August 31, 2009

Tomato Bread With Fresh Basil

This month's theme for Bread Baking Day is "Something you've never made before". I guess it couldn't get easier than this for me as I can think of a whole lot of breads I haven't baked before and many more I haven't even heard of yet! The only difficulty here would be choosing which "not baked before" bread to bake!!

I recently (well, about 6 months back!) acquired some bread baking books and decided this would be the perfect opportunity to bake something from one of them. I chose to bake the Tomato Bread With Fresh Basil from Bread For All Seasons by Beth Hensperger.

As the title suggests, this book is all about baking bread according to the seasons. So the author has divided the book into chapters, one for each month. Each month's bread recipes are either related to festivities in that month or use some ingredients which are abundantly available during that month.

I chose August naturally and I guess it's the month for tomatoes in the U.S. Here, in India, we see tomatoes throughout the year so tomato bread it was.

Fellow food blogging friends, Deeba and Arundati, were nice enough to send me some basil seeds earlier this month. Deeba also sent me some basil plants which are thriving despite the 1000km journey by courier. Some basil I brought back during my previous trip home is also flourishing so bread with basil seemed a natural conclusion.
I adapted the recipe in the book to work around some of the ingredients I didn't have on hand.

The original recipe asks for sun-dried tomatoes, which isn't something we get here. The one time I tried to sun-dry some tomatoes, the sun did a bunk on me and I ended up growing "stuff" on my tomatoes which could have interested only a student of biology, perhaps!
So it will be another 4 to 5 months when I can depend on the sun to dry the heck out of my tomatoes.

And a few words of caution before you make this bread. It can be a bit of an acquired taste and not quite the thing if you're not very fond of tomatoes. If your tomatoes (or tomato juice) are a bit on the sour side, your bread will have a bit of a tang which can (or will not) be pleasing depending on your taste. For this reason, this bread is best used in a sandwich.


1 cup tomato juice (fresh or canned)

1 tbsp tomato paste

1 tbsp brown sugar

1 1/2 tbsp olive oil

1/2 tbsp active dry yeast

1 cup whole wheat flour

1 to 1 1/4 cups all purpose flour

2 to 3 tbsp chopped fresh basil leaves

1/2 tbps chilli flakes

1 tsp salt

coarse cornmeal or semolina for dusting

milk (or egg wash) for glazing

nigella seeds for sprinkling (optional)


As usual, I used my food processor but you can knead the dough by hand.

Put the whole wheat flour, 1 cup of all purpose flour, salt, brown sugar, olive oil, basil leaves and the yeast into the food processor bowl. Run a couple of times to blend.
Now add the tomato juice and paste (and a couple of tbsps of water if necessary) and process until a thick, shaggy mass forms which just clears the side of the bowl.

Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured board and knead the dough well, adding a little flour, till the dough is smooth and elastic.
Place the dough in an oiled bowl, turning it to coat with the oil, and allow it to rise till double in volume (about 2 hours).

Gently deflate the dough, and divide it into 3 equal portions. Using your palms, roll each portion into a rope that is 12" long. Braid the three "ropes" into a loaf, tucking the ends underneath. Alternatively, just shape the dough into a plain loaf.

Place in greased and dusted (with cornmeal or semolina) loaf tin, cover loosely and allow the dough to rise until even with rim of the tin (about 45 minutes). Brush the surface with milk or eggwash. Sprinkle with nigella seeds, if using.
Bake at 190C for about 30 to 40 minutes till light brown in colour and the loaf sounds hollow when tapped. Cool on a rack.
This recipe makes one small loaf, which makes excellent tomato-mayonnaise or cheese and vegetable sandwiches.

This is my entry for BBD #23 being hosted by Imafoodblog this month and also for Andrea's Grow Your Own. This bread is also being YeastSpotted!


Several tips said...

Your blog is very cool.

Chitra said...

Delicious , soft & moist..!!

Vrunda said...

Stumbled on your blog while searching for bread recipes. You bake such nice breads with different flavours. will sure visit again.

♥♥♥Ria♥♥♥ said...

It seems like you were a bread baker in your previous birth! :P You are really on a bread baking spree!!

It looks delicious! I am waiting for my basil to grow now, all thanks to lovely Deeba!

Indhu said...

I just spent a large part of yesterday browsing thorugh your blog for bread recipes... lots of delicious ones and you are back with one more... tomato bread looks lovely :)

Nilambara said...

Lovely loaf Aparna! Just like all the other breads you have here. I've noticed that you use flax seed powder as egg-replacer in alot of your recipes. Can you enlighten me more about this wonderful ingredient and where can I find it?


Andrea's Recipes (Grow Your Own) said...

Yes, this would make an excellent bread for sandwiches, and it looks wonderful. Thanks for joining us for Grow Your Own!

Sharmila said...

What a wonderful idea ... Tomato bread! Tomato flavour with basil is usually associated with pasta! :-) Am sure this bread tastes great.

Divya Kudua said...

You are truly on a bread baking spree..:).

I am planning to bake your apricot bread soon,but Chennai climate since past two days is quite cool and I am not sure if the bread will 'rise' wnough for the;).So I'll wait for a while.

Tomatoes in bread sounds interesting:)

sra said...

"The one time I tried to sun-dry some tomatoes, the sun did a bunk on me and I ended up growing "stuff" on my tomatoes which could have interested only a student of biology, perhaps!
So it will be another 4 to 5 months when I can depend on the sun to dry the heck out of my tomatoes." - LOL! Made nice reading.

Srivalli said...

Perfect tomato bread...nice pic.

Parita said...

Tomato and basil sounds a delicious combination, the bread looks lovely!

lata raja said...

Love all your breads and bakes. I never dare to try most though. This recipe is interesting.

jayasri said...

love it, looks so good ! thnx for your encouragement and long lasting support in everything dear,

Priti said...

Interesting....looks gud..bookmarked it

Deeba @Passionate About Baking said...

Beautiful loaf Aparna, & am so glad the basil saplings survived the journey. Thank you for putting them to such wonderful use. I've used my basil mainly in pesto & salads. This sounds like a wonderful idea. TY for being part of the 'basil gang'; just blogged about it!

karuna said...

this looks sooo good. I can almost imagine the taste in my mouth with a dab of butter.

Anita said...

I wish my basil was growing :( I've never used basil seeds and never even thought of making a tomato bread... but I can just see how it would work perfectly. I love bread so much and am always looking for new recipes.

Susan from Food Blogga said...

Deeba sent you basil plants? OMG. Is she the kindest woman alive? :) I love her. And you put them to delicious use in this bread. It's one of my favorites!

Bong Mom said...

I don't think i have ever had anything with basil seeds :) Can we use Holy Basil(tulsi) in any cooking, just curious

The loaf of bread looks perfect

Lien said...

a wonderful bread, tomatoes and basil, always a winning combination. How sweet that Deeba sent you basilplants!
They're very easy to grow out of seeds too, outside or inside in pots. Anyway wonderful entry Aparna!

Susan/Wild Yeast said...

Tomatoes and basil are one of the best flavor combinations around. Here in the US, summer is definitely the only season for good tomatoes; how wonderful that you have them year-round.

Julia @ Mélanger said...

I love fruit bread. This one with apricots looks delicious!

Sara said...

This sounds lovely in theory, though I am not a fan of tomatoes so I don't know if I would like this. Good luck sun drying your tomatoes! Thanks for joining us for this month's BBD!

kahliyalogue said...

Aparna,what a lovely combo creating sucha rich tasty bread!I love tomatoes and I love Basil..sounds marvelous!Bytheway,I have recently realised there are several types of Basil,as I am currently growing a bit of a anis flavoured basil,which I cant seem to find its name.Do you know it by any chance?
Thanx for such a Lovely bread,I definitely would like to try this.. :) Mia

Aparna said...

Thank you Vrunda and Indhu. I just like baking bread very much.

Bread baker in my previous birth? That's a nice thought, Ria. :)

It is normally used in cookies and cakes to replace one or two eggs. Not good for more than this, as the baked goods become dense. I do not know any other name for this but it is usually available in either grocery shops or the supermarkets along with whole grains.

Divya, I don't think Chennai climate is ever too cool for bread not to rise. :)
I thought you were in B'lore?

You're welcome, Jayasri.

Deeba, thanks a million for those plants. I have even passed on the seeds to a friend here. And love being in the Basil gang. :)

Anita, this is the perfect chance to start then. :)

Yeah, Susan. Love her too.:)

Sandeepa, you should. A lot of Italian cooking uses basil. You could try using Holy Basil (its edible), but I never have.

Yes Lien, I'm finding out how well they grow. My pots are overflowing!

I don’t know too much about basil myself. I have three types of basil. One is Thai basil, another one is Lemon basil and a third that we grown in India called “Rama Thulasi” but I don’t know what it is in English. It is not Holy Basil.