Last Tuesday I wrote about Holly B’s French Bread. I still had some of the biga in the refrigerator (it lasts up to 2 weeks there), so I decided it made sense to make the other bread in the book that uses a biga. I have seen the Pugliese loaves on the bakery’s shelves and they are a sight to behold. Large, round, and covered with flour they are a tribute to the powers of yeast. In the book, Holly says that she uses the Pugliese loaves to make the Bruschetta that is always on offer in the bakery. I needed an appetizer last week and I figured this was the perfect option.
Alas, I had a baking failure. I have heard from countless people that they are afraid to make bread. I get it that yeast can be scary but up until very recently, I have never baked a bread that didn’t turn out. I have had moments of doubt where I think I have killed the yeast and then, lo and behold, all rises as it should and the bread turns out great.
As I was preparing this dough, it seemed awfully wet and sticky. The recipe says, in several places, that the dough will be sticky and needs to be floured well and often. I followed those directions, I let it rise for the required time (3 hours!), attempted to shape the loaves, and realized that it was not going to turn out well. The dough was the consistency of sludge. I don’t know where I went wrong but I persevered, baked the bread, and threw it away when it came out about as risen as a pancake.
Onward. Instead of a home-baked Pugliese, I used a large round loaf from the grocery store and proceeded with this recipe. This is not rocket science. Take a few very good ingredients, mix them together, put them on toasted bread. But like many simple things, this tastes like so much more than the sum of its parts.
When I decided to take on my own personal Holly B’s challenge, I decided to not change the recipes at all. What good is it to praise a book, bake your way through it, and then deliberately alter the recipes? With this one though, I just had to. Holly advises you to make a garlic infused oil which you liberally slather over the bread before baking. I know olive oil is a healthy fat and all that, but I just can’t eat bread that has been soaked in oil. And if I can’t eat it, I can’t ask my guests to. Instead, I lightly drizzled the bread with olive oil, baked it until starting to brown, and then ran a raw garlic clove over the surface of each piece. I’ve left the recipe as it appears in the book below.
To buy Holly B’s book, With Love & Butter, visit this site.
One Year Ago: Rosemary Aïoli
Holly B’s Bruschetta
With Love & Butter
Of course, you could really use any kind of bread to make these. I think cutting slices from a large round loaf gives you more of a wow factor.
6 1/2-inch thick slices from a large round loaf of bread
3 cloves garlic
6 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
6 ripe Roma tomatoes
6 large, fresh basil leaves
Preheat the oven to 375°F with the rack in the middle. Arrange the bread on a cookie sheet. Press the garlic into a small bowl containing 3 tablespoons of the olive oil. Stir the garlic into the oil and smear the mixture evenly onto the top sides of the bread slices with your fingertips.
Toast the garlic bread until crisp and golden brown, about 20 minutes, turning the pan halfway through the baking. Remove from the oven and cool.
Pare the ends of the tomatoes and cut into 1/4-inch slices. Place them in a medium bowl and drizzle with the remaining 3 tablespoons of olive oil. Sprinkle with salt. Medium chop the basil and throw into the bowl with the tomatoes. Toss everything around until it’s all oil-coated.
Arrange the tomato slices artfully atop the bread slices. Scrape the bowl with a spatula and make sure any remaining juice makes it onto the Bruschetta. Serve with wine, some good cheese, or just solo – any time of day.