My Dad’s Garlic Bread

My Dad’s Garlic Bread Recipe

Garlic bread is one of my dad's specialties. But before we get into the details, let me back up a bit and start by saying that I was one of the fortunate kids growing up - really lucky. My dad cooked dinner for us nearly every night when he got home from work - AND he loved to do the dishes (a trait that clearly skips a generation). Well into my teen years friends tolerated slightly less liberal curfews at the Swanson household in exchange for the payoff the next morning - my dad's Saturday standard consisting of homemade biscuits, eggs, bacon, and freshly squeezed orange juice. The only problem my sister and I could identify was the early hour it was served. He would plate up at 8 a.m. laughing as he bellowed "up all night, up all day!"

I called my dad yesterday and asked him about his garlic bread. Everyone loves these garlic-studded, golden-crusted masterpieces and he brings baskets brimming with slices to lots of 'events' - office parties, picnics, parades, bingo night (somehow he ended up being a caller?). My dad is a chronic volunteer, so there are lots of opportunities for him to display his garlic bread-making prowess. I've had it a thousand times, but never paid much attention to his technique, so today was the day.

What follows is more of a technique than an actual recipe. The amount of garlic you'll end up using will correspond with the size of your bread loaf. My dad likes to use those giant supermarket 'artisan' bread loaves. I suspect it is because the larger loaves have more of the white bread 'flesh' enabling the absorption of lots and lots of garlic infused butter. I opted for a wide/tall french baguette from the bakery up the street from my house. You don't want to go with too narrow a baguette or you wind up with the wrong ratio of soft, garlic-buttery insides to crust. The baguettes with more body stay nice and moist throughout the baking and broiling. It's actually hard to go wrong, I mean this is garlic bread we are talking about - but the kind of bread you choose will define your final outcome.

I couldn't help leaving my little mark (and a bit of visual flair) on the recipe, so I added lots of lemon zest and chopped chives.

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My Dad's Garlic Bread

The size of your baguette will determine how much butter and garlic you'll use. My dad uses roughly one head of garlic for each stick of butter.

1 loaf artisan French bread or wide baguette
1 - 2 heads of garlic
1 - 2 sticks of unsalted butter
1 bunch of chives (optional)
zest of one lemon (optional)

As told to me by my father. Slice that loaf of bread right up the middle so you have two halves (he uses his serrated knife for this). Now set them on their backs, cut side up. Mince the garlic or push it through one of those crushers - either way is fine. Now add it to the butter you should be melting in a small saucepan.

(This is where he got really animated). Now take a basting brush (or any brush for that matter - pastry, etc) and start slathering the garlic butter all across that bread. Really go for it, let it soak in. He then says to me, "heck, sometimes I even pour it on." (At which point I can't help but think that my mom would be mortified). Make sure you get all those garlic chunks evenly distributed. Now sometimes my dad makes a garlic bread in advance and freezes it (don't ask). If you are going to freeze the bread for later, this is when you do it - you don't want to bake, then freeze.

He recommends the 'double-bake' as he calls it. This is when you bake at a standard temperature (350 degrees) for 10 to 15 minutes to heat the bread (particularly if it is coming out of the freezer), and then brown it off for color under the broiler for a minute or two.

When the bread is finished broiling let it cool for a minute or two. This is when I sprinkle with the lemon zest and chives (and to be honest, I sprinkle a bit of zest on the bread before it goes in the oven too because I like that roasted lemon flavor alongside the garlic.) Slice and serve.

The short version of this recipe:
Cut, slather, bake, brown, slice.

If you make this recipe, I'd love to see it - tag it #101cookbooks on Instagram!

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Comments

  • Looks very good. Your dad makes the recipe great, by the way he tells it. I will surely try it out!

    LV
  • wow... looks soooo yummy! I bookmarked it in case I will need it someday.... in fact I know I will need it someday... :P

    Anne
  • such an easy recipe that even a newbie like me can do! hope I'll achieve the result that your dad has! I'll try it sometime to serve at the bar. Thanks!!

    Maruska
  • It appears cooking is in your genes. That garlic bread looks wonderful, and I love your twist of adding chives and lemon. Your version has real kick.

    rob
  • Heidi, Thankyou for reminding me that all these evenings and Saturday mornings are eventually going to pay rich dividends!! I'm a stay-at-home dad and fix dinner nightly (tonite we had grilled homestyle pork ribs slathered in olive oil and herbes de provence, baked potatoes also slathered in olive oil, sea salt, and garlic/basil parmesan, and sweet corn.) THIS GARLIC BREAD RECIPE WILL BE AN INSTANT CLASSIC!!! Garlic is a food group at our house, as evidenced by our lack of trips to the Dr's office. Keep posting!!!! Call your dad and tell him one more time how much you love him and what a great influence he had on your culinary life.

    Jay
  • YES to the simple pleasures! Garlic bread at my house was made with a whole loaf of crusty bread, sliced down, with the garlic butter spread on the slices. Wrap in foil, then bake. It's wonderful. That said, I make it like your father, had almost forgotten the other. Your story kicked in memories -- thanks.

    Susan G
  • My dad was the cook also. He loved to make garlic bread or anything with garlic but he had to do it when my mom wasn't home because she loathes the smell of garlic.

    Heather
  • Love the story, but..... isn't the plural of "loaf" LOAVES? I was reading and hearing recently about the death of spelling and grammar learning in schools. It seems that computer spell-check and grammar check are killing the language.....

    Marion
  • mmmmm....can't wait to try this one....it looks so good!

    joyce
  • I have been doing this same type of garlic bread, as taught to me by my mom, for years and it is very good! The only thing I do differently sometimes is to sprinkle freshly grated mozzarella on the top of everything. It helps to cut the bread in pieces before you put it in the oven and before you put the cheese on so when it comes out hot, you don't have to cut hot bread. Just don't cut it all the way through and when it's done you can tear apart the pieces with you hands. It is a great family recipe!

    Sheila
  • I have been doing this same type of garlic bread, as taught to me by my mom, for years and it is very good! The only thing I do differently sometimes is to sprinkle freshly grated mozzarella on the top of everything. It helps to cut the bread in pieces before you put it in the oven and before you put the cheese on so when it comes out hot, you don't have to cut hot bread. Just don't cut it all the way through and when it's done you can tear apart the pieces with you hands. It is a great family recipe!

    Sheila
  • A great story, great pictures and a great recipe. 'Butter makes it better' is a saying my mother used to use!

    Tim
  • That looks like some of the best garlic bread I have ever seen. This is a fantastic post.

    Kristen
  • Looks and sounds fantastic! A recipe like this is worth the garlic through the pores the next day! ha ha! Great post - thanks!

    Chris
  • We adore (adore, mind you!) garlic bread, and this one sounds gorgeous, but 1 - 2 sticks of butter is positively lethal. If you want to ease away from all that cholesterol, you can try a 50 / 50 butter and olive oil combo. Or, if you don't need that butter taste (and I know, I know - sometimes nothing else will do), you can go all olive oil. The other thing you can try is parmigiano reggiano in lieu of the chives and lemon. Half cup grated and you have a nice variation to enjoy. Thanks!

    almost vegetarian
  • I couldn't help but smile imagining your dad get animated and passionate about one of his pet recipes! How adorable :) Great recipe!! I do the same thing, but with slices of supermarket wholemeal bread, but I coom it on a pan on medium heat, letting the buttered side get brown and extremely crunchy! That's how they used to serve it in a great salad bar called "Sizzler" in Singapore.

    Snehal
  • Sounds delicious, I'm off to the shop to purchase your said ingredients, maybe with a hint of oregano as well

    Jesse-Lee Stringer
  • Heidi, Great writing about your dad! But um...I will have to wait on this recipe, you see, I can't make this for just my fiance and I because we would eat the whole loaf, then I would be stuck thinking, "I just ate a stick of butter" : ) So, I will have to wait until friends come over, then I will fool myself into thinking I only ate a half stick... perfectly healthy...ahh...mind games with myself, love it! Thanks for the post!

    Stacey
  • I can relate-my husband makes breakfast for all teenagers who crash at our house-he yells for them to come and get it as he plates kind of early as well. Ha.

    elle
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