I am such a bread addict and I am always playing around with flavours that excite me for breads that I make. High summer in each mouthful, this is a very full-flavoured bread that is seriously easy to eat!
I sometimes replace the tomatoes with a couple of roasted red peppers that have been peeled and crushed. I have also been known to make up a large batch of roasted tomatoes, pepper and garlic, using some of this in the bread and popping the rest in a jar, covered in oil and kept in the fridge for up to a couple of weeks: this is great for an instant savoury addition to other bread doughs or mixing with beaten eggs and a little cream for a quick quiche filling. Or used for pizza…..it is so versatile!
I often make a sourdough version of this bread: the deep flavour of the sourdough with those amazing roasted flavours is sublime. For a sourdough version, I would use about 200g starter (and omit the yeast!) – and let patience take over while it rises wonderfully slowly.
I tend to make these into mini loaves (as in the pictures) or rolls, but you can make two larger loaves, which are stunning when sliced to make sandwiches more special: particularly good for an Afternoon Tea.
Sun-dried tomato & basil bread (makes about 12-14 rolls or two large loaves)
- 500g strong plain flour
- 10g fine sea salt
- 6g easy-blend yeast
- 250-300ml water
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- handful fresh basil, chopped
- about 15 sun-dried tomatoes in oil, drained well
- 1 heaped tablespoon tomato purée
- 80g Emmental cheese, finely grated
- sea salt and freshly milled black pepper
(1) Mix the flour, yeast and salt in a bowl. Add the oil, basil and most of the water and mix to form a soft dough. Add more water if necessary. Knead for about 10 minutes until smooth and elastic. Cover the bowl with clingfilm and leave the dough to rise until doubled in size.
(2) While the dough is rising, finely chop the sun-dried tomatoes and add to the tomato purée. Crush to a coarse paste with the flat surface of the knife. Alternatively, put them into a blender and pulse.
(3) Knead the risen dough for a few more minutes and cut about one third off. Mix this piece with the tomato mixture and about half of the cheese – it will all come together with some firm squishing with perhaps some oil. Don’t worry about it being a lot stickier than the other piece. NB: you can make this bread just by spreading the chopped tomato and tomato purée over the whole amount of rolled-out dough without mixing the purée with some of the dough first. However, it is nice adding the purée to some of the dough as it adds body and flavour to the overall bread.
(4) Take the plain piece of dough and pat or roll it into a large, thin rectangle. Pat the tomato dough on top of the plain dough, leaving a small border along the longest edges. Roll up tightly and leave the seal underneath. Alternatively, knead the two pieces together until they are just incorporated before shaping.
(5) Gently roll the dough along its length until fairly smooth: doing this on a lightly floured surface is easiest. Cut to size and put them in mini loaf tins, or place on a baking sheet. Sprinkle with the rest of the cheese.
(6) Cover and leave to rise until well risen. Bake for 15-20 minutes in an oven pre-heated to 220C.