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Homemade garlic bread is irresistible and this one is made from scratch, dough, baguette and all. With lightly cheesy garlic butter, which you’ll wish you’d have made double the amount of, spread over the slices of tear-and-share loaf, it’s bliss coming out of the oven.
Take a slice of bread, butter it and sandwich with a good chunk of cheese. It will certainly fill a hole but not much else. Now take the same sandwich, add a lick of mustard and mayo and flatten it on a red hot griddle pan, turning over twice. Heaven – toasted cheese sandwich is one of the best things in life. The same principle applies to all toasties, panini, croques or grilled cheese – depending where you and your frying pan are from.
Garlic bread works on the same basis. Take Italian bruschetta, which incidentally should be pronounced ‘brooSKetta’. Appealing, but basic: a toasted slice rubbed with a garlic clove and drizzled with oil. It won’t tempt anyone who thinks pineapple makes a traditional pizza topping. But if you smash the garlic with the fat – okay: butter, let’s face it – and stuff it in between the bread slices, the world goes mad for it. The chopped parsley is mandatory too, by the way: I don’t know how I’d react if presented with a garlic bread portion all in uniform beige; send it back and post a stinker on TripAdvisor, probably. I’ll confess there was a time when I thought garlic was green as a standard.
My point is that processing – and cooking IS processing whether you like it or not – transforms food and there is no question about it. That’s why it’s so hard to diet: cooking, processing, transforming food makes it tasty but inescapably adds a whack of calories.
An average bruschetta with its splash of oil won’t amount to more than 70 calories per a decent slice. And you’ll more often than not have fresh chopped tomatoes atop it, adding next to zero calories and a great deal in nutrition. Garlic bread on the other hand counts about 200 calories a portion, even if you’re being modest, and it inexplicably accompanies a (lethal in itself) dish of pasta or pizza.
Does it mean I’m shooting myself in the foot, writing what amounts to ‘don’t make this!’ above my recipe? Not at all; I’m just feeling obliged to issue a warning because this garlic bread here is absolutely seductive.
Of course, you don’t have to make the baguette from scratch; buy a decent French stick instead, but just think how many calories you’ll burn doing all the kneading?
garlic breadServings: 2 baguettesTime: 4 hours (includes making bread dough)
- For the bread sticks:
- 340g French white type 55 flour or strong white flour
- 7g (1 tsp) salt
- 9g fresh or 3g fast action yeast
- 230g lukewarm water
- For the garlic butter:
- 100g (8 tbsp.) unsalted butter, softened
- 4 garlic cloves
- 1 tsp coarse or flaked salt
- 2-3 tbsp. grated Parmesan
- ½ bunch flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
- ½ bunch dill, finely chopped
- freshly ground black pepper
1. To make the bread sticks, mix all the ingredients into soft sticky dough by hand or in a standing mixer on the lowest speed. Leave for 5 minutes then knead or mix again until the dough forms a smooth ball and is silky and elastic to the touch. Place in an oiled bowl, cover with cling film and keep for an hour in a warm place.
2. It should rise appreciably, about twice in volume. Turn it out onto a floured surface and divide into 2 pieces. Pat each piece gently into a rectangle then fold the bottom edge up to the middle and press with your fingers. Now lift the top and fold over right to the bottom and seal well. Let it rest for 10 minutes, then repeat exactly the same process with each baguette, rolling it out with your hands to the desired length.
3. Place the baguettes in a baking tray lined with parchment; lift the parchment in the middle to separate the two. Cover with a cloth or put in an inflated plastic bag (just blow into it and tie the ends!) and leave in a warm place to prove for about an hour and a quarter, until slightly puffed up and spread.
4. Preheat the oven to the highest setting. Make incisions in each baguette to mark where it should be sliced, place the trays in the oven and spray it very generously with water (a plant pressure sprayer works the best). Close the oven door quickly and turn the heat down to 230C/450F/gas 8. Bake for 15 minutes, then turn the oven off and leave them in for another 3 minutes until barely coloured. Cool on a wire rack.
5. To make the garlic butter, melt 2 tablespoons of the butter in a small skillet over very low heat. Slice 1 garlic clove thinly and add to the butter. Sweat it for 10 minutes until very fragrant but don’t let it colour. Set aside to cool slightly.
6. Pound the remaining garlic cloves in pestle and mortar with the salt until mashed to a paste. Scrape into the melted butter, add the rest of the butter, Parmesan, parsley and dill and beat with a spoon until combined. Chill briefly in the fridge.
7. Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/gas 6. Cut slits in the baguettes almost to the bottom of the loaf. Spread the garlic butter in the slits with a palette or butter knife, generously. Place the baguette on a large piece of foil and wrap tightly. At this point it can be frozen for later use, or if you have made a surplus.
8. Bake for 15 minutes, then open up the foil exposing the bread. Bake for another 5 minutes until crisp and golden. Serve, tear and share.