Heat the oven to 190 degrees C. Using a sharp serrated knife, cut the bread into 2 cm slices to within 2 cm of its base. Now turn the loaf the other way around and, using quick, light sawing motions, cut across the slices to form a grid.
Mix together the melted butter, garlic, lemon zest, fresh herbs and pepper. Gently squeeze the base of the loaf to splay the crags and, using a brush or a baster, coat each one with flavoured butter. Brush the bread all over with more melted butter and tie a piece of damp string or raffia around its middle. Cover with foil and bake for 10 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for a further 10 minutes, or until the bread is golden brown and crisp. Crumble over the cheese and bake for a further 5 minutes. Remove the string and serve hot.
Cook’s note: Add anything you fancy to the melted mutter: dried chilli flakes, pounded anchovies, finely chopped olives, grated Parmesan and so on. Prepare the garlic bread for baking up to 24 hours ahead.
Extracted from “Scrumptious Food for Family & Friends” by Jane-Anne Hobbs (Random House Struik).