Saturday, February 6, 2010

Tomato Bread

After my very successful first real attempt with yeast last week, I decided to give it another try! This time I wanted to make a bread that would be more suitable for sandwiches. I remembered a tomato bread recipe I had seen in Cooking Light ages ago, and since I had almost a full bag of sun-dried tomatoes in the fridge, I figured it would be perfect. I followed the recipe almost exactly, except I used julienne cut tomatoes instead of tomato halves, and I added 1 tsp of basil. I love the combination of tomatoes and basil! It's best with fresh basil, but it's the I used what I had. My dough needed an extra 20 minutes or so for the first rise. Also, I didn't roll it out. When I took the dough out from its first rise, it was really soft and easy to work with. I just patted it out until it was the right size, and rolled it up from there. And piece of advice - after letting it rise the second time, make sure it is still sealed well. This has happened with both times I've cooked bread lately - I didn't check, and it unrolled slightly while baking. That's okay - it still tastes amazing! This bread has a rich tomato flavor, and is great warm with some butter, or used in a sandwich. And it's so easy to make!

Sun Dried Tomato Bread: (adapted from Cooking Light)
1 cup boiling water
~3 oz sun-dried tomato, in a bag (not packed in oil)
1 packet active dry yeast (about 2 1/4 tsp)
3 1/2 cups bread flour, divided
2 tbsp extravirgin olive oil
1 tsp salt
1 tsp dried basil
1 large egg
Cooking spray/oil
Melted butter (optional)

Combine boiling water and tomatoes in a small bowl. Cover and let stand 30 minutes. Drain tomato mixture through a sieve into a bowl, reserving the soaking water. Finely chop the tomatoes. Heat the water to 100-110 F (should feel warm, not hot, to the touch). Place water in a large bowl and add yeast. Let stand 5 minutes, until you see bubbles at the surface. (If you don't see bubbles after 10 minutes, then either your yeast isn't working or your water was too hot. You'll have to start with a new packet of yeast and new water. Unfortunately, you won't have the tomato flavored water, so I don't know how this will affect the bread.) Add 3 cups of the flour, tomatoes, oil, salt, basil and egg to the yeast mixture. Stir until a soft dough forms. Turn dough out onto a floured surface. (At this point, if you you don't keep your place really warm, heat some water in the microwave for 10 minutes. This will be where you let the dough rise. Don't open the microwave until the dough is ready.) Knead dough until smooth and elastic, about 8 minutes. Add enough of remaining 1/2 cup of flour, 1 tbsp at a time, to prevent dough from sticking to hands. Place dough in an oiled large bowl, turning to coat.

Cover, and let rise either in a warm, draft-free place, or in your microwave, for 45 minutes (or until doubled in size). (Gently press two fingers into the dough. If indentation remains, dough has risen enough.) Punch dough down, cover, and let rest 5 minutes. Roll dough into a 14x7-inch rectangle on a lightly floured surface.

Roll up rectangle tightly, starting with a short edge, pressing firmly to eliminate air pockets (maybe this was my problem with my cinnamon raisin bread!). Pinch seam and ends to seal. Place roll, seam side down, in a 9x5-inch loaf pan coated with cooking spray.

Cover and let rise 30 minutes or until doubled in size. (If using microwave again, heat water while rolling dough.) Preheat oven to 350 F. Uncover dough; bake at 350 F for 40 minutes or until loaf is browned on bottom and sounds hollow when tapped. (note - how can you tell if it's browned on the bottom if you're not using a glass pan? food for thought) Remove from pan and cool on a wire rack. If desired, brush with melted butter.
* Because of my temperamental oven, I cooked it at 325 F for 30 minutes.

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