Tomato and Herbs Bread

Hello bakers! We now know about the Basic Bread, and yeast. Many of you have shared your bread baking experiences on the groups — I’ll be posting all those pictures in our Monday blog.

Today, I thought we’d try something different. I had some cherry tomatoes and an array of fresh herbs courtesy Mira Mishra Ma’am, a keen fellow baker and a generous neighbor. Why not bake a Tomato and Herbs bread? But first, a bit about tomatoes, and why you should consider adding it to your bread!

Tomatoes!? Why tomatoes?

This bread, the ubiquitous “red” ketchup, and almost all the Indian gravies would be sans tomatoes and their savoury flavour, had it not been for the Portuguese explorers who introduced us to ‘this red berry’. Would you believe that there were no ‘tamatars’ in India before the 16th century? Today we are the second largest producer and consumer of tomatoes in the world.

Sure, but why add it to my bread?

I am perpetually experimenting with how to roll out healthy and delicious breads, while keeping the recipes simple and minimalistic. This way my family, my fellow home bakers and especially new bakers can bake healthy breads and make them part of their daily meals.

Cherry tomatoes.

While tomatoes are good for blood pressure, eyes, skin, heart health and blood sugar, fresh herbs are also very good for health as they prevent inflammation, heart disease, tumours, diabetes and blood clots. As the health benefits of tomatoes, fresh herbs and olive oil are well known, and I was already baking bread with some veggies like pumpkin and zucchini, this was next in line. So, I gave it a serious try and what I got was a fragrant, flavourful, fresh and nutritious loaf.

The Recipe

Basil, thyme and parsley!

Ingredients

  • Whole wheat flour – 2 cups (280 gms)
  • Maida – 1 cup (120 gms)
  • Water – 1 cup  (240 ml) 
  • Instant Yeast – 2 tsp . If using Active dry yeast do prove it. (See the yeast blog)
  • Honey – 2 tsp
  • Salt – 1 tsp
  • Olive oil – ¼ cup (50 ml) for the dough
  • Cherry tomatoes, whole -1 cup (150 gms)
  • Roughly chopped fresh herbs such as basil, thyme, parsley ⅓ cup (else mixed dry herbs – 1 tbsp)
  • Baking soda – 1 pinch

Step 1

Add some olive oil to the tomatoes and roast them in an oven preheated to 200℃ for about 15 minutes. Cool and puree or mash well.

Step 2

Mix all the dry ingredients and sift the flour well, as aeration helps in baking good structured breads. Do not add salt now, as it interferes with the activity of yeast. We will add it later.

Step 3

Add honey, fresh herbs and olive oil and gradually add water to mix the dough with hands or a spatula. Keep it aside for ½ an hour if you are not in a hurry. This process is called autolyse. It helps in breaking down the enzymes and helps in gluten formation for well structured and flavoured breads.

We can now add salt to the dough.

Step 4

Add salt and tomato puree and knead well for 10 minutes or so. Enjoy the temporary mess — the dough will become more stable with the yeast feeding on sugars in the flour. 

Yes, it will be messy. And yes, it will be worth it 🙂

Step 5

Remember to add water gradually as you continue to knead.

Add water gradually as you knead.

Keep kneading, stretching and folding it on itself (like folding a sheet of paper in half), for about 10 minutes for gluten to develop properly. Add some flour or olive oil to make the dough soft and smooth, if needed.

Continue to stretch and fold; the dough will take shape.

Step 6

Roll the dough into a ball and place in a large greased bowl (preferably a glass bowl). Cover and keep the bowl in a dark and warm place. The fermentation process will double the dough in size, so make sure your bowl is large enough. The dough should not over ferment (ie. the dough should not more than double, else it rises and then sinks).

To test whether the dough has fermented and risen well, the dough should spring back after a gentle press.

In my experience fermentation time in an Indian kitchen in warm weather would be 45 minutes to 1 hour. In cool weather, it’s about 1&½ to 2 hours.

Gently take the dough out from the bowl. Because of the oil great it should slide out. Do not pull it out else you disturb the activity of the yeast. 

Again gently deflate the dough with finger tips — I call it dimpling.

Step 7

Roll the dough into a log shape and tuck from all sides as if seaming it. Place the dough in a loaf tin, seam side down, for proving (second rise). Remember, the dough has yeast which is alive and has to be handled with care, at all times. It should not over-prove (ie. the surface should not flatten and crack) else it does not spring in the oven and you’ll get a flat-top after baking. During the proving, the dough should rise, while maintaining its shape.

Proving time is just half of the fermentation time. With practice, you’ll be able to tell by the look and feel of the dough.

Step 8

Preheat the oven to 180℃. Create some steam (see note below) and bake in the preheated oven for about 35-40 minutes, till done.

In the oven. Notice it has risen after the 2nd proving.

To create some steam for a nice crusty loaf with keep boiling water in the last shelf or quickly spray some water on the loaf and in the oven as soon as you start baking.

And that’s it!

Your tomato and herbs bread is done!
Cut thick slices, and enjoy!

Tips and closing thoughts

  • Store fruits like tomatoes at room temperature rather than in the fridge. This increases levels of valuable lycopene as they ripen well.
  • Roast and puree or mash the tomatoes. If used in raw or cooked form the loaf will become soggy and very moist. 
  • You can roast some garlic pods as well. Leave them to roast with skin and peel later to prevent charring. 
  • You’ll need a bunch of fresh herbs for this bread and the main thing is quantity and they must be fresh. In case you do not have fresh herbs, use the dried ones. 
  • You can use regular tomatoes for this recipe, but I happened to have some cherry tomatoes, fresh from my friend’s garden– they’re ideal for roasting.

I hope you try this recipe and share your experiences with all of us on the groups, and here in the comments. Thanks again, to Mira Mishra Ma’am for the herbs and tomatoes!

32 thoughts on “Tomato and Herbs Bread

  1. Meenakshi J Goswami

    A must try recipe! I love the flavour of oven roasted cherry tomatoes and use them very often on toasted bread. You just combined it for me!! Thank you.

  2. RajaRani

    Following your blogs since day one. Everything explained chronologically and in an easy way.

  3. Rashmi Sethi

    Wow Renu. I am floored by the detailed explanation. Very scientific approach to baking. Shall definitely try making it.

  4. Shankari Murali

    Love, love love this recipe. Looking forward to try it. Is it possible to replace the yeast with sour curds? I don’t want to use yeast. 🙏

    1. renuamitabh Post author

      Do try it out Shankari! Let me know if you need further guidance.
      Instead of instant yeast you can try it with sourdough starter.
      if we do not use yeast, we will have to add some baking soda and curd for leavening. That would be a quick bread.

  5. Kavita

    This one looks amazing ma’am and I am tempted to try. I really admire your experimenting zeal to create wonderful bakes. Just one question.. can we use the normal tomatoes instead of cherry tomatoes.

    1. renuamitabh Post author

      Yes Kavita, we can use normal tomatoes in this recipe. Desi tomatoes ie. Indian tomatoes are tangy and are good after roasting for this bread. Do try it as it is a nutritious loaf packed with goodness of tomatoes, fresh herbs and olive oil. And it is very tasty too

  6. Romita

    The aroma and taste of the bread can be experienced while reading itself !!! Must try…

  7. Anjana Dube

    Great receipe Renu. It was so tempting that I just junked my morning routine of yog and pranayam and donned my baking cap. Luckily all ingredients were available at home. I mixed the dough and as advised left it for half an hour without adding the tomatoes, as it was still getting roasted. I took three large tomatoes which took about half an hour to get well roasted and soft.
    In my enthusiasm after they were cooked and pureed, measured a cup of puree and just dunked it over the dough and lo and behold it was a big messy almost flowing dough. I enjoyed it as Renu said and then slowly added about a quarter cup of wheat flour to make it stable. Then followed the process proving. Was very happy to see it fully fermented in about an hour. As the dough was still a bit wet than usual and had more than doubled, I could make two loafs. One a put in the usual bread tin and other in a steel dutch pan with lid and set it on in the oven hoping for best.
    After half an hour nice aroma filled the house. Lovely soft bread with great taste.
    Thank you Renu our banking guru.

    1. renuamitabh Post author

      Thanks Anjana (Hemu di) for trying out the Tomato and Herbs bread recipe with so much enthusiasm and sharing the process here. It sure inspires other bakers. Yes you are right, this bread is soft and moist and the aroma of herbs and roasted tomatoes makes it irresistible! It makes lovely sandwiches too which you may try.

  8. Murali Subramaniam

    Renu, can you try and make Foccacia with Jalapeno. Asked Manu to ask you, not sure he conveyed..

  9. renuamitabh Post author

    Yes Murali, you can make focaccia using jalapeno. Very soon I shall share my basic focaccia bread recipe with some herbs and olive oil and the possible variations like toppings of onion and capsicum, cheese and garlic, sun dried tomatoes and cottage cheese etc.

  10. Manmeet Kar

    Made tomato herb bread today
    So soft and so flavorful
    Makes me so so happy
    Thank you Renuji
    Eagerly waiting for your next post

  11. Shalu

    I tried it and the aroma, taste and texture is just out of the world..A must try for all the bakers.
    Thank you

  12. Purnima

    Hi Renu aunty,

    I tried out the bread and it was so perfect. In fact I baked it with 100% whole wheat. Very flavourful bread. Thank you for sharing. Looking forward to more innovative breads.

    1. renuamitabh Post author

      Purnima, it is really commendable that you try out the recipes without any maida and also do not add any other additives.
      We would like to follow some of your recipes and look forward to your ‘guest baker post’ soon.

  13. Shankari Murali

    Today I tried this. My very first attempt at baking bread. And without yeast. It was so yummy that even my daughter who had stopped eating bread due to use of yeast, ate it and loved it.

    Thanks for inspiring me to take this leap, Renu. 🙏

    1. renuamitabh Post author

      Shankari, that sounds so interesting- tomato bread without yeast.

      Keep the recipe ready as you must share it in the ‘guest baker’s post’ soon !

  14. Sheenavni

    Is it possible to make bread dough with a stand mixer? I hv a problem in my right palm/wrist & hand kneading is bit tough for me.

  15. Dr. Archana Choudhary

    Tried this tomato bread recipe . Came came out very well . My family loved it very much . Used both tomatoes and basil as well . Thank you very much dear Renu for this innovative idea .

  16. Anju Mishra

    I tried this delicious bread few days back n it turned out very delicious n soft . I made open sandwich n cucumber sandwiches too with this bread . Everyone loved it . This bread is actually so delicious that you can enjoy it just like that. Thank you so much Renu.

  17. Choti

    Hello Mam,

    I love making this bread. I tried the bread several times and always it was coming nice. I don’t know why from last two times it is not coming that good. The bread breaks when I use them for cooking on the hot tava. Please can you tell me what’s the thing I’m going wrong.

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