Garlic Bread

Tuesday, 23 February 2010

I've finally found a rustic baguette, or baguette à l'ancienne, in Singapore. Compared to the regular loaf, the rustic, traditional version is given a much longer fermentation. This gives the crust a darker colour and a rich, nutty aroma. It also makes the crumb – the white part of the bread – soft, chewy and really flavourful

When I was living in Paris, I used to stroll to Champs-Elysées most Sundays – took me all of five minutes – and grab a baguette a l'ancienne for breakfast. Most bakeries in central Paris were closed on Sundays but the really touristy areas had the odd one open.

The bakery I went to was Chez Paul, which was obliquely across the road from the gigantic Louis Vuitton mothership (which also sells baguettes, though not the edible type). Some of my French friends sniffed at Chez Paul scornfully. I guess the bakery and bistro chain had no snob value since it was anything but exclusive. But I quite liked it, and was their regular customer not just in Paris but also in London. Besides the baguette, I was very fond of their salade de carottes râpées, a humongous salad with carrots, green apples, roast chicken, raisins and walnuts. Note to self: time to recreate Chez Paul's grated carrot salad?

A freshly baked baguette with lots of homemade jam, good butter and a big pot of tea makes for a charming breakfast. Tartine's the French equivalent of kaya toast, isn't it? But what if it's too late for breakie after buying the bread? French loaves are best eaten the day they're bought because they dry out very quickly. In fact, French bakeries make baguettes twice a day, in the morning and early afternoon, to make sure customers get super duper fresh bread for both lunch and dinner. Sigh . . . . The French have bread to die for, in addition to tonnes of holidays, no retrenchment, a sexy language, one shower once a year or so . . . . If there's reincarnation, I want to be French in my next life, ok? But please don't make me a baker 'cause running a bakery is really hard work . . . unless I'm the big boss with shops and workers spread across the country continent world!

Ok, back to eating bread. Freshly baked baguette au naturel with wads of good butter is quite delightful. Want something better? How about slices of French loaf that are soaked with garlic butter, crispy and crunchy outside, and soft and chewy inside? Turning delight into sublime takes just a few minutes. When the bread emerges from the oven, the golden hues are a feast for your eyes. Even before you take a bite, wafts of fragrance from the mix of garlic and butter surrounds your senses. Mmmmm . . . . Seriously, I could eat just garlic bread and nothing else as a meal. And I bet I'm not the only one. I've never met anybody who doesn't like garlic bread . . . . Not counting Count Dracula, that is. But I've never really met the count, so he doesn't count . . . ?

(Makes 12 pieces)

1 French loaf
6 tbsp unsalted butter
3 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 tsp finely chopped parsley

Preheat oven to 220°C (425°F). Cut French loaf lengthwise into 2 halves. Cut each half crosswise into 6 pieces. Melt butter in a pan over low heat. Add garlic and stir. Do not brown butter or garlic. When garlic is fragrant, turn off heat. Add parsley and mix well. Spoon garlic butter evenly on cut side of bread. Place bread on a baking tray, cut side up and spaced out. Bake in top of oven till lightly golden and crust is crisp. Serve immediately.


dillon said...

That sounds too good. But where is this bakery? In need to find good rustic style bread in Singapore.

KT said...

Hi Dillon

Which bakery? Can't tell you 'cause the bakery's not paying me to advertise . . . . Just kidding. It's Cedele Depot. You can get a list of their outlets on their website:

Hope you like it as well but it's probably not as good as the bread you bake! ;-)

BTW, Cedele Depot has other types of rustic style bread besides the baguette. Info's on their website as well.

dillon said...

Thanks alot for the info KT.
I'll be in Singapore in 3 weeks visiting a good friend and we're having a reunion with some old ones.
I'll be doing most of the cooking and I couldn't find any GREAT bread last time I was there.
I could bake my own now, I guess.(sometimes).

dillon said...

Hi KT, I sent you an email as well. Yippee! I finally found an old post that I wrote to you on. Unfortunately I can't find the No Knead bread conversation. Oh well. I'm sure it was you that introduced me to his bread method and the way you used it to make a Pizza base. I've baked hundreds of loaves since then and one of the questions I get most asked is how did I first find out about the recipe? I replied "someone Tiger" but forgot your blog post's name, until now. I hope it was you, but if I'm am wrong the mystery will continue. btw you've got some great posts here and some cracking recipes. I'll keep an eye out for future posts and reference.
Cheers Dillon

KT said...

Yes, it was me. The post on no-knead bread hadn't been popular, so I archived it earlier this year. This was what you wrote: "I've mixed in semolina (1/2 cup), it produces an even more chewy Greek
style. Wonderful for mopping up olive oil juices at the bottom of
salads." Looks like you've mastered Jim Lahey's recipe!

dillon said...

Thanks so much KT. Jim has revolutionised bread making and influenced so many people all over the world. I've passed the method on to countless people as well. I would love to see that post of yours on Lahey re introduced. I'm so glad I discovered that it was you. I remember you mentioning making a wetter dough to spread on a baking tray as a base for pizzas as well. Anyway enough of my rave. Keep up the great cooking and sharing you do. btw does Kitchen Tigress have a FB page?
Bye Dillon

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