Heat the oven to 190ºC.
Place the loaf of bread on a board.
Using a very sharp serrated knife, cut the bread, to within a centimetre of its base, into thick (2 cm) slices. Now turn the loaf the other way, and cut across the slices to form a grid. Take your time about this, and use quick, light, sawing motions, pressing the slices you've just cut firmly together.
Melt the butter in a pan set over a medium heat (or in your microwave oven) and stir in the garlic, lemon zest, fresh herbs and pepper.
Squeeze the base of the loaf gently to splay out the 'fingers' of bread and, using a pastry brush or a turkey baster, liberally coat each finger of bread with the flavoured butter.
Brush the top and sides of the bread with more melted butter.
Tie a piece of string or a strand of raffia firmly around the loaf. Put the bread on a baking sheet and place in the oven.Cover lightly with a sheet of tin foil and bake for 10 minutes.
Remove the foil and bake for a further 10 minutes, or until it's beginning to crisp and turn golden.
Take the loaf out of the oven, and crumble the peppered cream cheese over and around the 'fingers' of bread.
Bake for a further five minutes, or until the cheese is hot and beginning to bubble.
Reprinted with permission of Scrumptious South Africa.
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