1h (plus proving)
Makes 35 pieces
800 g strong bread flour, plus extra for dusting
1 x 7 g sachet of dried yeast
100 g stale breadcrumbs
For the butter:
1 bulb of garlic
500 g unsalted butter, (at room temperature)
1 bunch of fresh flat-leaf parsley, (30g)
1 level teaspoon cayenne pepper
Everyone loves garlic bread, and as you’d expect, this version totally over delivers. Soft, spongy and with the crunchiest backsides you’ve ever seen, as well as being bombed with pungent garlic butter – what’s not to love? One of my favourite ways to eat this is simply with a massive green salad for lunch, but of course the great thing about garlic bread is that it can be a side for many things – chilli, pasta, soup, part of a picnic – you name it.
Put the flour, yeast and 1 teaspoon of sea salt into a large bowl and make a well in the middle. Gradually pour in 550ml of tepid water, continuously stirring and bringing in the flour from the outside as you go to form a rough dough. Transfer to a flour-dusted surface and knead for 10 minutes, or until smooth and springy. Place in a bowl, cover with a damp tea towel and prove in a warm place for 1 hour, or until doubled in size.
Meanwhile, make the butter – this is a big batch, to make good use of your time, and you can freeze the extra for rainy days. Use a garlic crusher to crush the garlic into the softened butter, finely grate over the zest of ½ a lemon, finely chop and add the parsley (stalks and all), the cayenne and a pinch of salt, then mix it all together. Remove one quarter to use in this recipe, then place the rest on a sheet of greaseproof paper, roll it up into a log and twist the ends like a Christmas cracker, then pop into the freezer. After 30 minutes, get the butter out and slice it up to pre-portion, then re-roll and return to the freezer, where it will keep very happily for up to 6 months.
Spread one third of your soft butter portion all around the base and sides of a large metal tray (25cm x 35cm), then scatter in the breadcrumbs and shake around into an even layer so they stick to the butter. Divide up the dough into 35 pieces, then, one-by-one, roll each one into a ball and place in the tray in rows – 5 balls across and 7 balls long is perfect. Bomb over another third of the soft butter, in and around the balls. Leave to prove for another 1 hour 30 minutes, or until doubled in size again.
Preheat the oven to 190ºC/375ºF/gas 5. Sprinkle the balls with a little salt, then bake on the bottom shelf of the oven for 30 minutes, or until lovely and golden. Bomb over that final third of your soft butter and spread it around to give the bread a beautiful shine. Whack the tray in the middle of the table or at the centre of your picnic for sharing, and let everyone tear off their own pieces.