I think we all see the delicious words "garlic bread," and we convince ourselves that it is way too hard to make our own garlic bread (unless we use garlic salt and we all know that doesn't taste as good as fresh garlic) and now that we've seen the words, our taste buds won't accept anything less. I can't blame them. There is one problem with that statement, however. It's not hard at all!
The hardest part is making it home with an entire loaf of french bread. (I can't put the loaf anywhere close to me because I will start eating it. Always have. In fact, I am fairly sure when I was little, my parents would buy a loaf and most of it was gone by the time we got home 7 or 8 minutes later. No, I wouldn't eat it by myself. We all shared. Maybe that was why my parents always bought two loaves: one to eat in the car and one to eat with whatever meal mom had planned. Good idea, Parents.)
So today I want to talk about two different ways to make garlic bread. My goal was to find a way to take the delicious and classic way I know and mix it with a quick way. I am going to teach you the classic way first, the quicker way second, and the compromise. Unfortunately, the compromise is sans photos. (How much bread do you people think I can eat?!?) I think you'll get the point though.
Let's get started. First thing to do is get a regular loaf of French bread and cut it in half. This makes it easier to make a cut through the bread so you can put the garlic butter on it because you can rest the bread on the newly cut flat side and slice down towards the cutting board.
Now that you have your French bread cut and ready, we can start the garlic paste. I used one garlic clove for half of the bread. Mince it very fine.
Once you have it minced, lightly cover the garlic with salt. (Kosher salt is best, but table salt will work.)
Now comes the fun part. You are going to make a paste. This happens by holding your knife normally with your dominant hand and holding the spine of your blade with the other hand. You are going to use the side of your blade to smash and rub the salt into the garlic. (I know this make so much sense. I was really good about taking pictures of this part, can you tell? Stay with me.) The point of this step is twofold. You want to use the salt bread down the garlic. The salt will bring out the moisture in the garlic to help make a paste, and the friction will break down the minced pieces into a paste. The salt also helps bring out the flavor. (If you are still super confused, I am sure there is a video out there somewhere.)
Now you are going to put the garlic paste into a small microwave safe bowl. (I like microwaving the garlic with the butter to help bring out the flavors. You can use just a little and it is still super flavorful.)
Next, add half the butter you want to use and microwave it until half of that is melted. Stir in the unmelted part until it is all melted. This is when you add the half you set aside and stir like crazy. (I only used a couple of tablespoons of butter and it covered half of the French bread.)
As you stir, you will see that it emulsifies. You don't see the melted portion, and it looks so pretty. Bonus: It's easy to spread. Also, I should tell you that I used unsalted butter so adding the paste didn't make everything too salty. (You can taste it at this point and add a little salt, if you need it.)
When you spread it onto the bread, you just want a thin layer. It's just to add a little flavor. (We should tell grocery store bakeries this...) I added parsley to the top. You don't have to, but it's pretty.
Okay, this is the point where you bake it. Most of the people I know will wrap it in tin foil and bake it until it's perfect. I am not that patient. I put it on a baking sheet and baking it at 450 degrees for a couple of minutes. You just can't forget it or it dries out super fast.
Now we are going to look at the quicker way.
Use a microplane to mince the garlic.
Put it right into the microwave safe bowl. Add a little bit of salt.
Next, add half the butter you want to use and microwave it until half of that is melted. Stir in the unmelted part until it is all melted. This is when you add the remaining half and stir like crazy. (This process is genius. Don't change that part, you'll regret it.
You still want to spread it in a thin layer - you won't need more than that. Trust me. Just make sure you go edge to edge.
Okay, now I can tell you about the taste test. I had my husband tell me what he thought of each kind. It was great because he didn't know what the difference would be. (I did. So I was a little biased.) Luckily, he agreed! The second process, though quicker, doesn't give you the garlic flavor of the first process. You can still taste it, but it's just not as good.
So what about those times you don't want your hands smelling like garlic and you want to save a little time? Is there a way to get the flavor in less time?
Thanks for asking. Why, yes there is. When you mince the garlic with the microplane, don't put it directly into the bowl you want to use. Put it onto a cutting board. Sprinkle it with salt and use that to make your paste like the first way. It saves a couple of minutes of mincing garlic by hand and it is SO MUCH better than if you buy the garlic bread at the store. (Even if you scrape off a bunch of that stuff they put on it.)
One final tip for today. If you don't want to be the only one smelling like garlic, you have to share. Sorry.