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Garlic bread

Warm garlic bread is such a treat. The trick is keeping the inside soft while getting the outside crispy and crunchy.

You could make the loaf of bread from scratch for this, but honestly it’s not worth it unless you really have a ton of time on your hands; store-bought French or Italian bread works great, even day-old bread that your neighborhood grocery store is selling at a discount.

Serves 6-8 people. Preparation time: 25 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1 loaf French or Italian bread
  • 1/2 cup butter or margarine (1 stick)
  • 1/8 to 1/4 cup garlic powder, to taste
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt

Preheat the oven to 250 degrees. Place an oven rack in the middle position.

Allow the butter or margarine to come up to room temperature to soften. If it’s still too stiff to stir with a spoon, microwave it for 10 seconds at a time until it has softened. You want it to be a thick spread, not liquid.

In a bowl, stir together the butter, garlic powder, and salt until well mixed.

Cut the loaf of bread horizontally and lengthwise. Flip the top half over so that both halves’ crusts are facing down.

Spread the butter/garlic/salt mix evenly onto the top of each half of the loaf. It won’t soak in — yet.

Flip the top half back on top of the bottom half. Wrap in aluminum foil (just one layer). Place the loaf on a half-sheet baking pan and insert it into the oven.

Bake for 15 minutes at 250 degrees. This melts the butter and warms the bread without overbaking it.

Remove the bread from the oven. Switch the oven to high broil. Unwrap the bread and flip the top half over, placing it next to the bottom half on the pan.

Return the bread to the oven. Broil until the bread browns (but doesn’t burn), about 2 minutes. Watch it very carefully, when broiling things can go from uncooked to browned to burned very quickly. Check at least once a minute.

Remove the bread from the oven. Let cool for 5 minutes, then cut into slices and serve warm.

Tips and suggestions:

  • You can mix all sorts of things into the butter to add flavor. Grated parmesan cheese (or pretty much any kind of cheese). Italian herbs such as oregano or thyme. Smoked paprika.
  • Vary the amount of garlic to your heart’s content. That’s the benefit of making your own: you get to control how garlicky it is. We won’t judge you (though we may not stand too close to you, either).
  • You could use fresh, mined garlic instead of garlic powder, but the garlic powder distributes more easily — and garlic powder keeps for a long time so you can easily turn a loaf of bread (or a leftover half-loaf) into garlic bread without a lot of pre-planning.