I've always loved garlic but recently I cannot get enough of it. One of my favourite types of garlic bread is the share and tear kind, it's lumpy surface means you get some spots that are lovely, toasted and crispy and some bits that are all soggy and buttery.
3 cups of flour (I used all purpose)
a pinch of salt
a pinch of sugar
1 and a half sticks of butter (1 for the garlic filling, half for the bread dough)
warm water- the amount will depend on the flour/weather/day of the week so have a jug with a couple of cups ready
1 package of active yeast
drizzle of olive oil
a lot of garlic
Sift the flour into a large bowl or onto a large clean surface. Sprinkle over the salt, sugar and yeast then mix everything together. Scoop the dry ingredients together into a mound then create a hollow in the middle. Pour about a cup of warm water into the flour mound then used a clawed hand (think Jim Carey in 'Liar Liar') to mix the flour of the inner walls of the flour heap into the water. Keep adding water until you get a dough- the dough needs to be wetter than you would initially think. The kneading process develops the gluten in the dough which make it less sticky, so add as much water as you can without it turning into paste.
Knead the dough well for a good 10 minutes, then plop into a large bowl. Drizzle a little olive oil over the surface of the bread to stop it from drying out or sticking. Cover the bowl with cling film then place in a warm spot to rise. I don't have anywhere warm in my flat (yup, still no airing cupboard) our heating is one those hot air fan systems so when it's on it creates a dry heat which isn't fab for bread purposes. I Put the oven on it's lowest temperature- about 150F with a pan of water on the top shelf, then wrap my (non plastic) bowl in a wet tea towel (dishcloth)- this stops the heat being too 'harsh'.
Leave the dough to rise for about 45 minutes, it should have doubled in size by then. In the mean time, make your garlic butter.
If your butter is hard from the fridge, rip it into chunks and pop in the microwave for 10 second to soften, but not melt, it. Finely mince 6 or 7 large cloves of garlic- I like it very garlicky, add this to the butter and mix well. If you are so inclined you can also add herbs, rosemary or dried basil are nice, oregano is very traditional but I find it a bit bitter when not in a sauce.
When your dough has risen, flop it out on to a floured surface and roll out to about half and inch thickness, keeping the dough in a rough square shape. Spread the butter evenly over the surface then roll up the dough like a big swiss roll. Cut the roll lengthways almost to the end but leaving the roll connected by about half and inch, so you end up with two long sausages which each have a cut edge that you can see layers of dough and butter in- it's basically a big garlic momerath. Taking hold of the two cut end of the sausages, twist them over each other until the entire thing is a giant Twizzler. Then roll the twist around on itself like a flat pinwheel, tucking the outer end under the, now round, finished bread.
Plop the bread into a greased pan, drizzle with a little more olive oil then repeat the rising process again. You might be best served putting the bread pan into a large bowl or dish and covering that, if the dough doesn't have far to rise before it become proud of the pan's edges you may find it sticks to the cling film- which, when removed, could tear the dough and loose some of the air the rising process gains.
Once the Dough has had another half and hours rise, bake it in a pre-heated oven at 380F for about 40 mins, until it is golden on top.
To check the bread is cooked, it should drop out of the pan when upturned, tap the bottom and it is sound hollow- rather than thuddy and dull, it is done!
Serve up with spaghetti and meatballs in a lovely homemade roasted red pepper and tomato, basil sauce!
TIP: If you don't finish up all the bread before it goes a bit stale (what is wrong with you!?) don't bin it. Chop it up in to small bits, crush into bread crumbs and freeze. They can be used for so many bits and bobs- I'll come back to this!