I love tomatoes – on sandwiches, in Caprese salad and especially fresh from a summer garden. There is nothing quite as sweet or delicious as one of those first garden tomatoes of the summer. They are juicy, sweet and full of the best tomato flavor; not to mention things always taste a little sweeter when you haven’t had them for an extended period of time. This tomato basil bread is made with garden fresh tomatoes (or canned diced tomatoes if you can’t get ahold of fresh tomatoes) which lends a subtle, sweet tomato flavor to the loaf.
Canned or Fresh?
I have made this bread with both fresh roasted tomatoes and canned diced tomatoes. If you have an abundance of fresh garden tomatoes, I would roast them and use them in the dough. If you are savoring your few garden tomatoes one by one (can you tell our tomato harvest didn’t produce very well this year?), I would use canned tomatoes and top a slice of bread with a garden tomato. This bread also calls for sun-dried tomatoes. You can find these at your local grocery store and I’ve found that they really help boost the tomato flavor in the bread. If you don’t want a lot of tomato flavor, you can leave them out or reduce the amount called for in the recipe, but be warned: the tomato flavor will be very subtle without them.
Fresh Basil or Dried?
We just moved to a new house and the previous owners left a beautiful garden of herbs all along our deck. We have a giant basil bush that is producing basil left and right. I love the fresh basil in this recipe and the flavor it brings. With that said, I also love being able to use dried herbs when I don’t have any fresh ones on hand. You can substitute dried basil for the fresh basil, though if you can get your hands on some fresh basil, I would still try to add a little bit of it into this bread. There’s something about the taste of fresh herbs that just can’t be beat.
Use a Blender
One of the keys to this beautiful loaf of bread is using a blender to mix up the tomatoes, herbs and water to form a beautiful tomato sauce. The “sauce” takes the place of the liquid in your bread dough. Do your best to blend the mixture until it is very, very smooth. This will also add a beautiful orange color to your bread. If you’ve roasted fresh tomatoes (instead of canned), let them cool before blending into the sauce. Make sure the sauce is room temperature or just slightly warm before mixing it with the yeast.
Tomato Flavor Deepens As Bread Cools
This tomato basil bread is delicious the day you bake it, though I would recommend letting the bread cool completely before slicing into it. I’ve found that the flavor of the bread deepens as it cools. I like to slice my whole loaf of bread, stash it in a bread bag (affiliate link) and then freeze the slices I’m not going to use right away. I’ve found that the pre-sliced bread toasts up beautifully, directly from the freezer to the toaster, for a sandwich or slice of toast over the next few weeks…if it lasts that long! My favorite way to enjoy this bread is topped with a fresh garden tomato or toasted as a sandwich. I hope you love it as much as I do!
Tomato Basil Bread
Tomato Basil Blender Mixture
- 3 cups roasted chopped tomatoes OR one 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes
- 4 Tablespoons tomato paste
- 1/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes up to 1/4 cup more for more tomato flavor
- 1/2 cup fresh basil or 2 Tablespoons dried basil
- 1 Tablespoon fresh oregano or 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 Tablespoon fresh rosemary or 1 teaspoon dried rosemary
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 cup water more or less
Tomato Basil Bread Dough
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1 Tablespoon instant yeast
- 1/4 cup vegetable oil
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 7-8 cups all purpose flour
Tomato Basil Blender Mixture
- For fresh garden tomatoes: Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Chop tomatoes and add to a liquid measuring cup until you have 3 cups of chopped tomatoes. Spread tomatoes on a baking sheet and drizzle with a bit of olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Roast for 15-20 minutes and allow to cool before proceeding with the recipe. Alternatively you can use one 14.5 ounce can of diced tomatoes.
- To a blender, add the roasted or diced tomatoes, tomato paste, sun-dried tomatoes (if you absolutely love tomato flavor you can add up to ¼ cup more sun-dried tomatoes), basil, oregano, rosemary, salt and garlic powder. Blend until smooth.
- Add as much water as needed (about a cup) to make 3 ½ cups of liquid. The amount of liquid in different types of tomatoes will vary. This is the easiest way to standardize the recipe. My blender has measurements on the side so I know exactly how much water to add. If yours doesn’t have measurements, you could add the tomato mixture to a large liquid measuring cup (affiliate link) or measure the liquid as you pour it into your mixer and add enough water to make 3 ½ cups.
- Double check that your tomato basil liquid is cool to the touch or lightly warm (you don’t want to do all that work and then kill the yeast).
Tomato Basil Bread Dough
- To a stand mixer, add the tomato basil liquid, granulated sugar, yeast, vegetable oil and salt. Stir together. Using a dough hook, add the flour a cup at a time until the dough clears the sides of the bowl and can be pinched off and rolled into a ball in your fingers with just a little bit of sticky residue left over. Check out this post for how to check for readiness of the dough.
- Knead the dough for about 5-10 minutes. Add a splash of oil to a bowl and transfer the dough to the bowl, turning the dough around so it is covered lightly in the oil.
- Cover the bowl of dough with a kitchen towel and let rise for about an hour or until doubled in size. The temperature of your kitchen will affect how long it takes for the bread to rise.
- Punch down the risen dough, turn out on the counter and cut the dough in half. This recipe makes two loaves of bread. Shape the dough into a rectangle with the smallest side of the rectangle facing you. Starting at the edge closest to you, roll up the dough into a cylinder shape. Take care to press in the dough at the seam after each roll and pinch the seam closed at the end.
- Transfer the dough, seam side-down to a bread pan. I use an 8.5 by 4.5 bread pan (affiliate link). Repeat with the second loaf of bread.
- Allow the dough to rise again for about an hour, covered and in a warm place. The dough should just rise a little bit over the top of the bread pan (it will rise more in the oven).
- Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Bake the bread for 37-40 minutes. Top with melted butter if desired. Let the loaves cool completely before slicing and enjoying.
Please share this recipe if you enjoyed it! Post a photo and tag me @amybakesbread so I can see your bake 🙂