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 (about 6 months back actually) 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!
Much after I originally baked this bread, I found that I could make a substitute for sun dried tomatoes by slow drying them in my oven. Since then I have discovered that this bread is excellent with the oven dried 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 may or may not be pleasing depending on your taste. For this reason, this bread is best used in a sandwich.
- 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 (375F) 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!