What do you call a cheesy garlic bread that oozes bubbling mozzarella on a deeply toasted crust, greedily soaked up in garlicky butter? A sinful, textural monumental moment in bread history that bears repeating again and again.
This bread made an appearance multiple times this week. In fact, I baked two whole loaves of the bread back-to-back in a day. Why? Because apparently, for the kids, it is what food dreams are made of. How? Because it’s that fast.
I thought my easy everyday bread was the fastest bread I ever baked. But to my delicious shock, the cheesy garlic bread is even quicker – ready in about 2 hours. The first proof takes just 20 minutes instead of the usual hour. And you don’t have to wait for the bread to cool (the longest and most excruciating minutes ever) before you can dig in.
How to make cheesy garlic bread?
The base of this dough is very similar to my everyday bread recipe. However, I tweaked it with a bit of help from the wonderful Merry Booster’s easy cheesy garlic bread and created a whole new playing field in the world of warm, yeasty goodness.
- Start with mixing lukewarm milk, sugar, and yeast. Set it aside for a few minutes till the mixture is frothy. Remember to check if the yeast is active beforehand (I explain how here).
- In a separate bowl, mix salt and all-purpose flour. Make a well in the center, and then add the bubbling yeast along with some olive oil.
- Bring all the ingredients together in a scraggy mass, turn it over on your floured surface and then knead.
- This step is crucial because the motion of your hands develops the gluten structure, which forms pockets of air inside and allows the dough to rise.
Quick tips on kneading dough:
Use this motion for kneading: Begin by pushing the dough away from you, using the heels of your hands. Then fold over half the dough towards you, press down and again push outwards. Turn it sideways and continue with the kneading.
If you get tired: Cover it with a damp napkin, take a 5-minute break and then come back. It takes 8 to 10 minutes of kneading to get a nice, smooth, supple, and elastic dough.
Too dry or wet dough: Add water one tablespoon at a time if the dough feels dry. In case it is too sticky even after kneading, add more flour.
Proof the bread dough
- Place the dough on a Silpat sheet (or baking tray or parchment paper).
- Cover it with an upturned bowl, and then let it rest for 20 minutes.
- Turn it over, punch it down gently, and then knead lightly for a minute.
- Roll it into a shape that fits your baking pan. I used an 8-inch pie pan, so the thickness of my dough was about three-quarters of an inch. You can use a 9- or 10-inch round or rectangle tin. In that case, the loaf would be a bit flatter.
- Grease and flour your pan so that bread doesn’t stick. Place the dough inside and then, with a sharp knife, score squares on it. The slits you make act as pockets for cheese and garlic butter topping.
Garlic butter topping
The magic elixir in this bread is butter dripping with garlic and herbs. It takes the bread from zero to 60 in two seconds flat.
- Mix any herb of your choice in softened butter. My garden is verdant with fresh basil, so I added that along with some chopped thyme.
- Combine it with minced or grated garlic.
- Using a knife or pastry brush, apply it liberally (and I genuinely mean copiously) on top of the dough, and inside the slits you made.
Baking the cheesy garlic bread
- Next, insert the cheese into the gashes and then cover with a damp napkin.
- Let the dough rise once again. Mine was puffy in 20 -25 minutes.
- Finally, bake in a preheated oven for 25 to 30 minutes.
Variation of the recipe
Cheese: You don’t need any fancy cheese here. Use whatever hard cheese is available to you, fresh or packaged. I’ve made the bread a couple of times with mozzarella, cheddar, and a mix of both (as you can see from the final pictures). All of them gave glorious results. My only suggestion is to stick to a cheese that melts nicely.
Flour: Besides all-purpose flour, I very successfully made a loaf with whole wheat flour. And also with a mix of whole wheat and all-purpose. All of these worked beautifully.
Topping: Butter lends the bread a tremendous flavor. It really permeates through every crumb of the loaf. So, I would highly encourage you to use it. But olive oil will work in a pinch. I didn’t, but you can try adding chili flakes to the butter, for a spicy kick.
Herbs: Any herbs, fresh or dried, will work here. Parsley is an excellent option. So are rosemary and fresh oregano. Even cilantro will give you lovely tiny green specs.
Vegan bread: Use any plant-based milk and butter (or sub it with olive oil) along with vegan cheese.
Serving the cheesy garlic bread
You’ll be demolishing the loaf right out of the pan while it is still hot from the oven. The heady aroma of the baking bread makes resistance futile. Soft, fluffy, and incredibly flavorful, the bread beats even a restaurant garlic bread.
Serve it with soups or salads or for brunch or dinner. The cheesy garlic bread will vanish in a matter of minutes. It’s that addictive. But, just in case you have leftovers, they can be reheated in the oven or microwaved.
Cheesy Garlic Bread
- 2 cups / 250 gms All-purpose flour
- 1 tsp Sea salt
- 2 tbsp Olive Oil
- 3/4 cup / 190 ml Milk, lukewarm
- 1.5 tsp Dried active yeast
- 1 tsp Sugar
- 3 tbsp / 40 grams Butter, softened
- 3-4 Garlic cloves, minced
- 2-3 tbsp Basil and Thyme, finely chopped Use any fresh herbs of your choice
- 1/4- 13 cup / 50-75 gms Cheese, cut into strips You can use mozzarella, or a combination of mozzarella and cheddar
- In a small bowl, dissolve yeast and sugar with the milk. Let stand for 5-10 minutes until foamy.
- In a large bowl, mix the flour and salt.
- Make a well in the center and add olive oil and the bubbly yeast mixture.
- Mix well with a fork or your hand till a rough scraggy dough forms.
- Flour your work surface well, turn out the dough on to it. Use the heels of your hands to push the dough away from you, then fold it over halfway, press it down and push it away again. Turn the dough sideways and repeat this process. Keep turning and kneading until the dough is soft, supple and just a tad sticky. This will take about 10-12 minutes.
- Alternatively, you can knead your dough in a stand mixer with the hook attachment for 8-10 minutes.
- Form the dough into a ball and cover with an upturned bowl for 20 minutes.
- Lightly grease and flour your baking pan.
- Knead the dough again for 1 minute. Roll it into a round shape to fit baking pan.
- With a sharp knife, score squares on it. Using a butter knife or pastrybrush, apply the garlic butter liberally on top of the dough,and inside the slits you made.
- Insert the cheese into the gashes and then cover with a damp napkin until the dough is puffy. Mine was ready in 20 minutes.
- Preheat the oven at the highest setting.
- Bake the bread at 180C for 25-30 minutes or until its golden brown on top.
- Let the bread rest for 5 minutes, before serving warm. Enjoy!