Caramelising garlic last weekend I reflected on how often this ingredient has made an appearance in recent times. Two years ago, visiting our friend Liliane, who lives in a tiny village in the hills of Languedoc, I offered to make lunch. Now Liliane assures us that she is currently well on the way to having a proper working kitchen, but at that time the only 'work surface' was the top of the washing machine. However, little things like that don't bother me (I made bread on an upturned cool box last year, but that's another story). So, taking inspiration from Yotam Ottolenghi's book 'Plenty', I caramelised three whole bulbs of garlic, added local herbs and goats' cheese and made a huge tart. Frankly delicious, it established a reputation that means I can never again have a holiday there free from baking.
Early 2013 saw the return of the caramelised garlic and goats' cheese combo, this time as the topping on a rather significant focaccia. As one of my offerings for the very first round of auditions for the Bake Off, it accompanied me (and a blackberry and semolina tart) on a train journey from Sheffield, a savoury aroma making its presence felt at regular intervals.
So when challenged to perk up a gluten-free baguette at the Allergy & Free From Show, I turned again to this faithful retainer. Caramelising garlic gives it a wonderfully sweet and gentle flavour - a soft squeezable whisper of its heavy breathing former self. At the risk of repeating myself, I think it will be around for some time. Oh, and talking of time, it also goes perfectly with lemon thyme.