You Say Tomato…

3 Apr

Looks like a normal enough loaf of bread, no?

Tomato Bread

Perfectly normal. Golden. Round. Bready.

But take a closer look…

Tomato Bread

Hard to tell, but something might be amiss. Here, let’s compare…

Nigel's Loaf

Whoa. Looks like that top loaf’s been hanging out with the Oompa-Loompas!

No, no, no. No fake baking here! That loaf is chock full of lycopeney love. It’s real, honest to goodness, home-baked Tomato Bread that is!

It’s an idea that’s been floating around in my head for many months after I saw it over on Sher’s site back in November. I think one of the reasons I tackled bread making at all was so I could try my hand at that ‘mater loaf and her Salsa Bread. I mean, look at that loaf, with the veins of cheese? Yum.

So when life threw me an unexpected day at home I made bread. It was an adaptation of Nigel’s Really Good & Very Easy Bread, but with a few twists; one intended, one not-so-intended.

The first twist was to use tomato powder. I originally found this in tiny little jars at O&Co. but have since found it in giant bags at Kalustyan’s. It’s just dehydrated tomatoes, kind of like tomato paste in powder form, but easier to store and easily ordered online. The one drawback is that the powder tends to clump, a problem easily solved with a quick trip through a nifty sifter like this one.

The second “twist” can only be chalked up to distraction. I knew the recipe called for 4 cups of flour, of which I wanted to do 1 1/2 cups white whole wheat to 2 1/2 cups AP flour. But no, I added 2 1/2 cups whole wheat flour and felt the need to add more AP flour to try and salvage the taste. I didn’t want the loaf to taste too healthy.

I conveyed this to the boy when he got home and he suggested he have a sign made for the kitchen that says, “Pay attention while you’re making bread!” I imagine it would look a lot like the sign my grandfather made that he hung over the kitchen door that said “Kwitcherbellyachin’.” Sigh. Maybe I’m just not cut out for this whole baking thing…

Tomato Bread

But then again, maybe I am! Because the bread still turned out delicious! It’s sweet and savory and not overly tomato-y. In fact, it’s kind of mysterious. I bet it would be beyond perfect with some Kalamata olives kneaded into the dough. Or maybe some basil… The possibilities are endless.

But what to eat with it? Fresh mozzarella of course! We haven’t found any place in the new ‘hood that can even approximate the transcendental bliss that is a ball of love from DiPalo’s, but the stuff they make at Cangiano’s isn’t half bad.

Tomato Bread

Thinly slice the mozzarella and place one layer on a thick slice of Tomato Bread. Salt lightly. Drizzle a wee bit of the very best extra virgin olive oil over the cheese. Pop a few fresh basil leaves on top of that, and a few leaves of arugula on top of that to make a leafy, open-faced sandwich. A thin slice of jamon or prosciutto would be wonderful as well.

Eat with abandon.

Head below the jump for the recipe for Tomato Bread.

Tomato Bread

prep time: 10 minutes + 2 hours rising time ~ cooking time: 45-50 minutes

  • 1 packet Active Dry Yeast
  • 4 tsps Salt
  • 2 tbsps well sifted Tomato Powder
  • 2 1/2 c White Whole Wheat Flour
  • 2 c AP Flour + more for kneading/dusting
  • 3+ c lukewarm Water
  • Olive Oil
  • Cornmeal

Pour a small glug of olive oil into your favorite rising bowl and set aside.

In another bowl add the yeast, salt, tomato powder, white whole wheat flour and AP flour. Mix well to incorporate. Begin adding the water bit by bit until a nice, sticky dough is achieved.

Lightly flour your work surface and begin kneading the dough. Add more flour as necessary and knead for at least 10 minutes until a light, springy, elastic dough is achieved.

Place in the oiled bowl and turn over so both sides are coated. Cover with a thick towel and set aside in a warm place to rise for one hour.

Preheat the oven to 500°F.

Dust a baking sheet with a healthy handful of cornmeal.

Tip the dough back out onto your floured work surface and knead for an additional 2-3 minutes. Shape the dough into a nice ball and place on the corn meal on the baking sheet. Dust with more cornmeal, kinda wipe it off and pat it in a bit. Cover with the towel and place back in the warm place to rise for another hour.

After the hour if the dough has spread too much, delicately tuck it back into a nice loaf shape. Place the baking sheet in the oven and gently close the door.

Allow to bake 10 minutes.

Turn the heat down to 425°F and allow to bake an additional 25-30 minutes. The bread is done when it sounds hollow when rapped on its bottom.

Move to a rack and allow to cool as long as possible.

When as long as possible is past, cut into thick slices and enjoy!

This would be amazing bread for BLTs!

12 Responses to “You Say Tomato…”

  1. Lydia April 3, 2007 at 10:05 am #

    Oooh, tomato powder. Now that’s something I have to add to my pantry. This bread looks absolutely fabulous. I must try it!

  2. jenblossom April 3, 2007 at 10:50 am #

    Swoon!

  3. Terry B April 3, 2007 at 2:02 pm #

    So many comments colliding in my head, thanks to this post. First, tomato powder—must find it, must experiment. Second, when I started reading, I was immediately reminded of the fact that, as a kid, we were always eating biscuits and gravy at home. Sometimes, for a change of pace, my mom would make gravy with canned tomatoes mixed in—not a lot, but enough to give the gravy an interesting tomatoey tang—and some of the mystery you said your bread has. Mystery is a big plus in recipes for me.

    And finally, that sandwich is to die for, especially with a little prosciutto added.

  4. ann April 3, 2007 at 2:25 pm #

    Lydia — I would highly recommend it. I think you especially would love it. It’s really useful, tasty, versatile stuff. Great to throw in chilis and stews and curries, and WONDERFUL for making rubs for meat with. It turns the meat a ridiculously deep, burnished looking mahogany.

    jenblossom — ;-)

    TerryB — wow, that is a lot of comments!! Glad to help bring them all together. I wish I had thought to have some proscuitto on hand, but well, I didn’t. I hope your move is going well!

  5. Virginia April 3, 2007 at 9:14 pm #

    I am amazed at how far you’ve travelled down the glorious path of bread these past few months. Man may not live by bread alone, but if we are going to try, it might as well be the good stuff. Thanks for the inspiration!

  6. Terry B April 3, 2007 at 10:56 pm #

    Thanks, Ann. The move is going as moves go. But I have managed to get into the new kitchen and actually post a recipe.

  7. Mary April 4, 2007 at 9:05 am #

    I am so in love with this idea. And thanks so much for the tomato powder link. I’ve been obsessing over the idea of vegetable, herb and fruit powders and searching for a dehydrator with which to make them. Just knowing that for now I can get something similar through mail order calms me down a little. Not like it’s at an OCD hyper food geek level or anything, it’s just, well, I probably don’t need to explain myself on a food blog, I’m sure you get it. So, thanks again.

  8. Luisa April 4, 2007 at 10:55 am #

    Tomato powder? This tomato-fanatic is totally stumped. How have I have never heard of the stuff? Must. Get. To. Kalustyans. NOW. (Lovely-looking bread, by the way. And your sandwich sounds yummy. I’m imagining the bread would be delicious with all kinds of things: roast beef with capers, toasted cheddar cheese, oooh, the possibilities!)

  9. s'kat April 4, 2007 at 11:04 am #

    Tomato powder? Never heard of it, but looks like I’ll also be tracking it down!

    Your bread is gorgeous… I’ll bet it will make great toasted sandwiches or croutons!

  10. Mary April 4, 2007 at 3:08 pm #

    I’m checking back in on the tomato powder. I wasn’t able to find it on the Kalustyan’s web-site, but I found that and other interesting powders (spinach, mushroom, cheddar cheese!) at Barry Farm Foods through amazon.com. I spent too much money, but I’m sure it’s going to be worth it. Thanks Ann. S’kat, the idea for croutons is great.

  11. ann April 4, 2007 at 4:18 pm #

    Virgina — thanks! You know your experience has helped bring about this bread baking revolution!

    Luisa — I hope they still have it, I’m nearly out! It’s amazing stuff to have just lying about. The roast beef with capers sandwich is an inspired idea!

    s’kat — as is your croutons suggestion! What an idea! I might have to try this tonight… if I can keep the boy away from the rest of the loaf

    Mary — that’s really odd… I hope they’re still carrying it. Maybe I’ll give them a ring. Wow, can you imagine mushroom bread? I think I just swooned a little at the thought.

  12. FrenchLaundryAtHome April 21, 2007 at 3:22 pm #

    Wow. Just wow.

    Toasted with an egg on top for breakfast? I have to make that. Now.

    (love the site, btw) :)

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