Pleasing a Crowd

December 28, 2014

Great Garlic Bread

A fragrant loaf of garlic bread is the best way I know to please a crowd.  While it bakes it perfumes the neighborhood, broadcasting such deeply nostalgic signals that it can send the staidest  grownup straight back to childhood.

It is both easier and harder to make a great loaf of garlic bread than it once was. Easier because these days it is far easier to find a great loaf of bread to begin with, And harder because the influx of cheap, imported garlic has made finding good garlic increasingly difficult. 

You don’t want old garlic because as it gets nasty and bitter when it sprouts.  You know the terrible taste I’m talking about.  If you can’t get your hands on good garlic, the only remedy is to go through your garlic, clove by clove, removing the bitter green sprouts.  It’s painstaking work, but it’s worth it.   

There are three other tricks to making great garlic bread.


  1. Use a lot of garlic.
  2. Melt the butter – don’t just soften it – and brush it liberally across the bread.  When you think you’ve used enough, use more.
  3. Bake it twice. Once to get the bread warm and completely infused with the garlic butter.  And again, to get a crisp, golden, crunchy top. 


Begin by buying a good loaf of sturdy French or Italian bread. Cut it in half, lengthwise (a serrated knife helps).  

 Melt a stick of sweet butter. Add one entire head of garlic that you’ve peeled and finely chopped.  (For an easy way to peel garlic, drop the cloves into a pan of boiling water for 10 seconds, which will loosen the skins.)

 Slather the garlic butter onto the bread with a brush.  Let it soak in. Use it all. 

 Place the loaf, cut sides up, in a 350 degree oven.  Bake for 15 minutes.

Turn the heat up to broil and broil for about 2 minutes, watching carefully to make sure it doesn’t burn. 


Optional additions.

Chopped parsley or chives will give your garlic bread a lovely spring-like look. Use about 2 tablespoons.  I also like to add the zest of one lemon, right before broiling. But my favorite addition is a quarter cup of freshly grated parmesan cheese, added just before it goes under the broiler, which makes this truly, decadently, delicious.  


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  • Jo Procter says:

    Your journal is a wonderful to-read now present. You have my 2014 thanks and that I look forward to more in 2015. I especially appreciate your sharing your recipes. Two possibilities? for your take on or information about: “River Cottage Veg” cookbook and the chance of you getting your hands on and sharing Nora Ephron’s cookbook that it was report she sent to her friends before her death. Thanks.

  • m. Greg says:

    Yummmm…. yummm…. thanks for this, Ruth; your garlic bread brings out sensory pleasures and comfort.

  • Lynn McBride says:

    Sometimes the simplest dishes are hard to get right. I’ve made this many times but it never seemed as good as it could be. Now I know the secrets–don’t hold back! Many thanks for the recipe.
    Lynn at Southern Fried French

  • Good quality garlic is getting hard to find. Most of the supermarkets near us in the UK only offer forced, garlic which is often bitter before it sprouts, let alone afterwards.