Let’s talk about garlic bread. It’s a total summer time thing for me and I almost never make it in the winter, even if it does pair nicely with Italian dishes like the traditional “Spaghetti and Meatballs”. But now that it is summer, it’s time to work on perfecting these loaves of yumminess. This time, I decided to not take a loaf from the store and slather it with garlic and herb butter, but I made the bread too. And I made the “pull apart” / “crazy bread” style bread that I have become so fond of. Added a lot of parm and voila. Yumminess! Best part is that it virtually falls apart into slices when removed from the loaf pan, so no need for a knife.
for the bread dough
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1/2 cup lukewarm milk
1/4 cup lukewarm water
1 large eggs
2 3/4 cups all purpose flour
3 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon kosher salt
2 1/2 teaspoons instant yeast
for the filling
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
8 garlic cloves, finely minced
6 tablespoons fresh herbs, very finely minced*
3/4 cup grated Parmesan
First make your dough as it will need time to rise. Heat milk and butter in a small saucepan over medium until the butter is melted. Remove from heat and whisk in the water and the sugar. Let cool to a maximum of 110F and a minimum of 100F (check with an instant-read thermometer) and before stirring in the yeast. Set aside for about 5-10 minutes or until the yeast is foamy.
Combine flour and salt in a stand mixer with the dough attachment. Add the beaten egg to the yeast mixture and turn the mixer on low. Slowly pour the wet ingredients into the dry and mix until combined. Turn the mixer up to medium and let knead until a sticky dough has formed. Grease a large bowl, place dough inside, and cover with a dish towel or plastic wrap. Let rise in a warm place for an hour or until the dough has doubled in size. Note that at this point, you can refrigerate overnight; just bring up to room temperature before moving to the next step.
Meanwhile, prepare the filling. Heat the butter in a small sauce pan until melted. Once melted, remove from the heat and add 2 tablespoons olive oil, 5 tablespoons of the herbs (reserve remaining olive oil and tablespoon of herbs) and garlic.
Prepare a parchment paper sling for your 9 x 5 inch loaf pan and spray liberally with baking spray.
Turn the dough out onto a well floured board and knead it a few times. Roll out a 12×20 rectangle with the dough (this doesn’t need to be exact). Using a pastry brush the entire surface of the rolled out dough with the butter herb and garlic mixture. Sprinkle with the parmesan. Using a knife or a pizza cutter, cut the bread into thirds from one end of the long side to the other (about 20×4 pieces). Next, slice the bread into fifths on the short side until the whole thing is cut like a pizza you were slicing into squares. Stack the slices on top of each other and transfer sideways to your prepared loaf pan (the same way sliced bread lays in a pan) and repeat with the rest of the dough. Cover with plastic wrap or your tea towel and let rise for another 45 minutes.
Preheat oven to 350F. Using a pastry brush, brush the surface of the bread with the remaining olive oil, trying to get it into the uneven crevices as well. Sprinkle on the remaining herbs. Bake for 55 to 60 minutes. Check often and remove from oven once the top is crispy and the inside is cooked all the way through (the inside temperature should be around 180F). If the top is getting too dark, cover lightly with aluminum foil. Let cool for a minimum of 20 minutes in the pan before removing with the sling. Serve warm.
* You can use any combination of fresh herbs that you like. I used a combination of basil, oregano and parsley, which I think all go well with garlic and parm.