June is always a crazy busy month with all of the graduations, weddings and weekend getaways so suggesting you take time out now to bake bread seems slightly deranged, but I just had to share this amazingly delicious Garlic and Cheese Slathered Stretch Bread, courtesy of Marcy Goldman, the wonderful cook, pastry chef, cookbook author and creator of the long running blog, Better Baking, and the subject of today's Famous Fridays! Imagine the best warm pizza-like breadsticks you have ever tasted and then quadruple that--you've got to carve out a niche and make these!!
If you want to learn to be a better baker and cook, you should definitely pick up one (or several) of Marcy's cookbooks. The recipes are ultra-clear and full of pictures and helpful techniques to get you going. Right now I'm working my way through one of her older books, A Passion for Baking and I'm really learning a lot. As one of my New Year's resolutions I challenged myself to get better at baking bread and I think Marcy's approach has really made me more comfortable with using yeast. I really LOVE this book and I was having trouble picking which recipe to feature but the answer came when my son James, who often groans when he sees me trying some new out-there recipe, walked into the kitchen after I'd just baked this bread, grabbed a slice and broke out into a rapturous smile!
The dough comes together very easily and once it's risen, you divide it in half, stretch out each half into a long rectangle and then slather the dough all over with with a wonderful cheesy garlic topping filled with all sorts of yummy stuff like garlic (duh), Parmesan, mayonnaise and spices.
Next, you cover it all with a generous amount of shredded mozzarella cheese. Then you go off and do something else for a while (maybe something aerobic, knowing you'll soon be ingesting carbs, unless you have a tremendous amount of willpower!!) and let the dough rise again.
After that, you simply bake and slice into breadstick-like strips. The dough is wonderfully chewy and tender and the garlic cheese topping is out-of-this-world yummy! You'll try to stop after just one breadstick, but you won't be able to!
And while these are good on their own, they're also mighty tasty with a little marinara sauce for dipping purposes. So...if you happen to not being doing too much this weekend (yeah, right!) get yourself into the kitchen and whip up this amazing bread--you'll be so glad you did. And check out Marcy's blog and cookbooks too (when you get the chance of course, I know, I know, you're busy!!) Have a great weekend!!
Marcy Goldman's Garlic-Slathered Stretch Bread-Famous Fridays
Prep Time: 15 minutes (to make dough, plus several hours rising time), 10 minutes to make Garlic Mixture; Bake Time: 20-25 minutes
For the Dough
- 2 cups warm water (100ºF-110ºF)
- 1 3/4 teaspoons rapid-rise yeast
- 1 3/4 teaspoons salt
- 4 teaspoons sugar
- 4 cups bread flour (if dough is sticky you may need a bit more)
- olive oil for coating pan
For the Garlic-Slather
- 6 cloves garlic, finely minced
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2/3 cup mayonnaise (I used light)
- 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 cups freshly shredded mozzarella cheese (it's worth the time to shred your own--it melts so much more evenly and tastes so much better too)
- Marinara sauce for dipping (optional)
1. To make the dough: Line 2 large rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper and drizzle with a bit of olive oil. Set aside.
2. In the bowl of an electric mixer, hand whisk the water and yeast together. Let stand for 2-3 minutes until the yeast is dissolved. Whisk in the salt, sugar and 3 1/2 cups of the flour. Then attach the dough hook to the mixer and mix the dough on the lowest speed for 5-8 minutes until the dough has totally come together and is resilient but not tough--you may have to add in the extra 1/2 cup of flour to achieve this and even a bit more if it's still sticky. Remove the bowl from the mixer and spray the top of the dough lightly with nonstick cooking spray. Now cover the entire bowl with a large clear plastic bag (or a piece of tightly wrapped plastic wrap if you can't find a big enough bag). Let the dough sit for about 1 1/2-3 hours until doubled in size (mine came in at about 2 1/2 hours.)
3. Lightly flour a board or counter and turn the dough out onto it. Using your hands, gently punch the dough down. Cover it a piece of plastic wrap and let it rise. Meanwhile make the Garlic Slather.
4. To make the Garlic-Slather: If you have a mortar and pestle, grind the garlic and salt together. If not, use the back of a spoon against the side of a bowl to mash the garlic up with the salt to create somewhat of a paste. If you've used a mortar and pestle, transfer to a bowl. If not you can just continue with the bowl you've been using. Fold in the mayonnaise, Parmesan, salt and pepper and oil. Set aside.
5. Now divide the dough in half and stretch each half into a long oval, about 18x6 inches. Transfer each to the prepared baking sheets and top each with an equal amount of the garlic mixture, spreading it evenly over the dough. Top each with the mozzarella evenly. Cover both baking sheets loosely with plastic wrap and let the dough rise for about 1-1/2 hours until it's puffy.
6. Preheat oven to 400ºF. Bake one sheet at a time for about 20-25 minutes until the topping is sizzling and golden brown.
7. Transfer to a large board and using a pizza wheel or sharp knife cut into strips or chunks. Serve immediately as is or with marinara sauce for dipping. Breadsticks can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for several days and reheated in a 350ºF oven for 7-8 minutes until cheese is melted and bread is crisped up again.
Note: Recipe adapted from A Passion for Baking by Marcy Goldman. I left out the oregano and Italian seasoning in the garlic slather because we're not big fans of those spices and I also baked the breads on two separate sheets--mine were too crowded on one sheet.