Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Roast Garlic and Parsley Hearthbread

Roast Garlic and Parsley Hearthbread
Home Cooking


Indian food is one of my favorite cultural cuisines (then again, I do have 'several' favorites). Whenever I go to an Indian restaurant, I always prefer to soak up the curry with fresh Naan bread than rice. Properly baked Naan bread is absolutely delicious. I've tried the supermarket variety and that's not even in contention.

When I read the description for this hearthbread as a mix between garlic Naan and herb foccacia, I knew I had to make it. What's more, I even especially ordered curry to eat with it.

This meal is for mine and Charlie's 8 months anniversary. We're going to Brett's Wharf on the actual day so that's why we're doing this at-home thing 2 days in advance.

I got the recipe from Nigella Lawson's "How to be a Domestic Goddess" and I halved all the quantities to make 4 smallish pieces of bread.

Roast Garlic and Parsley Hearthbread
Makes 4 small pieces

Ingredients:
  • 1.75 cup white bread flour
  • 1/2 package of dry yeast
  • 1/2 tbsp salt
  • 1/2-3/4 cups warm water
  • 2 tbsp olive oil (plus more for greasing)
  • 1 large head of garlic
  • bunch of parsley
  • salt for sprinkling
Procedure:

1. Combine flour, yeast and salt in a bowl.
2. In a measuring cup, stir together 1/2 cup of water and the olive oil.
3. Add the oil/water to the dry ingredients and stir to make a soft but firm dough. Add more water if required.
4. Once the desired consistency is achieved, turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth, supple and elastic.
5. Form into a ball and place in large bowl with a bit of oil to coat it all over.
6. Cover the dough with plastic wrap and tea towel and leave to rise. You'll need to wait until the dough has doubled in size which can take up to an hour.

In the meantime...

1. Cut the top off the head of garlic (make sure it remains whole).
2. Wrap garlic in foil with a drizzle of oil. The package should be baggy but the foil sealed tightly around the edges.
3. Cook for approx 20-30min till it is mushy but still holds shape
4. Remove garlic from oven, unwrap and cool till it can be handled
5. Tear leaves off the parsley and process in a food processor
6. Add the garlic (with skin removed) and keep processing
7. Add a stream of olive oil to the garlic mix and create a runny paste
Note: I just used a mortar pestle for this. It was hard work but that was still preferable to using my blender as a food processor. I was put off by the prospect of having garlic-tasting smoothies for the rest of eternity.

Once the bread dough has doubled...

1. Punch the dough down again and leave for 10min.
2. Split the dough into 4 chunks and sit the balls onto 2 sheets of baking paper.
3. Press the balls out into rectangular or oval shapes.
4. Cover with a tea towel and leave for 25min to let the dough get puffy again.
5. Preheat oven to 200 degrees Celsius.

And then...

1. Poke your fingers over the top of the bread to form dimples.
2. Spread your herb oil mix onto each flatbread.
3. Bake for 20min or until the breads are cooked (golden surface with the garlic flecks a darker brown. The rims should be puffy around the oily topping).
4. To serve, drizzle with good extra-virgin olive oil and sprinkle with some salt.
Note: I also put some slices of shaved parmesan underneath the herb spread.
The end result wasn't very Naan-like and much more foccacia-like but it was fantastically aromatic all the same. I had a very hard time waiting for the curry to arrive because I just wanted to scoff down the bread while it was still piping hot.

I served my bread with fragrant beef massaman curry from Sri Thai, Mount Ommaney (see photo at the top).

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