Binging with Babish: Garlic Bread from Scott Pilgrim vs The WorldMay 31, 2021
- Actually, it's a very good
breadis my favorite food. Honestly, I could eat it with every meal or just eat it all the time without even stopping. (laughs) - You would gain weight. No. Why would I gain weight? - Bread makes you fat. - Does bread make you fat? - Hey, what's up guys? Welcome back to Binging with Babish. For this week we're taking a look at Scott Pilgrim vs the
garlicbread, a concept that, like last week, I know is a bit of a stretch, but I made a lot of pizza for this Thursday's basics.
So I needed appropriate accompaniments. To start, we'll use this frozen garlic bread as a sort of control group. This is what I grew up eating on spaghetti and meatballs nights. So once prepared, according to the package instructions, it seems like a good place to start and, right away, there are some obvious ways we can improve. First of all, there is no fresh garlic and perhaps, equally worrying, instead of real butter, there is margarine. That being said, it's still garlic and butter flavored toast. So it tastes very good. Or maybe it's just my nostalgia talking. Either way, we still have a lot of room for improvement, starting with fresh bread.
The obvious direction to go is with standard supermarket Italian bread. Personally, I like sesame seeds for their added texture and flavor. And once our bread is vivisected, it's time to spread it with compound butter. This is a stick of slightly softened unsalted butter in which we are going to crush three cloves of garlic. Basically, the more you smash the garlic, the more garlic flavor you'll get, which is why I opt for the garlic press. Next, some freshly chopped herbs, about two tablespoons each. Finally, chopped basil and parsley, adding much-needed dimension to our garlic bread. Then we generously salt kosher and freshly ground pepper and grind it into a cohesive paste.
Also known as compound butter, which I personally think you should have in the refrigerator at all times, right next to your ketchup and leftover bell taco sauce packets. The next step is, of course, to spread it generously and evenly on our bread. From there, you have two options. To bake, you can sandwich it and wrap it in aluminum foil, baking it at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for about 20 minutes, which will give it a crispy exterior and soft interior, but leave the garlic raw. Personally, I prefer to bake open-faced at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for seven or eight minutes until the bread is crispy and the small pieces of garlic begin to turn slightly blonde at the edges.
And there you have it, some easy homemade carb bombs with garlic, butter, herbs, crunchy and soft, perfect to serve with pizza or pasta or any other food that is just bread in a different shape. How can we improve this seemingly perfect side dish? Well, America's Test Kitchen has a pretty innovative way to maximize garlic flavor and toast bread evenly. They start by microplaning the garlic in four tablespoons of melted butter. This breaks down more cell walls, creating more garlic flavor, which is then microwaved for 30 seconds to soften it again. Then, to bring in some of the flavors of long-roasted garlic, they combine a teaspoon each of garlic powder and water, which apparently activates the garlic flavor in the garlic powder.
Add the microwaved butter and fresh garlic mixture, along with a teaspoon of salt, a quarter teaspoon of cayenne pepper, and four more tablespoons of cold butter from the refrigerator, which will thicken this butter mixture back into a spreadable paste. A simple dip with your fingers confirms that it is delicious and extraordinarily tasty. This is spread on our halved Italian breads by placing a channel in the center of the bread and then using an offset spatula to spread it evenly and prolifically, before placing it on a rimmed baking sheet and baking at 450 degrees Fahrenheit for about four minutes.
And this is where true innovation begins. First we need to flip our loaves and then compress them slightly with another baking sheet, which we will leave there while it returns to the oven for another five to 10 minutes. This will ensure that the cut side of the bread is evenly exposed to the heat. It toasts both the bread and the nice doughy garlic beautifully. Now I'm sure you'll agree that this is a beautiful and unique loaf of garlic bread, kind of like the Dan Levy of garlic bread. It's unconventional, it's clean and crispy and I just want to eat it.
But unlike Dan Levy, I actually found this to be too garlicky and I think there is a bread that will respond better to this pressed toasting method, a bread that loves to be pressed and toasted, the Cuban Bread. In the bowl, the mixer places 480 grams of bread flour, one packet or seven grams of instant yeast, two teaspoons or about eight grams of sugar, and a small whisk to combine. And then Cuban Bread's unique claim to fame: 55 grams of melted lard, along with 300 milliliters of room temperature water. We'll add it gradually as the dough comes together, adding 12 grams of kosher salt, once a ball of dough forms and kneading on medium speed for about 10 minutes or until a firm but flexible dough forms, which we're doing.
I'll take it off the dough hook, shape it into a ball, and drop it into a greased bowl for an hour and a half to let it ferment for the first time. Cover it tightly with plastic wrap and let it rest at room temperature until it doubles in size. Once duplicated, it's time to give it its final shape. It is a long torpedo-shaped loaf that we are going to place on a well-floured work surface. Recover the dough, place it on said work surface and begin to pat it until it forms a large rectangle. Our goal is about, I don't know, eight by 12 inches.
And then, as is the procedure with most enriched doughs, we're going to start rolling it from the bottom, pinching as we go. Pressing as we go to make sure there are no bubbles and pinching the seam underneath results in a loaf, which, my goodness, doesn't look safe to work in there. We'll simply pat it into a torpedo shape and then place it diagonally on a rimmed baking sheet dusted with cornmeal, which will prevent it from sticking and add a nice crispy bottom to our final loaf. Then we will cover it with generously greased plastic wrap and let it rest at room temperature for another hour until it approximately doubles in size.
Then we preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit because this guy is ready to bake. The only thing left to do is mark it lengthwise at the top. Apparently this is traditionally done with a palm leaf, but I didn't have one of those on hand. And then we bake for 20 to 25 minutes until lightly browned and its thickest point registers about 200 degrees Fahrenheit. And we let it cool completely for about three hours before cutting it and turning it into garlic bread. As you can see, this bread has a nice texture, firm but still airy, which thanks to the butter toasts beautifully.
I felt a little overwhelmed by the microplane garlic, so I headed back to the garlic press, cut my bread in half, and tried two different buttering methods. I'm worried about the herbs burning, so I'm going to spread one half with plain old garlic butter, which I'll then sprinkle with fresh herbs when I'm done, and the other, adding my fresh herbs to the butter before. I start to smear myself. Both are put in the same oven at 450 degrees Fahrenheit for four minutes before being flipped and weighed, which is great not only because it toasts the bread evenly but also prevents the garlic from burning and becoming pungent in the oven.
So no matter how you prepare the garlic and what type of bread you use, I can't recommend this method enough. About six minutes later they came out of the oven looking almost perfect. We got our herb bread from the back and from the front we got our simple garlic bread which I'm going to sprinkle fresh herbs on before cutting and serving. Now, the first thing we're going to cover is the bread. I love Cuban Bread because of the garlic bread. The inside is soft, moist and buttery and the outside is crispy and almost crumbly in the most unexpected and pleasant way.
Next the herbs. The herbs in the compound butter version didn't burn, but their flavors were definitely muted and muted by the heat of the oven. The fresh herb version, especially once finished, with some flaky Maldon salt, was the clear winner. Pressing the garlic, rather than microplanning it, made the flavor much less harsh and overpowering. And the addition of fresh basil and parsley added some much-needed herbal contrast. This was the Dan Levy of garlic bread. I'm not entirely sure why I use it as a metric for garlic bread. Maybe because I can't get enough of them. (upbeat music)
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