For the best garlic bread, use softened butter and a generous amount of fresh garlic. We bake the bread wrapped in foil and turn the bread once during baking so that the bottom crust of the loaf does become too hard.
1 loaf French or Italian bread (1 pound)
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened, see notes for using salted butter
1 tablespoon minced fresh garlic (3 to 4 cloves)
1/4 cup finely chopped parsley or basil
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese, optional
1/4 cup shredded parmesan cheese, optional
Set the oven rack to the center position. Heat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
Combine the softened butter, garlic, herbs, salt, and pepper in a small bowl. Use a fork to mix the ingredients together.
Slice the loaf of bread in half, lengthwise. Face the bread halves cut-side-up, and then divide the garlic butter mixture between each half. Spread into an even layer all the way to the edges. Put the bread halves back together and wrap with foil.
Place the wrapped garlic bread onto a baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes. Flip the bread and bake another 5 to 10 minutes or until the butter has melted into the middle of the loaf.
Unwrap the foil then position the bread halves so that the cut-side is facing up. Scatter cheese over the bread then bake, uncovered, until the cheese melts and the edges of the bread crisp up a little, about 5 minutes.
Slice the bread and serve warm. Keep garlic bread warm by wrapping in foil. Or wrap in foil and keep in a warm oven (170 to 200 degrees F).