Combine warm water and yeast in a large bowl. Add a pinch of your granulated sugar (about 1 teaspoon) and stir. Let sit until yeast has bloomed and there is a foamy cap on top of the water (5-10 minutes).
Once yeast has bloomed, add remaining sugar, olive oil, salt, garlic powder (if using) and approximately half of the bread flour (approximately 1 cup/125g, but you can just eyeball this). Stir until completely combined using a wooden spoon or spatula.
Gradually add remaining flour as needed (you may not need all of the flour called for, or you may need a bit extra, go by feel following the cues that follow) until the dough clings to itself and pulls away from the sides of the bowl as you stir. The dough will be slightly tacky but not so sticky that it isn’t manageable (video above provides visual if needed)
Transfer dough to a clean, lightly floured surface and knead with your hands until the dough is smooth and elastic (about 5 minutes). If the dough is too sticky, lightly dust it with additional flour.
Lightly grease a large bowl with olive oil and transfer dough to prepared bowl. Turn the dough to coat lightly with the oil. Cover bowl with plastic wrap or a clean towel and place in a warm spot to rise until doubled in size (about 45-60 minutes).
Once dough has risen, gently deflate with your hands and transfer to a clean, lightly floured surface. Divide into 9 even pieces and form each into a 6-7” (15-18cm) rope.
Place on a parchment paper lined baking sheet, spacing ropes at least 2” (5cm) apart. Cover with plastic wrap or a clean towel and let rise until increased in size by 50% (about 20 minutes). While dough is rising, preheat oven to 400F (205C).
Once breadsticks have risen, uncover and transfer to 400F (205C) oven. Bake for 10-13 minutes or until they are just beginning to turn a light golden brown. You may prepare the topping while the breadsticks are baking or immediately after they come out of the oven.
Whisk together melted butter, salt, and garlic powder until well-combined.
Use a pastry brush to lightly brush butter mixture over each warm breadstick. If desired, sprinkle with grated parmesan cheese.
I preferred the slightly chewier results that I got when I made these with bread flour, but you can substitute an equal amount of all-purpose flour instead.
Store leftover breadsticks in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days. Warm in the oven or microwave before serving.