Cheesy Garlic Pan Bread

Back in December I was going through my end-of-the-year questions and spent a post lamenting the fact that despite baking up a lot of sourdough, I hadn’t spent much time exploring the potential of my starter as a starter for other recipes besides bread.

A goal for 2022 was to branch out, and the suggestions I gave myself in that post were to try some variety of recipes such as doughnuts, bagels or english muffins.

Instead, as inspiration would have it, I started instead with a crusty pan bread.

The Youtube algorithm tends to show me a lot of baking content these days, and my playlist offered up a recipe for a thick crust pan pizza. I skipped the pizza part and instead used some of the pizza advice and a half a recipe of my sourdough bread to whip up a tasty cheese bread that complimented our evening meal of beef stew.

cheesy garlic pan bread

500g bread flour
350g water
12g salt
250g active sourdough starter
250g hard cheese
3 garlic cloves
60ml olive oil
10g finishing salt

I made my basic sourdough recipe using the flour, water, salt and starter. This went through the typical hydration and folding cycle and then got covered and popped into the fridge overnight. Technically, I only used half of this to make the pan bread and used the other half to bake some simple sourdough rolls, but I’m sure any innovative baker can figure out something clever to do with half a recipe of ready-to-rise sourdough dough.

I oiled up my ten inch cast iron pan (using half the oil) and halving the dough from above, I balled and then flattened it, shaping it into a thick disk that sat about an inch from all sides of the pan. It was about 8am when I did this, and I wouldn’t go onto the next step until nearly 5pm when the dough disk had risen to a lovely volume that was closer to being ready to bake.

My folks had given us a huge wedge of gouda cheese as part of a Christmas basket, so I grated down a bunch of that. I also crushed the garlic in the remaining oil. Just like one might do with a loaf of foccacia I dimpled the surface of my dough disk with my finger tips then spread the garlic oil roughly over the surface.

Here’s the first trick I learned from that Youtube video. I took about half the grated cheese and made a thick edge right up against the edge of the disk and touching the cast iron. The point here is that as is melts it drips along the crack and gets all fried and crusty making a crispy cheesy edge.

The point is, you want the cheese (and quite a bit of it) right up to the edge of the dough.

With a saltier cheese I may have skipped this extra finishing salt sprinkled atop this whole creation. I like salty garlic bread, probably an artifact of growing up on garlic bread made from buttered toast sprinkled with garlic salt not real garlic, but it really does bring an added dimension to the finished product.

This spent 28 minutes in a 425F oven, but I was watching it carefully for the last five.

The second trick I learned from that Youtube video came right at the end. I checked the browning on the crust of the bread after I pulled it out of the oven to make sure it wasn’t too brown (it wasn’t) and then lit up the stovetop where I continued frying the bread right there in the cast iron pan for another 3 minutes. That crust just browned up a little more and it popped out of the pan glorious and crusty and cheesy as I expected.

My biggest problem was making sure there was some left over for tomorrow.

It was delicious, fresh and steaming hot from the oven, and I’ll be adding this to my regular rotation for family meals or perhaps even to share with friends some day again.

The Great Big List of 50 Pancake Topping Ideas

Saturday mornings are pancake mornings at our house. In fact, I was looking through some old videos yesterday (on my day off) and I had recorded some footage of my then-toddler daughter and I cooking pancake shapes and then smothering them in syrup. That is evidence enough that this has been a tradition for at least a decade around here.

This morning was no different: chocolate chip pancakes on the cast iron grill topped with some mixed berries and a generous slog of maple syrup (…did I mention we live in Canada?)

My plate looked particularly photogenic this morning, and so I took a shot before digging in. All of this, the old videos, the Saturday routine, the fresh fruit and maple syrup of course got me thinking about how we fall into routine and stick with the things that are comfortable. Chocolate chip pancakes are amazing, but we don’t veer far off course of the toppings list.

So, if I someday soon decided to stray a little bit from my patriotic imperative of supporting the national maple syrup industry, here are some of the things I might consider as a good starting list of familiar, unique, interesting, tasty, and maybe a little off-the-wall ideas to add to or on top of my Saturday pancakes:

  1. maple syrup (obviously)
  2. powdered sugar
  3. butter
  4. strawberries
  5. chocolate
  6. fruit syrup
  7. banana slices
  8. chopped toasted almonds
  9. shredded coconut
  10. mixed berries
  11. peach slices
  12. hazelnut spread
  13. whipped cream
  14. caramel sauce
  15. crumbled bacon
  16. lemon sugar
  17. cinnamon sugar
  18. lox
  19. blueberries
  20. fruit compote
  21. vanilla ice cream
  22. dulce de leche
  23. peanut butter
  24. baked apple slices
  25. poached egg
  26. yogurt
  27. raisins
  28. toasted macadamia nuts
  29. cream cheese
  30. honey
  31. marshmallow cream
  32. crumbled graham crackers
  33. cottage cheese
  34. avocado slices
  35. grilled ham
  36. candied ginger
  37. nut butter
  38. apple sauce
  39. corn syrup
  40. ricotta
  41. raspberries
  42. canned pears
  43. lemon curd
  44. mango coulis
  45. pineapple slices
  46. grilled spam
  47. hot fudge
  48. rhubarb sauce
  49. candied nuts
  50. chopped candy

…and now go check out my chocolate chip pancake recipe if you need some inspiration for where to put all these amazing options for toppings.