A warm bread basket with interesting butter (perhaps whipped or infused with honey or garlic) can elevate a meal and make the experience feel fancier. But trying to recreate that bread at home can be difficult.

For example, when setting out to make a brown bread similar to the one served at Cheesecake Factory, you may not know that the restaurant uses cocoa powder and espresso powder to give the bread a richer, full-bodied taste, according to Taste of Home. It’s one of the secrets of restaurant bread.

And there are more.

Making restaurant-quality breadsticks and rolls may take some practice, but there are some tips that can help you improve your baking.

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Take a look at the liquids you’re using

Using tap water to make your bread is the easiest option, but using filtered water can help in the bread-baking process. According to The Bread Guide, tap water is generally OK to use, but you don’t want your water to be too hard or soft.

If you live in an area known for hard water, then using filtered tap water can be a good substitute and might improve the quality of your baked goods. Instead of using water, you can also try using milk.

The Stay at Home Chef said using milk instead of water can produce a softer loaf. This is true for both breadsticks and rolls, too. If you want a soft, pillowy and slightly sweet yeasty roll for dinner, then using milk instead of water might help.

Regardless, using a thermometer when you’re heating up your water or milk is important because of the way liquids interact with the yeast.

Is your yeast dead?

Speaking of yeast, before you start baking, make sure to check if your yeast is alive and was stored properly.

The best way to test to see if yeast is alive or dead is to proof it. The Spruce Eats said, “Proof your yeast to find out if it’s still active by adding 1 teaspoon of sugar and 214 teaspoons of yeast (one envelope) to 14 cup of warm water. Then, wait 10 minutes. If the mixture bubbles and develops a yeasty aroma, the yeast is still good.”

If your yeast is dead, you may want to wait to purchase more yeast before you begin your recipe. When you proof your yeast, make sure the water isn’t too hot, because water might kill yeast. As simple as it may be, you will also want to double-check the yeast you’re using is the same yeast the recipe calls for, because different types of yeast will act differently.

Yes, you’ll need a little sugar and salt

While making bread, leaving out the sugar and salt may seem like a good idea because cutting back on sugar and salt can contribute positively to overall health. But when it comes to baking bread, sugar and salt both play an important role in the baking process.

Red Star Yeast said, “Sugar (glucose) provides ‘food’ for yeast, which converts it to carbon dioxide and alcohol; sugar enhances bread flavor; gives the crust a golden color; improves the crumb texture; and helps retain moisture in bread.” Table sugar or honey or brown sugar (depending on the type of bread) feeds the yeast, so you’ll want to include a little bit of it when baking bread.

Salt also performs vital functions when it comes to bread baking. According to King Arthur Baking, salt “controls the rate of yeast fermentation, strengthens gluten, improves crust color and modifies flavor.” Generally speaking, salt slows down the yeast, so the yeast doesn’t expand too rapidly and also aids in the formation of a loaf. Including it will make better breadsticks.

Weigh your ingredients

The spoon and level method of measuring out ingredients works in a pinch, but when it comes to baking, you want to be as precise as possible. As the adage goes, cooking is an art, baking is a science.

Using a scale to measure out the ingredients will prevent dry bread.

Don’t overwork your dough

With the Kitchen Aid dough hook, it can be easy to put your bread dough in the bowl and then let the stand mixer work its magic. While using a stand mixer is a great way to aid you, you want to make sure the gluten in the bread isn’t developing too much.

When you knead bread, you’re aiming for elasticity in your dough. Smooth, elastic dough will produce bread with a great, chewy crumb. If the gluten is developed too much, then your breadsticks or rolls will come out with a tough crumb.

Pay attention to the baking and rising environments

Moisture is an important and underrated component of baking bread. An easy way to create a warm, moist environment for your bread to rise in is to take a bowl of water and heat it up in your microwave until it is steaming. Then, cover your dough in a bowl and put it in the microwave to let it rise. Make sure to cover the dough with a damp cloth.

When baking bread in your own home, you may think to just put it in the oven, but there’s something else you can do. Bake the bread on the middle rack (but remove the top rack) and on the bottom rack, put an oven safe pan with some water in it to create steam in your oven. This will help the bread come out with a good crumb.

Don’t forget to top your bread

Olive Garden breadsticks are one of the most iconic chain menu items — these breadsticks have a warm garlicky and salty margarine on top. Adding a topping to your breadsticks or rolls can help elevate them to restaurant quality.

All it takes is melting some butter and infusing it with herbs and spices, and then you brush it on top. You can do this right when the bread comes out of the oven. Before you bake your bread, you can brush it with a little water to help with the moisture.

And finally, follow the recipe

When it comes to baking breadsticks and rolls, the proportions of ingredients matters a lot. Following the recipe can ensure you get a finished product with a good flavor and crumb. Here are some recipes to try for breadsticks and rolls: