Homemade is Better—Garlic Garlic Bread

I was making pasta at home one day and thought I could use some garlic bread to go with it.  Rather than run out to the store and get some, I thought I should take the opportunity to make my own so that I could write an article about it.

Making bread is easy; shaping bread is the challenging part.  My left-hand doesn’t work very well, which is a story on its own, but I do what I can with it.  I’m not very consistent with rolling out my loaves of bread, and they usually turn out misshapen, but they still taste great.  Hopefully, you can have better success with rolling, or don’t roll it and turn it into a loaf.  Either way, you win because you made your very own garlic bread!

I wanted to add a little extra garlic to this recipe to give it that punch that I find mass-produced garlic bread is missing.  You will notice that my recipe uses almost a full head of garlic.  While I enjoy most garlic bread, I wanted this recipe to have an unmistakable garlic flavour.  After all, if it doesn’t scare vampires, it doesn’t have enough garlic.

When it comes to making bread, many methods and equipment can be used.  The bakeries have special ovens that utilize moisture and heat to finish their creations.  At home, you probably don’t.  So, we must improvise the best way we can.  For that hard-shelled outside, you will want to use an oven-proof dish with ice cubes.  Put it in at the same time as the bread, and the melting ice will create steam, giving the bread a crispy top.  The next ingredient we need is an egg wash to give it that glossy colour, just like pie crust.  These steps are optional, of course, and will not change the taste of your garlic bread; they are merely for the feast for the eyes.  For the slits in the finished bread, we use a sharp knife and cut the slits before the bread bakes, usually before the second proofing, which is yet another essential step.  The second proofing is how we get the air holes, allowing the break to rise to our desired finish.  You’re first proofing to relax the dough, then you shape it and proof it a second time, although not as long.

Shaping is the tricky part.  If you have a loaf pan and you prefer to use it or them, then divide your dough equally into the pans.  You want the dough to take up half the pan before the second rise.  If you roll it and shape it, you’ll punch it down after the first rise and roll it into a rectangular shape.  Move from bottom to top, then use your hands to push the dough like you did when you were a kid to make a long snake shape.  You want to get the air out of the dough; otherwise, it will puff up incorrectly, and you’ll have a giant bubble in your finished bread that isn’t desirable.  Be gentle, but firm, which can be an oxymoron.  You’re not trying to flatten the dough but trying to get the air pockets out.  Once you’ve got to about 10 inches, you’ll transfer it to a baking sheet sprinkled with cornmeal to keep the bread from sticking.  Put your slits in it if you’d like, and let it rise until it is doubled in size again.  Then follow the baking instructions, let it cool completely, and add garlic butter.

I hope you enjoy making this recipe, so let’s see how it’s done.

Garlic Garlic Bread

Ingredients:

2 tsp yeast
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp fine salt
1 cup warm water
2 1/2 cups flour
3 cloves garlic minced fine
1 tbsp onion powder
1 lb butter
6 cloves of garlic minced

Directions:
  • Mix the yeast, sugar, and salt into the bowl of your mixer. Add the warm water.  It should feel warm on your finger, not hot.  If you do not have a mixer, follow the instructions below but mix everything by hand.
  • Once the yeast mixture bubbles and foams, add the onion and three cloves of minced garlic, then the flour ½ cup at a time. Mix the dough until it is firm and holds its shape.  It should be slightly tacky but not sticky.
  • Knead the dough for 10 minutes on speed 2 of your stand mixer. If doing this by hand, knead on a clean, lightly floured surface for ten minutes.  You’ll have wanted to save some of the flour from the mixing.
  • Once the dough is mixed and kneaded, form it into a ball and cover it for up to three hours or until it has doubled.
  • Once it has doubled, knead it for two minutes, then shape it. If using a loaf pan, spray the pan so the bread will come out.  If using a sheet pan, sprinkle it with cornmeal so the dough will stick.
  • Cur your slits into the bread and cover it until it has doubled.
  • Preheat your oven to 375F.
  • Once the bread has doubled in size, put it in the oven for up to 20 minutes. You’ll know the bread is done when you can put a toothpick in the middle, and it comes out clean, OR it reaches 210F on a thermometer.
  • If you want the crispy top on it, add a small container filled with ice. The ice will melt and add steam, which you want at the beginning of the baking process.
  • Allow the dough to rest on a wire rack.
  • Mix the remaining garlic and butter into a compound butter. Spread it on the cooled bread, then set your oven to 350F.
  • Bake the garlic bread until the top starts turning brown; for the extra browning, set your oven to broil and broil the bread for two minutes. Watch the bread; make sure the broil doesn’t burn it.
  • Let it cool for five minutes and then slice and devour.
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