We were invited to dinner yesterday at a friend’s house and I offered to bring homemade bread. After searching through my recipes and trying to come up with something “fun” to make I decided to re-invent my old tried-and-true Rustic Italian Bread recipe. The result was amazingly delicious and incredibly easy – Roasted Garlic & Sea Salt Italian Bread! We use the basic outline of this recipe to make bread for just about every occasion and even divide it into 4 oblong loaves to make sub rolls! Hope you enjoy!
- 1 head fresh Garlic, roasted & mashed
- 1 c. warm Water (100-110 degrees)
- 1 pkg active, dry Yeast (or 2 1/4 tsp)
- 2 tsp granulated Sugar
- 2 tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- 3 c. Flour
- 3/4 tsp coarse Sea Salt (plus more for sprinkling on top)
- 1 Egg White, slightly beaten
- Cornmeal (optional)
- fresh Parmesan Cheese, shredded (optional)
- additional Extra Virgin Olive Oil
To roast the garlic, peel the outer layers of head of garlic away, leaving the casing around the individual cloves in tact. Cut the top off of the head (to allow easy-squeeze-access of your cloves once they’re roasted). Place head of garlic on a piece of aluminum foil, drizzle with a tbsp of extra virgin olive oil, seal foil, & roast in a preheated 400 degree oven for 40 minutes, or until cloves are soft to the touch. All to cool for 2 minutes and then squeeze the uncut end of the garlic head towards the top, cut end until the cloves slide out of their encasing. Use a paper towel or dish cloth to protect your hands from getting burned. Using a fork, quickly mash the garlic cloves. Set aside.
In a large bowl combine yeast, sugar, and warm water. Let sit for 5 minutes to activate the yeast. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour and coarse sea salt. When your yeast is ready, add 2 tbsp olive oil and your mashed garlic. Slowly add the flour to your yeast mixture and stir until well combined. Turn out onto a floured surface and knead until smooth (about 3 – 5 minutes). Place in an oiled bowl, turning to coat, cover and let rise 1 hour, or until doubled in size.
When your dough has doubled in size, punch down and let rest for 5 minutes. Turn out and shape into a ball. Place on a baking sheet that has been sprinkled with cornmeal lightly. Cover and let rise for another 30 minutes.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Carefully cut several slits in the top of your loaf with a sharp knife. Brush the top of the bread evenly with lightly beaten egg white and sprinkle generously with additional coarse sea salt. Place on center rack of oven and bake for 25 minutes. Carefully pull your bread out of the oven and sprinkle with a few tablespoons of freshly shredded Parmesan cheese. Put back in the oven for additional 5 – 10 minutes, or until the bread is crispy, golden brown, and sounds hollow when tapped on.
Cool on a wire rack, slice, and enjoy!!
* If you’d like a crispier crust, place a cast iron skillet on the bottom rack of your oven when you preheat the oven. Fill it with ice cubes when you put your bread in the oven. This will create steam inside your oven and allow for a crispier crust.
This bread is great with just about any meal, or slice it to make sandwiches! Another great option is to use it to make Bruschetta (omit the garlic since the bread already has it in it). You can also make several loaves, wrap them in aluminum foil and freeze for use within the next two weeks. To thaw, pop foil-wrapped loaves in a preheated 350 degree oven for 10 – 15 minutes or until warm & thawed.
Alternate Variations –
- For more garlic flavor, add an addition head of roasted garlic or consider adding the garlic cloves unmashed to your dough.
- To spice it up a bit, add 1 tbsp of fresh rosemary to the dough, when you add the garlic.
- To make just the basic italian bread recipe, omit the roasted garlic and use regular salt instead of coarse sea salt. You can also omit the Parmesan cheese on top.
- To make into sub rolls, after your dough has doubled in size the first time & you’ve punched it down, let it rest for 5 minutes, then divide it into 4 equal portions. Form into oblong rolls and cover to let rise 30 minutes. Cut a single slit in the top of each one & bake the same as you would for a full loaf.
- To make dinner rolls, follow the same instructions for sub rolls, but divide into 12 equal rolls, let rest, cut a crisscross in the top and bake as you would the full loaf.
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