This is a far superior garlic bread than the sort you can buy ready made, with a focaccia base and the added bonuses of chilli and cheese. I do like the 'normal' sort of garlic bread, when it is homemade and a generous hand has spread the garlic-parsley butter between each slice of baguette. It's certainly the best way of transforming the reduced French sticks at supermarket closing time. This version takes a little more time as you are making the dough from scratch, but it hardly takes any more effort, just a little mixing and kneading. The common factor is the butter, and it is important for delectable garlic bread. Although this doesn't quite constitute a meal, it is just the sort of thing that goes down well to eat while watching a film, or just having drinks and conversation with friends.
For the dough:
300g strong white bread flour
1/2 sachet yeast (about 1 1/2 tsp)
300ml warm water
2 tbsp olive oil
50g unsalted butter, very soft
2 cloves of garlic, very finely chopped or crushed
2 tablespoons Parmesan, grated
pinch chilli flakes
pinch sea salt
Combine the flour, salt and dough in a large mixing bowl. Mix the water and oil in a measuring jug, and pour into the dry ingredients. Mix to make a dough. Knead for 5 minutes, adding more flour if necessary. It should be a soft elastic dough. Leave to rise until doubled in size, about 2 hours.
Preheat the oven to 200C. Flour a 20cm x 30cm baking sheet. When the dough has risen, punch down it down and knead again, for about a minute. With a rolling pin, your hands, or a combination of both, flatte the dough to a rectangle that fits the baking sheet, it should be about 1/2cm thick. Leave to rise for another 30 minutes. Mean while, mix together the butter, garlic, chilli, Parmesan and salt. When the 30 minutes is up, spread the flavoured butter all over the surface of the dough. Bake for around 25 minutes, until it is golden. Best enjoyed while still hot, or at least warm