Over the last few weeks, I have been experimenting with different bread recipes. I have been combining different types of flour, different seed combinations, finding interesting ways to flavour the crust.. it has been a lot of fun. Last week, I made a Paul Hollywood inspired sun dried tomato and black olive bread (I intend to get this published on Love the kitchen in due course), today I wanted to focus on just tomato.
Not only did I want to work on texture, I was also very keen to adapt the colour. This was destined to be a tomato-flavoured bread, it was fitting to to try and get a natural colour to the dough, without the use of artificial food colouring. Knowing how well tomato goes with oregano in many pizza recipes, I decided to sprinkle a small amount on the crust as a finishing touch. The end result is a far from snappy titled Sun-dried tomato bread with oregano and sea salt crust.
If interested, sun-dried tomatoes (as the name implies) are tomatoes which have lost most of their water content due to being dried in the sun. You need very few for this recipe, and if concerned by the price, consider that it takes between 8 – 14 kilos to make just 1 kilo in its dried form. I buy them dry-packed – you may also find this in oil, and other ingredients and herbs may be added.
Sun dried tomato bread with an oregano and sea salt crust.
- 500 g Strong White Flour
- 7 g fast action yeast
- 1 tsp sea salt
- 1 tsp caster sugar
- 275 ml warm water
- 3 x tbsp tomato purée, or sun-dried tomato paste for a stronger flavour
- 3 x tbsp olive oil
- 50 g 2oz sun-dried tomatoes, cut into thin strips
- coarse sea salt, such as Gros Sel de Guérande
- 1 x tsp dried oregano, and extra to sprinkle on the crust
- Combine all the dry ingredients (flour, yeast, salt, dried oregano and sugar)in a large mixing bowl, and mix thoroughly using a bell whisk. Personally, I find this works far more effectively than using a spoon.
- Measure out 3 tbsp tomato purée/ sun-dried tomato paste into a measuring jug, then add hot (from the tap) water to the 275ml line. Mix well using a mini-whisk. Next, add 3 tbsp of olive oil to the mixture and stir thoroughly. It may not look too appealing, but this has no bearing on the final outcome.
- Next, create a well in the middle of the mixture and slowly pour about one-third of the liquid. Using a silicone spatula or wooden spoon, start to fold the dry ingredients into the liquid. Then, gradually add the liquid, and keep folding together until a dough ball is formed. The colour will change to a light terracotta/salmon colour due to the tomato purée. Remove the dough from the mixing bowl, and knead for 5 minutes or so until the texture is no longer sticky, yet still elastic. You may need to sprinkle additional flour during this process, so keep some at hand.
- Oil the same mixing bowl (saves washing up) with a small amount of olive oil, then return kneaded dough ball, cover with a tea towel or cling film for 1 hour, and allow to rise.
- The dough should have doubled in size (maybe a little more). Remove the dough and flatten. Then, start to sprinkle the thin slices of sun-dried tomatoes (I try to keep as much space between the sliced for a more even distribution in the loaf itself). Fold the dough towards the middle, flatten again, then keep repeating until all the sun-dried tomatoes have been used up. Knead the dough ball for a couple of minutes, then mould into an oval shape and place on a baking tray. (Tip: I use a silicone non-stick baking sheet to line a baking tray and have been very happy with with the results).
- Cover again with a tea towel, and allow to rise prove for a further hour.
- Preheat the oven to 200C. Optionally, and to maintain a softer crust, pour 2 x cups of water into a tall-sided baking tray and put this in the bottom of the oven. As the oven heats up, as will the water. The purpose is to create a gentle steam, which in turn will result in a softer crust.
- Uncover the loaf, and score the top using a sharp blade into diagonal lines, about 2-3cm apart. Gently brush or spray olive oil over the top. Then, sprinkle on top a combination of sea salt (my favourite is Gros Sel de Guérande) - a natural coarse grey sea salt) dried oregano, and gently press them into the top of the dough with the palm of your hand.
- Bake in the oven for 30 mins. Once cooked, tun onto a wire rack and allow to cool. If you want to maintain an even softer crust, cover with a tea towel whilst the loaf cools down.
- Enjoy. Great on its own, or why not try with home-made Chickpea hummus?