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GARLIC BREAD (so good you're bound to get lucky...garlic breath and all)

I remember a mere seven days ago when I so naively squeezed gorgeous, roasted garlic from its skin and smooshed it between crusty bread.  And I lived in this ignorant bliss for many, many a year.  I thought that life could not possibly get any better than that.  Throw in a bottle of wine and some good cheese, maybe.  Well, world just got flipped on its head and then spun around by its knees (like watching one of the mind-blowing b-boys from 'So You Think You Can Dance'.  No longer is it required that I squeeze the garlic from the skins with my fingers onto my waiting loaf of bread.  No more licking my fingers to make sure I don't leave any behind.  From now on, I'll take my tender, pungent, deliciously addicting roasted garlic baked right into my bread.  Oh yeah, you heard me right.  One hand is all I need to convey the garlic and the bread into my hungry mouth.  That frees up my other hand for cheese holding ...and my other one for wine tipping...

Never you mind the fact that you need a good six hours from start to finish.  However, just one bite and those moments just melt away.  Your eyes will roll back in your head and something between a moan and a squeak will try to escape from deep down inside.  You will simultaneously be looking around for people to share this with and a place to hide it away so you can have it all to yourself.  If you already have someone to love, this'll keep 'em around.  If you're on the hunt, just keep this in your purse (or pocket, fellas) and see how many numbers you gather throughout the day.  Or, you may wake up to find yourself in a trance on a park bench with crumbs down your shirt and garlic on your breath.
Dan's Garlic Bread
reworked (by Dan) from Exceptional Breads by Dan Lepard to include a longer rise, less yeast, and less sugar via Living in the Kitchen with Puppies w/ my own wording mixed and jumbled in...
makes 3 loaves

200 ml water, at about 35° C-38° C (95° F-101° F)
1 tsp. fast acting yeast
200 grams strong white bakers flour (bread flour)

225 ml water at 20° C (68° F)
325 grams strong white bakers flour (bread flour)
10 grams sea salt
75 ml extra virgin olive oil

garlic filling
3 heads garlic, separated but not peeled
2 Tbs. extra virgin olive oil
50 ml water
1 Tbs. Balsamic vinegar
2 Tbs. caster sugar
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper I used white
1 sprig fresh rosemary, leaves picked & chopped

for the pre-ferment:
Stir in the yeast into the water,  when dissolved, stir in the flour until evenly combined.

Leave the mixture covered at warmish room temperature for ~2 hours, stirring the ferment once after an hour to bring the yeast in contact with new starch to ferment.
for the garlic filling:
Break the heads of garlic into cloves and place in a saucepan, cover with boiling water and simmer for ~4 minutes.  Strain the garlic from the water, cover the cloves with cold water to cool then peel the skin from the garlic.

Heat the olive oil in a small sauté pan, add the peeled garlic cloves to it and cook until they are lightly brown on the outside, stirring and shaking from time to time.  Take care not to burn them...this will render them unusable.  Combine the Balsamic vinegar and water, then add to pan along with the rest of the ingredients.  Simmer for ~5 minutes, or until the liquid has reduced to a thick caramel.  Garlic should be tender.  Scrape it into a small bowl and set aside.  This stuff is like candy to me.  Sooooo sticky and caramely and garlicky delicious!

back to the dough:
After ~2 hours, the pre-ferment should have doubled and look bubbly on the surface.
Measure the water into a bowl and tip the pre-ferment into it. Break it up with your fingers until only small thread-like bits remain (this is the elastic gluten you can feel in your fingers).

Add the flour and salt then stir the mixture together with your hands. It will feel very sticky and elastic. Scrape any remaining dough from your hands, then cover the bowl and let sit for 10 minutes. Be sure to scrape around the bowl to make sure all of the flour is incorporated into the dough.

Pour 2 Tbs. olive oil onto the surface of the dough and smooth it over the surface with your hands. Now rub a little oil on your hands and tuck your fingers down the side of the dough and pull the dough upward...stretching it out.  Rotate the dough around so that every part of the dough gets pulled and stretch.  The dough will begin to feel and look smoother.  Leave the dough in the bowl and cover, letting sit for 10 more minutes.

Repeat the pulling and stretching of the dough, for no more than ~10-12 seconds. You may find that an oily piece of dough breaks through the upper surface. This isn't a bad thing...but it is a sign to stop working the dough. Cover the bowl again and leave for a further 10 minutes.

This time oil a piece of the work surface about 30 cm (~12") in diameter. Oil your hands, pick the dough out of the bowl, place it on the oiled surface and knead it gently for 10-15 seconds. Return the dough to the bowl, cover and leave for 30 minutes.

Uncover the dough, oil the work surface once more and flip the dough out onto it.  Stretch the dough out into a rectangle, then fold the right side in by a third.  Fold one more time so that you have a rectangle.  Then fold the in thirds one more time, so that you're left with a square dough parcel. Place this back in the bowl, cover and leave for 30 minutes.

Lightly oil the work surface again and stretch the dough out to cover an area roughly 30cm x 20cm (~12"x8"). Spread the garlic evenly over the ⅔ of the surface of the dough. Fold the bare piece of dough over a third of the garlic-covered dough, then roll this fold of dough over so that the remaining garlic-covered piece is now covered by dough, as well. Then fold this piece of dough in by a third...then in by a third again. Finally place the folded dough back in the bowl, cover and leave for 30 minutes.
Wipe the oil off the work surface and lightly dust it with flour. Pin the dough out again as above and fold it in by thirds two more times (as you did above). Replace it in the bowl, cover and leave for a further 30 minutes.

Pin the dough out again fold it in by thirds two more times. Leave the dough for 10 more minutes.  I want to take this opportunity to mention how gorgeous this dough is...and what a pleasure it is to work with.  It started out a bit sticky, but once the "oil steps" were complete and after each rest period, it just turned light and fluffy like a pillow or a cloud.  You may be tempted to add more flour at first, when it still seems sticky...but don''ll all come together!

During this ten minutes, cover a large dinner tray (or the back of a sheet tray) with a tea-towel. Lightly dust it with white flour.

Set dough on a lightly floured cutting board and cut the dough into thirds, using a serrated knife.

Place the dough cut side up on the prepared (floured towel) tray, then pinch the fabric between each so that they stay separated.
Cover with a clean kitchen towel and leave for 45 minutes.  Preheat oven to 200° C (~400° F) during last 15-20 minutes of this time.  If you have a baking stone, place it on the middle rack of the oven.  Place a metal pan w/ sides on the bottom of the oven and bring a small pot of water to a boil.  If you don't have a baking stone, then simply dust the back of a baking sheet with semolina.

If using a baking stone, dust a pizza peel (or the back of a sheet tray or a small wooden cutting board w/ a handle, like I use) with semolina, then gently scoop the dough up from the cloth, lifting from end to end with your fingers...and place it on the peel.  Quickly slide it onto the hot stone and pour the boiling water into the tray at the bottom (for steam...and a crustier crust) and close the door quickly.  If not using a stone, transfer the loaves in the same manner to the prepared tray.  

Bake for 20-30 minutes (mine took 28), until loaves are a good, rich, golden brown.
I swooned mid-picture-taking when I snatched a slice from the cutting board and placed it in my mouth.  Soft and chewy and studded with sweet, mellow garlic...this is a bread of the gods.  I hurriedly snapped some more shots and half-stumbled in the side door while swooning and shouting to everyone that they HAD to get over here as fast as their legs would take them and eat a slice of this garlic bread.   Common consensus = Out of this world!

I am sharing this post with:
*Bread Baking Buddies (in conjunction w/ Bread Baking Babes) hosted by Babe Natashya at Living in the Kitchen with Puppies this month.
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