Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Baker's Corner: Easy Cheesy Garlic Bread


Saturday breakfasts/brunches at my place often features an egg-based main dish like a cheese and mushroom omelette, mixed vegetable frittata, shakshuka, quiche or eggs benedict. I always rustle up some oven-roasted herbed potatoes, grill whatever bread I have on hand and prepare a fruit platter to go along with it. It makes for a colorful, delicious and hearty weekend meal which we all love and look forward to eating.


A few weeks ago, I made some homemade cheesy garlic bread to go with my signature shakshuka. My kids absolutely love the garlic bread from Pizza Hut so I had been thinking about making it at home. To save time, you can buy store-bought bread, dress it up and pop it in the oven or else, if you have some time, you can make from scratch.

Unfortunately at the time, I had only parmesan and cheddar cheese in my refrigerator and no mozzarella. With the coronavirus pandemic, we were experiencing a bit of a slump in the supply of dairy products and speciality flour both at physical supermarkets and while placing online orders so getting my hands on the ingredients I wanted for savoury bakes was proving quite the challenge. Despite the absence of an important ingredient, the cheesy garlic bread turned out really good and my family loved it. I really wanted to make it again with mozzarella cheese, obviously, because it melts so much better and forms that lovely oozy cheesy layer on top. Anyway, I did eventually get mozzarella cheese at the supermarket but by then, I had run out of bread flour and that was out of stock everywhere I checked so I had to wait a few more weeks! Finally, when I had both the cheese and the flour that I needed, I made the cheesy garlic bread again and just as I had expected, it turned out even better and the whole things was polished off in minutes! This homemade cheesy garlic bread is going to feature commonly in our weekend menu henceforth 😊


This is a very easy recipe that comes together fairly quickly (aside from the time needed for the dough to rise). You just need a few ingredients and you can come up with bread that is warm, soft, chewy, garlicky, cheesy, herby.....basically all kinds of yummy! Be sure to scroll down to the notes section for additional tips and substitutions.

Try it and you won't be disappointed. I promise 😊

Cheesy Garlic Bread

Prep time: 1 hr 30 mins; Cook time: 15 mins
Total time: 1 hr 45 mins
Makes: 12 rectangles (serves: 4-5)
Recipe category: Snack/Western
Recipe level: Easy
Recipe source: Adapted from here

Ingredients:

For the dough:
3/4 cup warm milk 
2 tsp sugar 
2 tsp active dry or instant yeast 
1 tbsp olive oil 
2 cups bread flour 
1 tsp salt 
2 tbsp semolina or cornmeal

Toppings:

To mix together:
2 tbsp unsalted butter 
a pinch of salt (you can skip the salt if you are using salted butter)
3 cloves fresh garlic, finely chopped
1/2 tsp garlic powder, Optional but recommended
1/2 tsp oregano/dried Italian herbs 

2 tbsp grated Parmesan cheese + more for final garnish
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1 small bunch fresh flat-leaf Italian parsley, finely chopped, Optional
Dried red chilli flakes, Optional


Method:

1. Mix the yeast and sugar. Add warm milk, mix until dissolved and keep aside for 5-10 minutes. You should see that the mixture develops a layer of foam on top.


2. While the yeast is proofing, combine 2 cups of the bread flour and the salt in a large bowl. Stir to combine.


3. Pour the yeast mixture and olive oil into the bowl with the flour and salt. Mix until well combined.


4. Turn the dough out onto a clean surface that is lightly dusted with flour. Knead the dough using the stretch and fold technique for at least 5-8 minutes until it is smooth and no longer sticky. Return the ball of dough to the mixing bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let sit at least for one hour or until double in size.



5. Preheat the oven to 180ÂșC (375ÂșF). Prepare a baking tray by sprinkling a liberal amount of semolina or cornmeal over the surface (about 2 Tbsp). Punch down the risen dough, roll it out into a rectangle on a lightly floured surface and then stretch it over the baking tray, leaving the dough about 1/4-1/2 inch thick.


6. Place the butter in a small dish and microwave for 30 seconds or until the butter is melted. Add in the finely chopped fresh garlic, garlic powder, pinch of salt (if the butter you are using is unsalted) and dried Italian herbs. Brush the butter-garlic-herb mixture over the surface of the dough. Sprinkle the grated Parmesan over the butter and garlic. Finally, add the shredded mozzarella cheese in an even layer over everything.





7. Bake the bread for about 15-20 minutes in the preheated oven, or until the cheese is melted and is just beginning to turn golden brown on the edges. Once baked, slice the cheesy garlic bread down the center lengthwise, then across into twelve strips, about 1-inch wide.


8. Scatter the finely chopped parsley (mainly for color), red chilli flakes and more parmesan shavings (if desired). Serve with your dip of choice. I mixed equal quantities of a tomato-based pizza sauce with my favourite brand of chilli garlic sauce.


Notes:
  • The milk that you add to the yeast should be just warm and not hot!
  • You can use plain/all-purpose flour instead of bread flour. Breads made with all-purpose flour may have a little less chew than those made with bread flour, but results will still be good
  • You can use any dried or fresh herb you like or even a combination of the two - thyme, rosemary, oregano, basil and parsley all work well
  • Adding fresh mozzarella cheese is also a great option in this recipe. You can also use cheddar, Monterey Jack, Pepper Jack or a Mexican blend. I recommend that you don't skip the Parmesan because it gives great flavour
  • You can sprinkle some dried red chilli flakes on top of the bread if you wish. I didn't because my kids prefer it without the red chilli flakes

Cheers,
Megha


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