"You should blog about the cheesy bread," he says. He's been saying this for months now. (Sometimes I think he should get his own damn blog. He doesn't like taking photos though, so it'll never happen.)
He's right about the cheesy bread being awesome, though. Maybe it is a little cruel of me to have been so lazy about blogging about it -- all these months, you could have been making delicious garlicky cheesy bread, if only I had gotten my act together sooner.
Our cheesy bread experiments were inspired by the delicious cheesy toasts the Crepe and Brioche bakery sells at their stand at the San Mateo Farmer's Market. Sometimes they use olive bread for the base, sometimes they use their flaxseed levain, sometimes they use their regular dark levain. They are all delicious. The cheesy topping is nicely browned, never greasy, and with a nice warm infusion of garlic flavor. To reproduce it at home, we decided the way to go would be to use a bechamel sauce as a base, then add tons of good cheese and garlic. This creates a spreadable gooey cheesy sauce which isn't greasy, as so many melted cheese goodies are.
8 slices crusty bread (toast the bread if you are going to be preparing all of the slices at once on a sheet pan. If you are going to prepare only a couple of slices at a time in a toaster oven, you can omit this step.)
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon flour
1/2 cup whole milk
2 large cloves garlic
3 1/2 ounces shredded cheese*
1/4 cup grated parmesan, or to taste
salt and pepper (preferably white pepper, if you have it) to taste
*For the cheese, use whatever suits your fancy; I always use at least two. Gouda, madrigal, and gruyere are some of my favorites. If I use a very dry hard cheese, like a very aged gouda or cheddar, I try to balance it with something more moist, like madrigal or monterey jack.
If you are going to be making the toast in the oven under the broiler, arrange the toasted slices on a sheet pan and preheat your broiler.
Melt the butter in a small pot on medium heat until it is foamy. Pull it off the heat to whisk in the flour, then return to the heat and cook until the flour no longer smells raw. Drizzle in the milk, whisking vigorously to prevent lumps. The mixture will thicken. Using a garlic press, crush the two garlic cloves and add them to the mixture. Stir in the cheese. Add the parmesan a little at a time -- if the other cheeses you are using are very salty, you may not want to add too much of this. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Spread the cheese mixture on the bread slices. Place under the broiler and cook until the cheese turns brown and bubbly -- this takes only a couple of minutes with a very hot broiler, so watch your toast carefully! Serve warm.