If you've listened to the podcast, you'll know one of us was scared of this recipe. He shouldn't have been. This loaf of savory bread from Hillary Davis' LE FRENCH OVEN is a marvel: tender crumb, great structure, a nice crunch, and all that basil-garlic goodness inside. It was easy, too--no kneading by us, just a little by the food processor.
We encourage you to check out Hillary's book for this recipe, shared here by permission, as well as dozens of hearty braises and even a few surprises from that cast-iron pot that's a staple of our kitchen. For your copy of the book, just click here.
And if you haven't heard our podcast (for shame!), click here on iTunes (safest bet) or check out the link at the bottom of this page for a direct download into your browser window.
So . . . the recipe
Homemade Basil Garlic Bread from LE FRENCH OVEN by Hillary Davis
(reprinted with permission)
- 1 cup (240 ml) warm water (between 105F and 115F)
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 3 cups (360 grams) bread flour, plus more as needed
- 2 teaspoons kosher or sea salt
- 1 large egg, beaten with 1 teaspoon water
- 3 tablespoons (45 grams) unsalted butter, melted and cooled a bit
- 2 medium garlic cloves
- 1 bunch of fresh basil, stemmed
- 4 ounces (110 grams) Parmigiano-Reggiano, sliced
- 1 tablespoon (30 ml) olive oil, plus additional for greasing
1. Position the rack in the middle of the oven. Cut a piece of parchment paper quite a bit larger than a 5-quart round French oven. Butter the bottom of the French oven.
2. Place the water and sugar in a small bowl and stir until the sugar dissolves. Sprinkle the yeast over the top and let sit for 10 to 15 minutes, until the mixture looks foamy.
3. Meanwhile, add the flour and 1 1/2 teaspoons salt to a food processor.
4. When the yeast mixture is foamy, turn on the food processor and pour in the yeast mixture and the egg (with its water) through the feed tube until the the combined mixture forms a ball. Pour in the melted butter and process for 5 to 10 seconds, until a ball reforms.
5. Heat the oven to 350F (180C) for 2 minutes, then turn the oven off. This will warm it up enough to put the dough in to rise. Turn the dough into a large, oiled bowl, rolling it around to coat with the oil; cover with plastic wrap and place a towel over the top. Put it in the oven for 1 1/2 hours or until the dough doubles in size.
6. While the dough is rising, make the filling. With the food processor running, toss in the garlic to mince. Turn off the machine; add the basil, Parmesan, and the remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt. Process for 20 seconds. With the machine running, pour in 1 tablespoon (15 ml) oil and process until the mixture is smooth.
7. After 1 1/2 hours, take the dough out of the oven. Put the French oven into your oven and heat to 450F (230C) for 35 minutes. (Do not cut short this timing.)
8. Meanwhile, turn the dough out onto a clean, well-floured surface. Flour your hands and gently roll out the dough to a rectangle a little larger than your French oven. Spread the filling over it to within 1/4 inch (1/2 cm) of the sides. Roll up the dough and bring it together into a ball. Pinch the seams to seal and place the dough seam side down at the center of the parchment paper.
9. With kitchen mitts, carefully lift the French oven out of the hot oven and place it on a kitchen towel or heat-proof surface.
10. Hold both sides of the parchment paper and use it as a sling to lower the dough into the hot French oven. Put the lid on with the parchment paper hanging outside; place the French oven in the center of the rack in the oven. Bake for 30 minutes. Take the lid off and see if it is browned and cooked through. Hillary says she usually stops at this point, but if yours needs added browning or cooking, keep it uncovered and bake for an additional 5 to 10 minutes.
11. Remove from the oven and allow the bread to cool on a wire rack for at least 10 minutes before slicing.