Indulgent amounts of aromatic garlic, and goodies, slathered across chewy, golden crusted, butter-smeared focaccia that gives way to a soft yeasty middle.
The sorcery of billowing yeast, the intoxication of aromatic garlic, the addictive sweetness of butter, the undeniable satisfaction of biting into the perfect mingle of chewy, crusty and soft, topped off with a wee, briny, heat kick. Oh mama! Now that's the staff of life.
We love this garlic bread at our house. It's kind of our 'house' bread. And it's rather magnifique for sopping up spicy meat sauce or creamy alfredo, or for slipping under pieces of BBQ steak, or for dipping into rich, red-wine-laced stew, or of course, crowned with slices of garden-fresh heirloom tomatoes.
Is it handcrafted? Yes. Is it ridiculously easy? But of course, thanks to my trusty sidekick Betty, the Breadmaker.
Yes, yes, I named my breadmaker. We're best friends! Betty and I are like this......
I use the base focaccia recipe to dress up in all different delicious guises and for pizza crust too, or just plain, with a good grind of sea salt and black pepper, to dip in silky olive oil and tangy-sweet balsamic.
Do it! Come on......pull out the ol' breadmaker and take a whack at our house garlic bread. You'll be glad you did. Really, really, for reals.
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"The smell of good bread baking, like the sound of lightly flowing water, is indescribable in it's evocation of innocence and delight......
Breadmaking is one of those almost hypnotic businesses, like a dance
from some ancient ceremony. It leaves you filled with one of the world's
sweetest smells...... there is no chiropractic treatment,
no Yoga exercise, no hour of meditation in a music-throbbing chapel
that will leave you emptier of bad thoughts then this homely
ceremony of making bread"
~ M.F.K. Fisher, The Art of Eating: 50th Anniversary Edition
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HOUSE GARLIC BREAD - Makes 2
3 teaspoons breadmaker yeast (or 2 teaspoons breadmaker yeast and 1 teaspoon traditional yeast)
2 tablespoons sugar
2 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Just barely 1 1/3 cups warm water
Olive oil for baking pan
Cornmeal for baking pan
TOPPING (for 2 loaves):
6 plump garlic cloves, minced
4 tablespoons fresh Italian parsley, chopped
4 heaping tablespoons Calamata or green olives, roughly chopped
(If you don't like olives, just leave them out)
1/2 teaspoon dried red chile flakes
6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Sea salt flakes
4 tablespoons cold butter, cut or broken into little pieces.
Set breadmaker to Dough Cycle, add ingredients in order given; yeast, sugar, flour, salt, olive oil, warm water. Close lid and let "Betty" do her thing. While she is, smear a large (13"x18") rimmed baking sheet with a good splash of olive oil and sprinkle generously with cornmeal. Set aside.
In a smal bowl, mix together minced garlic, Italian parsley, olives, red chile flakes and 6 tablespoons olive oil. Set topping aside.
Preheat oven to 400F. Pat and schmush each dough flat, leaving at least 1 inch between loaves. Once the dough is patted out to about 3/4"-1" (or so) thickness, use your fingertips to press indentations into the dough. These little pockets will catch lovely bits of flavour, and give more texture to your baked bread.
Now slather 1/2 of the topping mixture, fairly evenly onto each loaf. Grind fresh sea salt lightly over the top or sprinkle with sea salt flakes. Now, I usually take a really sharp knife and cut 5 or 6, 2-inch-ish slashes, randomly, through each loaf and then pull them open a bit. These cuts create even more happy, happy texture.
Pop in the oven for 18-20 minutes, until golden brown, and you can no longer resist the heavenly bouquet. Remove from oven and dot with little bits of butter. Cut in random size and shape pieces and dig in.