The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Arizmendi Bakery Breadsticks

alfanso's picture

Arizmendi Bakery Breadsticks

We spent the month of November in northern California, where we lived for 15 years.  In SF for Thanksgiving with long long time friends, we stopped at one of the Arizmendi Bakeries that dot the bay area.  Among other delectables, we picked up their Sesame Semolina Jalapeño Cheese breadsticks, which we both fell for immediately.  Upon return home my wife asked if I could try to duplicate them.  So…

Looking for guidance here on TFL and the other sites, what I mostly saw was what would qualify as Grissini, those tall slender and sometimes gnarly things. I wasn’t interested in those near ubiquitous Skinny Minnies that are posted everywhere, nor those overly cheesy soft things that made a number of appearances as well.  No.  What I was after was a crisp sesame coated semolina version with some real girth to it.  The idea being to come as close to duplicating those treasured batons that we picked up in SF.

I relied on Jeffery Hamelman’s "Semolina (Durum) Bread" formula as my template, and then modified it to suit.  With the swapping out of the olive oil for more water and the addition of the two cheeses and jalapeños, this was no longer a Hamelman but an Alfanso with the nod to Mr. H.  This is a dough that uses an aggressive sponge, ready in 75 minutes in my 78-80dF kitchen.  

At 80g each, the breadsticks baked in a 460dF oven for 13 minutes with steam, 6 additional minutes and then 2 minutes more for venting.  And for a first time, I did not remove the parchment paper from under the dough.  Too delicate and messy to bother with.  

The Arizmendi breadstick, the real deal, exhibits both a pronounced cheese flavor as well as at the bite of the jalapeño in the back of the mouth.  I’m not quite there yet in either department, but the first inklings of the stronger taste are just beginning to show through.  Still have some work to do.  

Here is the formula normalized to 1000g, which is what I used for this bake.


Semolina Cheddar Jalapeño breadsticks with sponge     
Jeffrey Hamelman, mod by alfanso        
     Total Flour    
     AP Flour20.00%   
 Total Dough Weight (g) 1000 Semolina20.00%   
 Total Formula   Sponge  Final Dough 
 Ingredients%Grams %Grams IngredientsGrams
 Total Flour100.00%509.7 100.00%203.9 Final Flour305.8
 AP Flour50.00%254.8 50%101.9 AP Flour152.9
 Semolina50.00%254.8 50%101.9 Semolina152.9
 Water69.00%351.7 70%142.7 Water209.0
 Salt1.80%9.2    Salt9.2
 IDY0.40%2.0 1%2.0 IDY0.0
 Sugar2.00%10.2 5%10.2 Sugar0.0
 EV Olive Oil0.00%0.0    EV Olive Oil0.0
 sharp Cheddar Cheese7.50%38.2    Cheddar Cheese38.2
 Parmesan Cheese7.50%38.2    Parmesan Cheese38.2
 finely chopped Jalapeño8.00%40.8    Jalapeño40.8
 Totals196.20%1000.0 176%358.8  1000.0
Total time: ~5.5 Hours.        

Finely grate both cheeses

Mix all sponge ingredients well.  Will ripen in 75 min. (in a 78-80dF kitchen).  CONCURRENTLY...

Autolyse final dough flours and water        
Combine the sponge and autolyse and hand mix well.  Add salt and hand  mix again.   
75 French Folds, then a 5 minute rest.         
Add cheese and jalapeno and hand mix to incorporate.  And a final 75 FFs more.And a final 75 FFs more.    
Bulk rise 90 min with one fold at 45 min..       
Divide into 80g pieces.  Rest 15-20 min. and final shape ~14-17 in. long.    
Roll in wet towel and then in sesame seeds.       
Onto couche, final rise 60 min.        
Preheat oven 480dF.        
Bake at 460dF with steam.        
13 minutes, remove steam, 6 minutes more.  Then vent for 2 minutes with oven off.   


During our absence our friend house/dog sat.  Upon our return I asked her which bread she’d like me to make for her.  She opened my looseleaf and while blindly flipping pages stopped on the Phillipe Gosselin Baguettes, levain version.  I have rarely made this in the 4 or so years since my first foray.  but as the lady asks, the dude abides.

M. Gosselin is another luminary boulanger in Paris, another who, I believe, also won the annual competition for best baguette in Paris.  The formula that I use was posted on TFL by David Snyder back in 2012.    And as you can see, these make for explosive oven spring and a quite open crumb.



isand66's picture

I’ve been meaning to try breadsticks so thanks for posting this.  Let me know if you end up changing anything.  I want to give these a try soon.

Happy Baking.


alfanso's picture

It's funny how this style doesn't seem to have much traction.   As a young man I recall seeing the Stella D'oro version of these in just about every supermarket and on a lot of tables in the Bronx & Queens Italian restaurants.  So I thought that this was the "traditional" style of breadstick.  But not according to what I couldn't find on TFL or other baking sites.

In the next few days I'll try subbing out the Cheddar/Parmigiana cheeses for some robust Pecorino Romano, but still can't figure out how to coax more from the jalapeños, as I think that they lose their oomph during the baking phase.

As you know, I'm mostly a minimalist in dough additives, with few diversions.  But my wife got me jump-started on these, and like a dog with a bone, I'm not letting go so fast.  I also like the braided version on the left and think that I may take that to three braids as well just to see what it will do.  Other than babka and my singular try of the fabulous txfarmer's fabulous laminated sandwich loaf this is the only other time I've ever braided dough.  Won't be the last!


MonkeyDaddy's picture

This is my first post in a few months - I kinda took the summer off from baking.  It just makes the house too hot, even with the AC running.  Yours was one of the first posts I saw when I came back and I thought I had remembered something about choosing hotter jalapenos so I did some checking and I found this:      

Good luck with the breadsticks!


alfanso's picture

Thanks for the link, Mike.  I just checked the one remaining pepper from the pack and it, as well as all the others I already used had no striations on it.  Just a delightful solid green color.  Now I know what to look for today.


isand66's picture

You may want to also try adding some dried peppers in powder form.  We love using Ancho Chile powder and Chipotle Chile powder in many dishes and I'm sure it would add some extra kick to your breadsticks as well.  We buy most of our spices from  They used to have a few stores on the Island but they closed so now we order on-line.

alfanso's picture

but we thought the better of it.  The original doesn't have a chili flavor lacing through the entire breadstick.  What we both liked about the Arizmendi was that here and there we tasted that "pop" of chili flavor and mild heat.  As of right now, and with these Mike-inspired jalapeños, I'll attempt the next batch hoping for an enhanced flavor from both the stronger cheese as well as the hotter jalapeños.

Thinking of splitting the next batch between the breadsticks, a braid or two and a baguette.  Just because!


leslieruf's picture

I keep coming back for another look.  the crumb on the baguettes is great.

good luck with your cheese and Jalapeno hunt.  interesting article in the link.


dabrownman's picture

Sunflower bakery that has a cheese and jalapeno bread that was cheesy and Hot.  Brownmen don't buy no jalapenos that lack striations on them either.  I was told as a young man to go for the ugly ones but, I'm so old I can'l remember if they were talking about peppers or something else?  But, that was for sure how I ended up with Lucy:-)  You can always sub in some Serrano's and no one would ever know.  Peppers, especially jalapenos lose much of their real heat when they are cooked so you have to add way more of them then you think to get the heat right.  P;us people take out the seeds and that is where the flavor and heat is anyway.  I say be bold or go home to good looking.... instead of ugly hot!

Love both the sort of skinny and the real fat sticks very much.    Well done and happy baking Don Baggs

alfanso's picture

and I was always, until today, looking for the "perfect" jalapeño and rejecting the "gnarly" ones.  Coming from a SW cooking maven such as yourself, I'll take your suggestion under advise.  

With a fresh supply of Pecroino Romano and some Scovilled-up peppers at hand I'll see how this run goes.  If the pepper fails me this time, I'll take your suggestion and up the ante with Serranos instead.  Seeds shall be removed, although I might keep some of the veins in.  I don't want something that requires me to drink a gallon of water to ease the pain in the event that the heat comes through like a blowtorch.  Not enough experience with hot peppers to make assumptions.

It's hard to add more pepper as they already dot the dough landscape and are successfully executing escape plans while I French Fold the dough, and have to be collected and placed back in.

As far as going for the ugly ones...I'm sure that you'll recall this 1963 song, If You Want To Be Happy.  Fun back then to a young teen, but in reality, pretty offensive, even in jest.  And leave Lucy out of it.  She may be aging and snoozy with short legs, but she still has those killer looks and eyelashes.  If I weren't hooked up with my Castagna, I might try to dognap her.  As long as she signs a document stating that she won't throw up on my toes... 

MonkeyDaddy's picture

Scoville and drinking water in the same paragraph.  When Wilbur Scoville first made his heat scale, "Scoville Units" were based on the amount of water needed to dilute pepper extract to the point that a panel of tasters could no longer feel the heat.  The current world record holder is the Carolina Reaper pepper with a Scoville rating of 1,400,000 to 2,200,000 !!   Imagine the amount of water you'd have to drink to tame that puppy. 

These days a more quantifiable value is obtained in a lab using a chromatograph, but it's always cool to learn something fun about cooking history.  Just FYI


EDIT  P.S.  Dairy products are much better for getting rid of the burn.  The acids in the milk competitively block the capsaicin receptor sites on the tongue.  That's why Mexican restaurants often put sour cream on the plate.

alfanso's picture

Were it not for David Snyder posting his version, there would be no me posting mine either.  David's crumb is really fabulous, and I agree, that the dough is quite slack and a bit of a problem to shape.  As with other breads that David has posted over the years, I have gotten a lot if inspiration from him (among a handful of others), including my first success - the Bouabsa baguette.

I was able to find a few jalapeños with some tan striations today.  Since it isn't such a perfect looking fruit, I guess markets don't have an affinity for carrying them.  I went to three distinct markets today and found the few, only in the first of them. 

I'll give the breadsticks another whirl this weekend.


Nickisafoodie's picture

Your recipe looks divine.  With the cheese and jalapeno, plus considering the larger size, are these fully dry and hard throughout when finished as you see in the thinner style bread sticks, or are more baguette like with hard crust and softer inside?  Does 80 grams per impact the final outcome re hardness?  I want to make these and would like to understand the intended texture.

Thanks!  Awesome job!


alfanso's picture

On my first run of these, I had divided the dough into 40g sticks - more like the grissini style, and they were too thin, but did have that more brittle crumb - like grissini, so they definitely do have a valid place in one's repertoire.  When I doubled the weight to 80g, trying to mimic the Arizmendi, the interior had a more "bread-like" crumb and was neither brittle nor dry as in a pretzel rod.  

Your "hard crust and softer inside" pretty much describes it.  If you are looking for that dry and hard interior, then I suggest sticking to the lighter ~40g weight category and you shouldn't be disappointed.  OTOH, if you want the crunchy exterior and softer crumb, try the ~80g weight.

Thanks for the kind words.  alan.

Nickisafoodie's picture

 Thanks Alan, I actually am preferring the hard outside/soft inside approach and 80G size.  And no doubt softer inside aided by the cheese too.  These are now on my list for next bake! Thanks for the feedback!

Elsie_iu's picture

I've used semola (re-milled semolina) for a couple of bakes and what I noticed was the slight sweetness it contributed. Was that part of the reason you added it to your dough as well? I guess 50% should give a significant impact that would be quite noticeable? Salty cheese and spicy jalapeno sound like great flavors for breadsticks. For sure they'll be even better once you find the "right" jalapeno to give it a greater kick.

For some reason, your breadsticks reminded me of pretzel (the real deal Laugenbrezeln, not the rock hard snack-style pretzels) the moment I saw them... Maybe it was because of the dark shiny crust :) And lastly, your baguettes look amazing, as always. 

alfanso's picture

I've also noticed the sweetness of semolina flour.  I used it because I was trying to copy the breadstick and it had the semolina in it.

I had to look up Laugenbrezeln as I'd never heard of them before.  No, these are crispy crust on the outside and a a soft bread-y crumb inside.  The size and shape reminds me of pretzels rods.

Thanks, alan