For Great Garlic Bread, Hydrate Your Garlic Powder First

You can have big, bold garlic flavor without any harshness—if you know how to treat your ingredients.

Published Sept. 3, 2021.

A few weeks ago I was conducting a garlic powder taste test for an upcoming issue of Cook’s Country. Ordinarily we conduct an ingredient taste test by trying several recipes that feature the ingredient we’re tasting. Our archives are loaded with garlic-heavy recipes, but one recipe in particular stood out: Really Good Garlic Bread. When I first saw the title of the recipe I thought, "Isn’t all garlic bread really good?" What I soon found out is that this recipe makes exceptional garlic bread, far and away the most flavorful garlic bread I’ve ever eaten. There are three reasons why:


Garlic bread is simple to make but is often a disappointment to eat, with either too much or too little garlic flavor and bread that’s steamed and unevenly browned. We worked out a recipe that's earned raves from our readers.  

1. Fresh garlic is grated with a rasp-style grater until it’s a paste and then microwaved with butter. Using garlic paste, as opposed to minced garlic, allows the garlic to blend easily with the butter, and there aren’t any larger chunks that can burn and taste bitter. Microwaving the garlic paste and the butter together actually tames some of the fresh garlic's harshness, leaving a roasty, sweet garlic flavor.

2. This recipe uses fresh garlic and garlic powder. By combining two sources of garlic flavor, the bread has a balanced bold, sweet, and nutty roasted garlic flavor without the time-consuming process of actually roasting garlic.

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3. Garlic powder is mixed with water before it’s used. Even if you don’t use our recipe, take this tip with you: Garlic powder straight from the jar has not developed its full flavor (though it still offers underlying garlic flavor for dishes to which it’s added). When garlic is dehydrated to make garlic powder, the two compounds that react to produce the primary flavor component in garlic exist in an inactive state.

So instead of sprinkling dry garlic powder, consider “waking it up” by hydrating it with water (use equal amounts of garlic powder and water). This activates the compounds alliin and alliinase, which in turn create the compound allicin. Translation: big, complex flavors for some of the best garlic bread you’ve ever tried.

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