No, I’m not talking about spaghetti served with a side of garlic bread. I mean spaghetti bread seasoned with garlic. I’ve been investigating ways to improve my bread dough, and this idea looked both attractive and tasty. But considering how easy it is to make bread dough, I made my own instead of using frozen. The lattice weaving is beautiful, the filling stays in place surprisingly well, and (better than my first attempt at apple turnovers) I didn’t have to worry about making them all the same size or the filling leaking.
A few tips:
- Either use a very thick sauce, or use less than you would normally.
- Parchment paper, although expensive, is wonderful for this project. I probably would have done fine without it, but it’s a good safety net.
- If you don’t like carbs-on-carbs, you can omit the pasta and use veggies or meat instead.
Here’s what I did:
1 1/2 cup of water
1/2 cup milk (I use skim, but it’s not picky)
Heat these two ingredients (I used a saucepan because I’m like that) until it reaches 110-ish degrees. (Or until just boiling and then let it cool for a while.)
Add 2 1/2 teaspoons (2 packets/envelopes) of active dry yeast and stir until dissolved. You can sprinkle the yeast on top and let it bubble for ten minutes, but I’ve never had good luck with that.
Add 2 teaspoons of sugar (I used white granulated) and stir until dissolved.
Add 2 tablespoons of oil (I used olive extra virgin) and stir.
Depending on your humidity and environmental conditions, add up to 6-ish cups of flour (I used unbleached all-purpose white flour, but unbleached bread flour works great, too). I learned the hard way to add 1-2 cups at a time and stir. Don’t dump all 6 cups in at once because you may need less or more–and it’s a pain when your dough has too much flour. I threw away an entire lump of dough last weekend because it had too much flour and I didn’t have the time or patience to fuss it back into shape.
Also add 2 teaspoons of salt (I use kosher, but you can use any kind).
Stir in the bowl until the dough doesn’t mix anymore, and then turn the dough onto a clean surface. (I do it right on my very clean kitchen counter, but you can use a floured pastry cloth or whatever you prefer.) Knead until all the flour has been absorbed, the dough doesn’t stick (you may need to add a bit more flour if the dough gets sticky), and the consistency is smooth and soft like a baby’s bottom. 😀 This takes me somewhere between 5 and 10 minutes, but I’ve never timed it. I usually knead too much because I love the feeling of bread dough in between my fingers. Grown-up playdough, that’s what I’m calling it!
Either wash out your original mixing bowl or get a new one, smear a bit of oil on the inside, and plop the dough into the bowl. Cover with cling wrap or a towel and let the dough rise for 30-90 minutes, or until it’s doubled in size. (Times are approximate because it will depend on humidity, temperature, yeast in your air–no kidding!–etc. It took me 45 minutes, fyi.)
This is a good time to chop up onions, mince garlic, slice mushrooms/olives/whatever veggies you want, and saute them. Dump them into whatever pasta sauce you prefer (full confession: I use jarred spaghetti sauce because my local grocery store sells them far more cheaply than I could make them). I added hot sauce because I love hot sauce. 😀
Once the dough has risen, punch it down in the bowl to deflate the bubbles (this is fun!). Turn it out onto the clean surface to knead (briefly) again. Separate the dough into two equal parts. Set half the dough back into the oiled bowl and cover with a towel/cling wrap to let it rise again while you work with the other half. Put down a length of parchment paper onto the counter and roll the other dough into a roughly rectangular shape. The dough will spring back–that’s okay for now. Cover the dough with a damp cloth/towel (dampness is important!) and let it sit for 10-15 minutes. Do the same with the second ball of dough (or, if you only want one loaf of spaghetti bread, shape the second ball into a loaf and set into a loaf pan). I use this time to wash dishes or clean up the kitchen.
While you wait, set water to boil and cook the pasta. I used thin spaghetti, but you can also use regular or angel hair. Drain and use cooking scissors to cut the noodles into smaller lengths (you don’t have to, but it makes it easier to cut slices of bread later). Mix the noodles into the sauce with veggies and remove from heat.
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. I get better results with my bread if the oven preheats for half an hour before baking.
After 10-15 minutes, flip the dough over and roll out. By now, the dough should be much softer and easier to work with. Roll into a big rectangle. It’s fun to see how far the dough stretches!
By now, your pasta mixture should be cool. Spread onto the center of the dough. It should be a nice, even long strip that allows about 1/2 inch on the shorter sides and several inches on the longer sides (you’ll need this to wrap the filling with dough and keep it from spilling out). Sprinkle the top of the mixture with red pepper flakes, parmesan cheese, onion and garlic powder, or whatever seasoning you like.
Take whatever cheese you like (mozzarella, pepper jack, etc. I used swiss this time because that’s what was in my fridge) and lay slices/chunks on top of the pasta mixture.
This was my favorite part. You know how lattice pie crust tops are so pretty? This is the same idea. Make slits on the long edges of the dough, up until the pasta filling in the mixture. (Refer to the photos here if it’s not clear.) Weave the strips alternately on top, tucking the last strips to finish off the loaf.
Beat an egg and brush it onto the top of the bread. Sprinkle the top with parsley, Italian herbs, more onion/garlic powder, or whatever you wish. Slide the entire loaf, parchment paper and all, onto a baking sheet. Put into the preheated oven. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until the egg wash turns golden brown.
Let it cool for a few minutes, slice, and enjoy! I like this served with a side of marinara dipping sauce (since you can’t put too much sauce inside the bread).
Next time, I’ll make this recipe but use more veggies instead of pasta. For a first time, though, the pasta works well because it absorbs the extra moisture from the sauce (helping it to keep the right shape).
I’m also going to try putting fruit pie filling inside, sweetening the dough, and brushing powdered sugar on top. We’ll see how that works.
In other words: Yum.
Hope you enjoy. 😀