to use a kitchen scale for measuring the flour. If you don't have a scale, use a scoop and level method of measuring the flour.
If you are making your own dough:
- 7/8 cup (207 ml) warm water (105°F-115°F)
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1 package (2 1/4 teaspoons) of active dry yeast (check the expiration date on the package)
- 2 1/4 cups (300 g) bread flour (can use all-purpose but bread flour will give you a crisper crust)
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1 teaspoon salt
OR, if you are using store-bought pizza dough:
- 14-ounces pizza dough
- 5 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/4 cup parsley, minced
- 1 teaspoon salt
If you are making your own dough, follow steps 1-3. If using store-bought pizza dough, let thaw to room temperature and proceed to step 4.
1 Proof the yeast: Stir the yeast and sugar into a small bowl with the warm water and let it sit for 3-5 minutes, until it starts to foam. (If it foams up, this means the yeast is alive and active. If not, it means the yeast is dead and you'll need to get a new package of yeast. It always helps to check the use-by date on yeast.)
2 Make the dough: In a large bowl, whisk together the flour and salt. Make a well in the center of the flour and pour in the olive oil, then the yeast-sugar-water mixture.
Mix this together to form a soft dough and knead for 5-10 minutes. (Can use a KitchenAid mixer with a dough hook for this step.)
The dough should be soft! And tacky. If it is too dry, add another 1 or 2 tablespoons of water.
3 Let the dough rise: With well-floured hands, shape the dough into a ball and lightly coat with olive oil. Put it in a large bowl, top the bowl with plastic wrap and set it in a sunny spot to rise to double its size. This should take anywhere from 90 minutes to several hours.
Alternatively you can put it in the refrigerator overnight or up to 24 hours to rise slowly (and develop more flavor).
4 Quarter the dough and flatten into rectangles: When the dough has doubled in size, cut it into fourths.
(At this point you if you want to make the dough ahead and freeze, wrap the dough quarters in plastic wrap and freeze for later. Defrost overnight in the fridge to use.)
Set out 2 large baking sheet and line them with a silicone liner or parchment paper (spray parchment paper with some baking spray).
Working with one piece at a time, flatten into rough 4x5-inch rectangles.
5 Slice the dough rectangles into strips: Using a sharp knife or pizza wheel, slice each dough rectangle into 4 long strips (1 x 5-inches).
Cut these strips in half in the middle. You should now have 8 (1 x 2.5-inch) strips.
6 Form knots: Take one piece at a time and work it into the shape of a snake.
Then tie it in a knot.
Set each knot down on the baking sheet and repeat with the remaining dough. Remember that the dough will rise, so leave some space between each knot.
7 Brush with olive oil and let sit to rise: Once all the knots are tied, paint them with a little olive oil.
Loosely cover them with plastic wrap and let them rise again until doubled in size, anywhere from 90 minutes to three hours or so. Toward the end of this rising period, preheat the oven to 400°.
8 Bake the knots: Uncover the knots and bake in the oven 12-15 minutes, or until nicely browned on top.
9 Make garlic butter parsley glaze: While the garlic knots are baking, melt the butter in a small pot and cook the garlic gently in it just long enough to take off that raw garlic edge, about 1-2 minutes over medium-low heat. Add the salt and parsley and stir to combine. Turn off the heat.
10 Brush cooked knots with garlic parsley butter mixture: When the knots are done, take out of the oven and let cool for 5 minutes. Paint with the garlic-butter-parsley mixture and serve. These are best warm, but are good at room temperature, too.
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