A little while ago, in a fit of misplaced creativity I tried making a kind of Eastern/Thai-inspired bread. It was quite late in the evening on a work night and I couldn’t be bothered to wait for a yeast dough to rise, so I decided to make a soda-bread. We had some coconut, left over from my first attempt at coconut meringues (later renamed Zebra Meringues), which I added to the dough along with other ingredients like garlic and chilli. The end result was horrible – I think the baking soda and the garlic may have had a bad chemical reaction with each other, rendering my yummy-looking loaf inedible. However, the idea of using garlic as a star ingredient in bread stuck with me and a few weeks later I tried making these – roast garlic break sticks – and they were highly edible. Success – in a crunchy, tasty form! As usual, the ‘cup’ ingredients below were measured using a 250 ml mug as equal to 1 cup (perhaps I should rename this blog the 250 ml brown glass mug blog…). Don’t let the long list of instructions scare you – these are no harder to make than any other basic bread.
What you’ll need:
1 garlic bulb
2 1/2 cups plain flour
A 7 gram package of fast-action yeast
Pinch salt, plus a bit more for sprinkling on top of the bread sticks
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus a little more for greasing the pans and brushing the bread sticks with
1 cup lukewarm water
Optional – pepper and/or dried herbs to sprinkle on top of the bread sticks
What to do:
1. Put the garlic bulb in a small pan (it doesn’t have to be as small as the one I used…), drizzle it with olive oil and roast for about 40 minutes to an hour (I did this at about gas mark 5, which is 190º C or 375º F).
2. Take the garlic bulb out the oven, which you can turn off for a bit, when it is done and leave to one side for now.
3. Sift the flour and salt into a large bowl, add the yeast and mix together thoroughly.
4. Cut the top of the garlic bulb and squeeze all the garlicky goodness into the bowl with the flour and yeast, then mix it in as well as you can.
5. Add the oil and water to the bowl and mix together thoroughly with a wooden spoon.
6. Tip the dough onto a clean, lightly floured surface and knead well for five to ten minutes.
7. Put the dough back into the bowl, cover the bowl with a damp tea towel (or cling film) and leave somewhere warm for 45 to 60 minutes to rise to about double its original volume.
8. When the dough has risen, tip it on to a clean, lightly floured surface and knead again for five to ten minutes.
9. Divide the dough into 15 to 20 equal portions (I went with 12 portions to start with but ended up with bread sticks that were too long for my pans – you can just play around until they look about right and approximately fit whatever baking trays you will be using) and then roll each one into a long, thin sausage shape. Brush the baking trays you will be using (ideally rectangular ones) with olive oil and then lay the dough sausages side by side on the trays, leaving at least 2-3 cm between each one. Brush each dough sausage with more olive oil and sprinkle them with salt and, if you like, pepper and/or dried herbs.
10. Cover the dough with a damp tea towel again (or lightly cover them with cling film) and leave somewhere warm again for 45 to 60 minutes to rise.
11. Just before the dough has finished rising, pre-heat the oven to gas mark 5 (190º C or 375º F). When the dough has finished rising a second time, remove the tea towel (or cling film) and bake for about 20 minutes, or until golden brown, in the middle of the pre-heated oven.
12. When done, remove from the oven and cool on a cooling rack before devouring with whatever tasty dips you have to hand. If you (like me) can’t wait that long, you might find they are a little bit soft in the middle whilst hot. Don’t let that worry you – they should firm up as they cool.