You Say “Tomato”? I Say “Tomato Bread”!

A beautiful loaf with the taste of summer.

With summer tomato season still months away, what’s a tomato lover to do?

Why, indulge in tomato bread instead.

“Pane al Pomodoro” (tomato bread)  is from the newly revised classic, “The Italian Baker” (Ten Speed Press), of which I received a review copy.

San Francisco author Carol Field traversed Italy for two and a half years to write her original version of this book in 1985. Now, it’s been updated with color photography and new equipment sections. Inside, you’ll find recipes for everything from breadsticks to focaccia to tarts and pastries.

This bountiful round loaf is filled with chopped sun-dried tomatoes, so it bakes up with an orange-red crumb and a chewy-crisp crust.

The dough turns almost a salmon color from the chopped sun-dried tomatoes.

You can mix it either by hand, with a mixer or in a food processor.

The olive oil-packed tomatoes give the bread a real richness, too. Sliced, it would make a great foundation for grilled cheese, crisp bacon and creamy avocado, or salty, thin slices of salami piled high with a smear of mustard.

It’s a welcoming taste of summer — a little early.

Top it with a slice of creamy, soft cheese.

Pane al Pomodoro (Tomato Bread)

(Makes 1 round loaf)

1 clove garlic, minced

2 tablespoons finely chopped onion

1 tablespoon oil from oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes

2 1/4 teaspoons (1 package) active dry yeast

1/4 cup warm water

1 cup water, at room temperature (cold if using a food processor)

1/3 cup to 1/2 cup coarsely chopped sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil

3 3/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons salt

1 large egg white, beaten, for glazing

Lightly saute the garlic and onion in the oil; let cool to room temperature.

To mix by hand: Stir yeast into warm water in a large mixing bowl; let stand until creamy, about 10 minutes. Stir in the 1 cup of water and the garlic and onion with the oil; then stir in the tomatoes. Mix the flour and salt and stir 1 cup at a time into the yeast mixture. Knead on a lightly floured surface, sprinkling with 2 to 3 tablespoons of additional flour as needed, until the dough is soft, velvety, and slightly moist, 8 to 10 minutes.

To mix with a mixer: Stir yeast into warm water in a mixer bowl; let stand until creamy, about 10 minutes. Using the paddle, stir in the 1 cup water and the garlic and onion with the oil; then stir in the tomatoes. Stir in the flour and salt. Change to the dough hook and knead until soft, velvety, and elastic, about 3 minutes. The tomatoes will be in distinct chunks.

To mix with a food processor: Stir yeast into the 1/4 cup warm water in a small bowl; let stand until creamy, about 10 minutes. Place flour and salt in a food processor fitted with the steel blade or dough blade and process briefly to sift. Place garlic and onion with the oil and tomatoes on top of the flour. With the machine running, pour the dissolved yeast and the 1 cup of cold water through the feed tube as quickly as the flour can absorb it. Process until the dough comes together. Process 30 seconds longer to knead. The dough will be velvety, elastic, and salmon colored. Finish kneading by hand on a floured surface, if you want.

First Rise: Place dough in a lightly oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let rise until doubled, about 1 hour.

Shaping and Second Rise: Punch the dough down on a lightly floured surface and knead briefly. Shape the dough into a ball. Place on a lightly oiled baking sheet or a peel sprinkled with flour, cover with a towel, and let rise until doubled, about 45 to 55 minutes.

Baking: Preheat oven to 425 degrees. If you are using a baking stone, turn the oven on 30 minutes before baking and sprinkle the stone with cornmeal just before sliding the loaf onto it. Make three parallel slashes on top of the loaf with a razor. Brush top with egg white. Bake 10 minutes, spraying the oven three times with water. Reduce heat to 375 degrees and bake 25 to 30 minutes longer. Cool completely on a rack.

From “The Italian Baker” by Carol Field


More Bread to Bake: Double Chocolate-Honey Bread

And: Momofuku Milk Bar’s Chinese Sausage Focaccia

And: Cherry Focaccia with Rosemary

And: Raisin, Rosemary, and Cinnamon Focaccia

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