Although I adore garlic and love bread, I don't like the typical slice of garlic bread made from a slice taken from a French or Italian loaf and slathered with butter that's mixed with minced raw garlic or garlic powder: To me, that stuff is too sharp, overpowering the flavors of whatever it's served with. This recipe was given to me in 1987 by my friend Joann, who has a nasty habit of clipping recipes that she wants me to make. The original called for a teaspoon of garlic powder, which I immediately decreased to 1/2 teaspoon and in subsequent versions omitted altogether, substituting fresh garlic softened in butter. It also called for a quarter-cup of sugar, which was decreased to a tablespoon. At the time, I didn't own a KitchenAid stand mixer and had to stir the thick batter by hand--it takes a while, but a heavy-duty mixer isn't necessary for success. Neither is a casserole dish: I've made rolls by scooping the batter into well-greased mini, regular and large muffin tins, and I've made free-form rustic loaves by scraping the batter onto parchment-lined baking sheets. Don't try to substitute fresh basil and oregano for their dried counterparts--trust me, this is one exception to the rule that fresh is better, even if the amounts of fresh herbs are tripled. —betteirene
1 large loaf
olive oil or butter
cloves garlic, peeled and pressed or finely minced
In a small saucepan over very low heat, combine the olive oil or butter with the garlic. Heat slowly until the garlic is soft and fragrant, about 3 minutes, making sure the garlic doesn't burn. Add the milk and heat to scalding. Remove from heat and stir in the water. Set aside.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook, stir together 3 cups of the flour, the sugar, oregano, basil, salt and yeast. When the garlic-liquid mixture has cooled to lukewarm (about 120 degrees), pour it into the dry ingredients along with an egg yolk. Beat about two minutes at medium speed. Add enough additional flour, 1/4 cup at a time, scraping down sides and beating for two minutes after each addition, to make a stiff and sticky batter. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let rise until dough reaches the top of the bowl, about 1 hour at room temperature or in the refrigerator for about 3 hours.
Stir batter down and place it into a greased 2-quart glass or ceramic casserole of any shape. Cover with a towel (not terrycloth) and let rise 30 minutes until roughly doubled in size, longer if batter has been refrigerated.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Beat egg white in small bowl until foamy; brush surface of the loaf and sprinkle it lightly with kosher salt before the egg white dries. Bake for about 45 minutes, until loaf is deep golden brown and internal temperature is 190 degrees. Remove immediately from casserole and allow to cool on a wire rack.