Garlic bread is not a complicated concept; it’s bread with garlic on it. But, within those two ingredients alone, there is a lot of room for variation. I’ve tinkered around with both the bread and garlic portions of the pungent carb (butter, however is nonnegotiable), and I have arrived at what I believe to be quite an ideal situation.
Garlic is great in all of its many forms but, like most plant parts, it is at its absolute best when roasted. Roasting garlic mellows its pungency and tempers its aggressive bite, but it also intensifies its sweetness and creates new, deeper flavours through that lovely little Maillard reaction. It's also a freaking cinch to make.
Though garlic bread is an Italian concept, I prefer using a French bâtard as my delivery system. Not only does it have the perfect ratio of soft, open crumb to chewy crust, it’s shorter and wider than a baguette, meaning you have more surface area to paint with glorious garlic butter.
For the garlic butter, you’ll need what some consider to be an obscene amount of garlic, prepared two different ways. A whole head of roasted garlic anchors the bread with sweet, roasted flavours, while an additional five cloves or raw stuff ups the pungency and adds a bit of heat.
I use salted butter because it eliminates a seasoning step, but you can always use sweet and salt it yourself.
Finally, a small handful of fresh flat-leaf parsley adds a bit of herbaceous brightness.
You’ll notice there’s no Parmesan cheese to be found. That’s because it obscures the flavour of, and disrespects the garlic. (Cheese bread is very good, but it’s a different thing.) To make some yourself, you will need:
- A French bâtard or another wide loaf of crusty, white bread, cut into slices.
- 110g of room-temperature salted butter, divided into several pieces
- 1 head of garlic + 5 cloves (smashed), divided
- A drizzle of olive oil
- 1 small handful of fresh flat-leaf parsley (this is mostly to taste, add a little bit at a time)
Preheat your oven to 205C. Remove the loose, papery outer layer from the head of garlic, trim about 0.5cm off the top to expose the cloves, and drizzle it with olive oil.
Wrap the garlic in foil, and roast it in the oven until it is caramelised, about 40 minutes.
Once that’s done, chuck it into the food processor with the butter and the five cloves of raw garlic. Process, scraping the side of the bowl as needed, until you have a smooth spread.
Add the parsley and pulse until it is well-dispersed throughout the butter, taking care not to blend it into oblivion.
Liberally spread the butter on the sliced bread, switch your oven to it’s broil setting (if it has one), and pop it all directly on the rack of your oven. Let it cook until it starts to brown on the edges.
Serve immediately with something drenched in tomato sauce, or just shovel it in your mouth while drinking wine from a can. Both are Claire-tested and Claire-approved.