You can now read 10 articles in a month for free on BostonGlobe.com. Read as much as you want anywhere and anytime for just 99¢.

The Boston Globe

Magazine

Cooking

The upper crusts

Classic garlic bread plus five creative varieties to try.

Unseeded and unsliced scali bread is the author’s favorite for these recipes.

Photograph by Jim Scherer / Styling by Catrine Kelty

Unseeded and unsliced scali bread is the author’s favorite for these recipes.

CLASSIC BUTTERY GARLIC BREAD

Makes a 1-pound loaf

Essentially any 1-pound loaf will work here, but the garlic bread of my youth was always slightly soft and spongy, and good or bad, I’ve carried that standard into adulthood. So I usually use decent but not top-quality bread, as the really good stuff strikes me as a little too firm. Scali bread is a particular favorite, unseeded (the sesame seeds can burn in the hot oven) and unsliced.

Back in the ’90s, I developed the Cook’s Illustrated garlic bread recipe. With toasted garlic to mellow the bite and a little Parmesan for depth (but not an overtly cheesy flavor), it’s a good recipe and is the basis for this one.

1 medium head garlic, cloves separated and skins left on

5 tablespoons unsalted butter, at a warm room temperature

1½ tablespoons grated Parmesan

Salt and pepper

1 large loaf scali bread (about 12 inches long) or elongated oval Italian bread

Continue reading below

With the rack in the center position, heat the oven to 475 degrees. Peel and mince 2 garlic cloves and set aside. In a small skillet over medium heat, toast the remaining garlic cloves until spotty brown and fragrant, shaking the pan occasionally to turn the cloves, about 10 minutes. When the toasted garlic is cool enough to handle, peel and very finely chop it (you should have between 3 and 4 tablespoons). In a medium bowl, use a fork to mash together the toasted garlic, raw garlic, butter, Parmesan, ½ teaspoon salt, and pepper to taste until well blended and uniform.

Halve the bread lengthwise and smear both halves evenly (and all the way to the edges) with the butter mixture. Place the halves buttered side up on a large baking sheet, and bake until the surface is golden brown and toasted, about 12 minutes, rotating the baking sheet halfway through baking time. Cut the halves into pieces and serve at once, piping hot.

Variations

CLASSIC GARLIC BREAD WITH OLIVE OIL

A fine option for those who like the flavor, or health benefits, of olive oil.

Follow the directions for Classic Buttery Garlic Bread, substituting 5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil for the butter.

HERBED GARLIC BREAD

Follow the directions for Classic Buttery Garlic Bread or Classic Garlic Bread With Olive Oil, adding 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley and 3 tablespoons finely chopped mixed fresh pungent herbs, such as rosemary, thyme, sage, or oregano to the butter or oil mixture.

CHEESY GARLIC BREAD

Continue reading below

Follow the directions for Classic Buttery Garlic Bread or Classic Garlic Bread With Olive Oil, making the following changes:

1) Increase the quantities of grated Parmesan to ¼ cup and salt to 1 teaspoon.

2) Along with the Parmesan, add ½ cup finely grated Asiago cheese to the butter or oil mixture.

3) Increase the baking time to about 16 minutes for the cheese to brown.

GARLIC BREAD WITH TAPENADE

Follow the directions for Classic Buttery Garlic Bread or Classic Garlic Bread With Olive Oil, making the following changes:

1) Add ¼ cup olive tapenade to the butter or oil mixture.

2) Increase the baking time to about 16 minutes.

TIP Toast garlic in a dry pan with the skins on.

Michele McDonald

TIP Toast garlic in a dry pan with the skins on.

GARLIC BREAD WITH CARAMELIZED ONIONS, ANCHOVIES, AND ROSEMARY

The flavors here mirror loosely those of the classic Provencal pizza called pissaladiere.

Follow the directions for Classic Buttery Garlic Bread or Classic Garlic Bread With Olive Oil, making the following changes:

1) In a small skillet over medium-high heat, heat 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil until it shimmers. Add 2 medium onions, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced (about 2¼ cups), and ½ teaspoon salt, toss to coat, and cook, stirring, until the onions begin to soften and release some liquid, about 5 minutes. Adjust the heat to medium-low and continue cooking, stirring and scraping the bottom of the skillet frequently (and adjusting the heat, if necessary), until the onions are soft, sticky, and golden, about 40 minutes longer (you should have about a generous ½ cup). Add 5 oil-packed anchovies, minced (about 1 generous tablespoon), or more to taste, and 1½ teaspoons minced fresh rosemary, stir to mix, and continue cooking to infuse the onions, about 4 minutes longer. Scrape the onions onto a plate, spread into an even layer, and set aside to cool. When cool enough to handle, finely chop the onion mixture and add it to the butter or oil mixture.

2) Omit the grated Parmesan and increase the quantity of salt to ¾ teaspoon.

3) Increase the baking time to about 16 minutes.

Send comments to cooking@globe.com.

You have reached the limit of 10 free articles in a month

Stay informed with unlimited access to Boston’s trusted news source.

  • High-quality journalism from the region’s largest newsroom
  • Convenient access across all of your devices
  • Today’s Headlines daily newsletter
  • Subscriber-only access to exclusive offers, events, contests, eBooks, and more
  • Less than 25¢ a week