Courtesy of The Cast Iron Baking Book by Dominique DeVito (Cider Mill Press, 2016)
Nothing beats the smell and taste of freshly baked bread, except maybe the smell and taste of freshly baked garlic bread. Whether you prefer to eat it fresh out of the oven or toast it and top with a thin smear of pesto, you can’t go wrong with this recipe as your base.
Published: August 2, 2016
Preheat oven to 375°F.
Take as much skin off garlic head as possible without separating cloves. With a sharp knife, cut off top of head to expose cloves in their sleeves. Put garlic, cut side up, on a piece of heavy duty aluminum foil. Pour olive oil over the top of the head of garlic. Wrap the aluminum around the garlic and crimp shut. Roast for 50-60 minutes.
Open the foil and allow the garlic to cool enough to handle. Squeeze bottom of head so cloves pop out. Put them on a plate and set aside. Save cooking oil.
Put the yeast and sugar in a cup and drizzle in ½ cup lukewarm water. Hot water will kill the yeast, so it’s important that the water be warm without being hot. Cover measuring cup with plastic wrap and set aside for about 15 minutes until it begins to foam (your plastic wrap will start to bulge). If yeast doesn’t foam, it may be dead and you’ll need to buy a fresh packet.
Pour mixture into a large bowl and add additional cup of lukewarm water. Stir gently to combine. Use a wooden spoon to stir in salt and flour and form wet, sticky dough.
Dust a flat surface with flour and place the dough on it. Flour hands and knead dough, incorporating roasted garlic cloves, just until smooth. Be careful not to over-knead.
Lightly grease large bowl with some reserved garlic-infused oil, and place the dough in it. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and allow to rise, untouched, for at least one to two hours. Gently punch dough down, re-cover with plastic, and allow to rise for another 30 minutes. Brush the surface with more garlic-infused oil.
While dough is on its final rise, set oven to 450°F. Line Dutch oven with parchment, cover with lid, and place in the oven to heat. When oven is ready and dough’s final rise is complete, use pot holders to remove lid of Dutch oven, place the dough inside, and put the lid back on.
Bake with lid on for 15 minutes. Remove lid and bake for another 15–20 minutes until the top is golden and the bread sounds hollow when tapped.
Remove pot from the oven and carefully remove hot bread. Allow to cool before slicing. Makes 1 small round.
Bonus: Add ¼ cup fresh rosemary during the kneading process to complement the garlic and add another layer of flavor.