Tomato and Basil Bread

It’s been a long week and I need something a little different and exciting in my life. This tomato and basil loaf will hopefully do the trick if you’re in the same boat as me. You wouldn’t expect a bread to have a strong tomato flavor, but I’m telling you it works and will put a smile on your face, for sure.

Today, I thought it would be fun to make a bread that instead of water, uses the liquid from tomatoes (yes, tomato juice, but I thought if I said tomato juice, you’d think of those cans of tomato juice that you use when making Bloody Mary’s…maybe I over thought that one…). I don’t know why, but trying out something weird like this just sounded fun and I decided to go with it. This recipe is a really simple one; just a little something different to get me out of a funk after a long, mundane workweek.

I really like the flavor combination of tomato and basil, so that’s what I used in this recipe, but you could just as easily substitute the basil for garlic or oregano, or whatever else your creative spirit has in mind.

If you make this according to my directions, you’ll end up with a nicely crusted loaf because I like to have a crispy layer on the outside of my bread. Crusty bread might not be your jam though, and that’s okay, instead of baking it for 45 minutes, simply lower the baking time by 10 minutes. And Voila! No hard crust!

Baking is all about enjoying yourself and having fun, so if you’re in a bit of a foul mood when you start out, you should be smiling (or at least not as grumpy) by the time your creation comes out of the oven. If you’re not, you’ve gotta bake something else and wait for the baking fairies’ magic to kick in.

I hope you enjoy this fun recipe:)

Tomato and Basil Bread:

Makes 1 large loaf

Ingredients:

  • 500g white bread flours
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 7g (1 pkg) instant dried yeast
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 310ml juice from ripe tomatoes
  • 2 tbs water
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil, minced, or 2 1/2 tbs dried basil

Directions:

Step 1: Combine the yeast, sugar, and tomato juice in a large bowl. (If you have yeast that needs to be activated, leave out the tomato juice for the time being and pour in 60ml of warm water to the bowl. Let this mixture prove for about 5 minutes until the mixture is foamy. Then add in the tomato juice minus 60ml (250ml) and oil.

Step 2: Add the basil, salt, and flour to the bowl and mix together with your hands until all the flour has been incorporated and the dough is starting to pull away from the sides of the bowl. It will be one sticky mass. Let sit for 20 minutes at room temperature.

Step 3: After the 20 minutes are up, knead the dough for about 10-15 minutes on a lightly floured surface. It should feel elastic and smooth by the time you are finished. Place the dough in a large, lightly oiled bowl. Cover the dough with a damp tea towel or plastic wrap and let rise on the counter for 1-1 1/2 hours, until dough has doubled in size.

Step 4: After the dough has risen, shape your dough into a round loaf shape. To shape, dust the top of the dough with a little flour and pull each corner of the dough towards the center. Repeat these folds until the dough feels tight and begins to resist the folds. Flip the dough over and tap it into a round loaf. Place the dough on a baking sheet and cover with a plastic oven bag. Let this prove at room temperature until it has doubled in size, just under an hour. While waiting for it to prove, preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.

Step 5: Lightly dust the top of the dough with flour and using a sharp knife, score a deep cross into the loaf. Bake in the preheated oven or 15 minutes before lowering the temperature to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Bake for another 30 minutes. The loaf will be baked around a total baking time of 35 minutes, but the extra 10 minutes will help to form a great crust on the bread. Take the bread out of the oven and let cool completely before digging in!

Happy baking!:)

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