I was tempted to title this post “F***ing fantastic garlic bread”, because when people taste it, they tend to say something along the lines of: “Cripes. This is f***ing fantastic garlic bread.” But my Mum reads this blog and has a habit of looking horrified and exclaiming: “Elizabeth!” if I so much as say “Damn” in her presence, so plain old “Garlic bread” it’ll have to be. Sorry, Mum.
I wooed a boyfriend with this stuff once (and swiftly thereafter wished I hadn’t, but that’s by the bye). It’s powerfully good; you won’t go back to shop-bought garlic bread once you’ve tried it. The trick here is to simmer the garlic in the butter to sweeten it up and release its aroma before you let it anywhere near the bread, alongside the judicious application of some herbs. Use whatever loaf you fancy here. Something reasonably open-textured to soak up all that butter is a good move. This recipe will make sufficient garlic butter to anoint a whole baguette, but you can make a smaller loaf and keep any leftover butter in the fridge for up to a week. There were just two of us eating when I made this, so I used a ciabatta and steeled myself for leftovers – if you put the remains back together into something that resembles a cut-down loaf, rewrap it in the tin foil and refrigerate, you can take the recipe from the point where you put it in the oven again the next day.
2 large, juicy heads garlic
15g fresh chives
15g fresh flat-leaf parsley
15g fresh oregano
½ teaspoon salt
Several turns of the peppermill
Peel the garlic, and use a knife to mince it until you have a heap of garlicky rubble in the middle of your chopping board.
Melt the butter in a small saucepan over a very low heat, and spoon the garlic into it. Allow the garlic to cook very gently in the butter for about ten minutes, until it is soft and fragrant. While the garlic is cooking, chop the herbs and put them with the salt and pepper in a bowl.
Pour the hot butter and garlic mixture over the herbs in the bowl, and stir well to combine everything. Leave at room temperature for ten minutes, then cover with cling film and move to the fridge. Refrigerate until solid. (The butter doesn’t need to be rock-hard – a couple of hours should be sufficient.)
When the butter is stiff enough to spread, warm the oven to 150ºC (300ºF).
Slice the bread and spread each side of each slice generously with the garlic butter. Reassemble the loaf, and wrap it tightly in tin foil. Bake on a metal tray for 20 minutes, and remove from the oven. Unwrap and serve piping hot. You will be unable to avoid getting garlic butter all over your chin as you eat, and possibly on your elbows, so have napkins standing by.