Garlic bread is something that the entire world consider Italian (altogether with Penne Vodka), except by Italians: we do not even know what it is… Really, if you came to Italy you know: there is not such thing in our bakery goods, or served in restaurants! Garlic bread is just a WONDERFUL Anglo-Saxon invention, and I am very thankful for it!
When we lived in England we used to pick up a garlic bread at Sainsbury’s or Tesco, on the way to the counter: the delicious smell of the parsley/garlic mixture, combined with the fragrance of the bread where one of the most comforting thing, far from home, from the sun and the hot, in the rain and cold of English summers…
This recipe is originally from one of my cooking bibles: How to be a domestic goddess, by Nigella Lawson. I adapted it a little, add something, made it a bit more mine…
In Italy we can easily find Manitoba, an high-gluten flour that takes his name form the Canadian province of Manitoba. You can substitute it with any high-gluten flour you find at you local suppliers.
For the bread:
250 g of durum wheat flour
350 g of Manitoba flour
12 g of fresh yeast
Extra virgin olive oil
125 g of extra fresh ricotta
Milk, if needed
For the garlic topping
4 heads of garlic (yes, yes, 4 ENTIRE heads of garlic)
Flat leaf parsley
Extra virgin olive oil
Dried flakes of hot chilli pepper
Make the dough for the bread. Melt the fresh yeast in 300 ml of warm water. Let it rest for 15 minutes, then add all the ingredients, except milk. Begin to knead the dough, better with a robot or a kneader, until all the ingredients are combined. If the dough it is too hard add some milk and knead for few more minutes. The more you knead the better it will be.
Cover it with a damp tea towel and let it rise for 2 hours or until it doubled the original volume.
In the meanwhile, prepare the topping.
Pick every clove form the entire heads of garlic, leaving skin on. Place them in a big parchment of foil, close it loosely around them, but be sure it has no holes or openings. Place the bag in a preheated oven (200° C) and cook it for 45-50 minutes.
Place parsley leafs in a food processor, add the garlic cloves (squeezed from their skins) and some oil. Blend until smooth.
Once the dough has doubled its volume, punch it (yes, yes, punch it!) and let it stand for another 30 minutes.
Divide the dough in 4 balls and roll them out in rounded squares. Cover them with a damp tea towel and let it rest for another 2 hours.
Preheat the oven at 220° C.
Brush the breads with the blended garlic mixture, sprinkle with chilli pepper and cook it in the oven for 20-30 minute, or until golden.
Eat warm as a starter, with some ham or salame, or on its own.
At this point your home will wonderfully smell garlic!!! For ever!!!