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Garlic bread-scotti

April 19, 2012

Crunchy, garlicky fingers for dipping in sauces
and adding crunch to pasta dishes

As their name suggests, these are a savoury, garlic version of the coffee accompaniments: biscotti. As with their sweet counterpart, these garlic bread-scotti are brilliant for dipping into rich soups and sauces and add a different texture to pasta dishes.

You can make these using a pre-made ciabatta or similar shaped loaf but I like to make my bread myself so this recipe includes instructions for bread as well.

Recipe:

Serves 4 as an accompaniment to a pasta dish

The bread-

250g plain white flour, again a lot of recipes say you need to use strong flour but I find plain works just fine, especially for these double baked beauties
pinch of salt
pinch of caster sugar
1 tsp of fast action dried yeast
a glug of olive oil
150-200ml of warm water

The garlicky bit-

a ramekin or half fill a mug with olive oil
3 tsps finely chopped garlic
dried mixed herbs- fresh ones tend to burn so use dried

Turn on the oven to its lowest setting, mine is 50c, and pop a deep baking tray full of warm water in the bottom of the oven. This will create a warm damp 'rising cupboard' to prove your bread later.. or if you're lucky enough to have an airing cupboard just use that.

Prepare your garlic oil by adding the chopped garlic and dried herbs to the oil and leave to infuse. You can always make more than you need as herby, garlic oil is always useful and won;t go off for ages.

On a large, flat surface pour out your flour, sprinkle on your salt, sugar and yeast the mix in until evenly spread through the flour. Make a pile from your flour then dig a well in the middle of it, pour about a third of the water and all of the oil into the middle of the well, using a fork or your fingers begin to mix some of the flour from the inside of the 'wall' into the liquid. It will begin as a sticky mess but as you gradually mix in more of the flour it will become more like a thick paste. As the paste becomes  stiffer, add the water bit by bit, continue mixing and adding water until all the water is absorbed.

Now you should have a dough, albeit a very sticky dough! Cover your hands with flour and ensure the surface is lightly dusted at all times or its all going to get a bit messy! Knead the dough by pushing it out across the surface then scooping it back and folding it over on itself. As first you will think, oh my god my kitchen table is ruined what is this mental woman talking about, but as you continue to do this the gluten in the flour will develop and the dough will become stretchier, more elastic and importantly, less sticky!

Knead the dough for a good 10-15mins until it is beautifully soft and elastic. Form it into the shape you would like on a well oiled tray, allowing room for expansion. Try and choose a try with really high sides, I'll explain later. You can make any shape you like but for these bread-scotti a long, fat, squat shape is best. Roll it into a baguette shape then pat it down until it's about an inch thick.

Wet a clean tea towel and drape it loosely over the tin, here is where your high sides come in handy, it suspends the towel above the dough so when it expands it doesn't get stuck to the cloth.

Pop this into your make shift 'rising cabinet' or airing cupboard, check back after an hour, the dough should have doubled in size. If it's still looking a little small give it another half an hour.

Once the dough has risen bake it at 180c for 20-30 mins until it is golden brown and sound hollow when you tap it on its bottom.

When the bread it cooked, turn the oven off, turn the bread over in the tin and leave it all to cool down. This will ensure your bread has a nice crispy crust all the way down.. and not a soggy bottom.

When cool take the bread out and turn the oven back on to 160c. 

Once cooled slice the bread into fingers that are about 1/2 inch thick and lay them out, cut side up and down not side to side, on a baking tray. Make sure they all have a nice amount of space and aren't too squashed in or they won't dry out during their second bake.

Using a pastry brush (I have two brushes, one for sweet and one for savoury because no one wants a garlicky jam tart) daub garlic and herb oil onto the cut surface of the bread. Pop the bread into the oven and leave for 15 mins until the top sides of the breads are dried and crisp, turn them oven and daub with more oil, pop them back in for another 15 mins.

With both sides of the bread-scotti dried drizzle over the remaining oil and shake the bread-scotti up into a jumble and pop back in the oven for another 10 mins until beautifully golden and crisp.

Serve the bread-scotti with a soup or saucey pasta so you can dip them and enjoy!




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