Right now, every person in America is making sourdough. But not I! As a food writer and former professional baker, there is some sort of societal expectation for me to keep a sourdough starter, and that’s exactly why I refuse to do it. I don’t need society telling me that I ought to raise a yeast baby—I already have enough things I’m trying to keep alive in my house, and I do not need another. Plus, if I went to the trouble of feeding, loving, and financially supporting a starter, certain people (my children) would expect fresh bread and sourdough waffles all the time and, frankly, I don’t need that kind of pressure. I am a powdered yeast kinda gal, and I shall not apologize for it.
In addition to having no time for a sourdough starter, currently I do not have the bandwidth for any sort of bread where there are many hours in between the moment I decide I want to eat bread and the moment I’m actually eating it. No heritage grains, 36-hour proofs, or any sort of fancy yeasty mumbo jumbo. At this very peculiar time in human history, the list of breads I would like to eat reads as follows:
- Garlic bread
- Cheesy garlic bread
- That’s it
This is why the only bread I’ve been baking for the past three weeks has been garlic- and olive-oil-drenched focaccia, which comes together in less than two hours, start to finish. It’s everything I hoped for and everything I need.
Now that my family and I are living a more garlic-bread-forward diet, we’ve found new and exciting ways to work garlic bread into our daily lives. I started daydreaming about steak fries, but instead of potatoes, they were little tiny loaves of garlic bread. I cut up some of my beloved focaccia, threw it in the air fryer (because why wouldn’t I), and out came a bunch of crunchy garlic breadsticks. They were good, but not fries, so I went back to the drawing board and built a better focaccia: In addition to all-purpose flour, I also use some pre-gelatinized instant flour, which helps the dough stay moist and springy. What comes out of the air fryer is crispy on the outside and just the right amount of soft on the inside to give you the full garlic bread experience.
If you’d like, you can double this recipe so you can use one focaccia to make fries and the other to make sandwiches. You can even make a third for bread salad, and a fourth just for emergencies. This recipe will assure you that it’s fine if you’re not cut out for that sourdough starter life. When you have garlic bread, you have everything.
- 6 Tbsp. olive oil, divided
- 2 3/4 cup flour
- 3/4 cup instant (Wondra) flour
- 2 tsp. salt
- 1 Tbsp. dried yeast (either active dry or instant—just follow the instructions for either one)
- 1 1/2 cups warm water
- 1/4 cup shredded Parmesan
- 1 1/2 tsp. oregano
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tsp. kosher salt
Add 3 tablespoons of olive oil to a 9-by-13 pan and spread it all over the bottom and sides.
Pour the remaining olive oil, flour, instant flour, salt, yeast, and warm water in the bowl of a stand mixer affixed with the paddle attachment. Mix on medium speed for 90 seconds to make a soft dough, then plop it into the oiled pan. Grease your hands with a drop of olive oil and stretch the dough out to the edges, then pat it down so the top is even, cover with plastic wrap, and set in a warm place to rise for one hour.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Mix together the Parmesan, oregano, minced garlic, and kosher salt, and sprinkle over the focaccia. Bake until golden brown, about 40 minutes.
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 1 1/2 Tbsp. garlic powder
- 1 Tbsp. kosher salt
- 2/3 cup finely grated Parmesan
- 1/2 cup finely chopped parsley
Once the focaccia is fully cool, use a large serrated knife to split it horizontally, place both halves cut side up, the cut into quarters.
Whisk the olive oil, garlic powder, and kosher salt together; brush over the cut focaccia, then sprinkle on 1/3 cup grated Parmesan and gently press it into the bread. Flip over, repeat, and then cut each bread quarter into thick, fry-sized batons.
Preheat the air fryer to 400. Working in batches if necessary, cook the fries for 5-6 minutes, giving them a good shake about halfway through, until golden brown. Remove directly to a large bowl and toss with finely chopped parsley and additional Parmesan, if desired. Serve hot with a side of your favorite tomato sauce for dipping. (Here’s my recipe, if you’re looking for a good one!)