Sunday, May 27, 2007

Rich Tomato Bread

The weather here in Maryland is finally starting to feel like summer and that means tomatoes!! I have been seeing tomato plants for sale everywhere recently and usually I would be picking some up to plant in my little garden. There is nothing better than fresh-off-the-vine tomatoes. However, this year I have refrained, as the CSA I have joined and that I spoke about a couple of days ago, specializes in tomatoes and in particular, heirloom varieties (at least 12). Therefore, I anticipate getting a lot of tomatoes in our weekly share!! At least, I hope 'em!

I stumbled on the recipe for this bread a week or so ago when I was idly scrolling around on the Cooking Light website....well, to be completely honest, I was dying for this months magazine and was trying to see if it had come out yet. Anyway, I saw a page devoted to tomatoes and checked it out. The recipe sounded so amazing, I knew I just had to try it...and soon. I know most people do not bake bread in the summer for fear of heating up their homes, but I have no such qualms. I love the heat and am perfectly happy to swelter in the kitchen in return for some yummy bread. And let me tell you....this bread is out of this world!!!

Wow...the aroma, the color and last of all the delicious taste of this bread makes it a total winner. This will definitely be made again (multiple times I imagine). It was very easy, which is great for a bread beginner like myself, although as with most breads you need to be able to have time to let it rise etc. However, seeing as my Sunday mostly consisted of chores and reading a great book (Eat, Pray, Live by Elizabeth Gilbert if you must know), the addition of some baking was definitely within the realm of possibility.

This bread smelled so wonderful while it was baking...but really, is there anything better than the smell of fresh baking bread?? I could not help myself. I couldn't wait for this loaf to cool before I hacked into I waited about 10 minutes after it came out of the oven to cool slightly, before I cut of the end piece (my favourite piece of the bread!) and slathered on some goat's cheese I had in the refrigerator and then just savored the wonderful smooth taste of the cheese and the lovely tangy bite of the tomatoes. This was truly can't buy that kind of flavor from a store. I encourage everyone to try this bread. It really is amazing.

The only changes I made were to use a whole jar of sundried tomatoes in oil (I couldn't find the ones without oil). I just drained them into a sieve and rinsed thoroughly in water. I also added some dried basil flakes to the top of the bread before the last rise, to give a nice herby flavor.

Rich Tomato Bread
(Adapted from

1 cup boiling water
1 jar sundried tomatoes packed in oil
1 packet dry yeast
3 1/2 cups bread flour
2 tbs extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp salt
1 egg, beaten
cooking spray
1 tsp dried basil

1. Combine water and tomatoes in a bowl, cover and let stand for 30 minutes.

2. Strain tomatoes, reserving liquid and finely chop. Heat reserved liquid to 110F, transfer to a large bowl and add yeast. Let stand for 5 minutes.

3. Add 3 cups of flour, chopped tomatoes, oil, salt and egg to yeast mixture and stir until a soft dough forms.

4. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead until smooth and elastic, adding the remaining flour a tbs at a time to prevent dough from sticking to hands. Place dough in a large bowl coated with cooking spray, turning to coat top. Cover and let rise for 45 minutes or until double in size.

5. Punch down the dough, cover and let rest for 5 minutes. Roll the dough into a 14"x7" rectangle on a lightly floured surface. Roll up the rectangle, starting with the short edge, pressing firmly to eliminate air pockets. Pinch seam and ends to seal, then place in a loaf pan coated with cooking spray. Lightly spray the dough with cooking spray, sprinkle dried basil, then cover and let rise for 30 minutes.

6. Pre-heat oven to 350F. Uncover dough and bake for 40 minutes or until it sounds hollow when tapped. Remove from the pan and cool on a wire rack.

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