Tomato Basil Bread

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.

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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

Amy
A blend of fresh tomatoes, fresh basil and herbs into a delicious loaf of yeast bread
Course Bread
Servings 2 loaves of bread

Ingredients
  

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

Instructions
 

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 🙂

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Fluffy Potato Bread

You guys. I love potatoes. Baked Potatoes. Mashed Potatoes. Fried potatoes. French Fries. Breakfast Potatoes…the list goes on and on. They have always been one of my favorites, so it is no surprise that I am sharing a really great recipe for potato bread. 

Why put potatoes in bread?

You may be wondering why it is beneficial to put potato in bread. Adding potato not only increases the nutritional value of the bread (think zinc, iron, more potassium) but it also remains moist longer than a traditional loaf of bread. This means that it can be kept on the counter longer and not go stale as fast. This is perfect for my kids who seem to be making multiple sandwiches every day…eating me out of my loaves of bread faster than I can make them! I do still like freezing leftover bread to preserve freshness if you won’t eat the whole loaf in a day or two.

I love how tender this bread is thanks to the potato. It holds up perfectly for a sandwich but also is perfect for a piece of toast with butter and jam. I also happen to think potato bread makes an awesome grilled cheese sandwich. Have I convinced you to give it a try yet? 

How to Make Easy Mashed Potato for Bread

I don’t always have mashed potatoes on hand to make this bread (you could sub the potatoes in this recipe for mashed potatoes if you have them). I use this simple method to quickly mash some potato: Wash two russet potatoes and use a fork to poke holes in each potato a couple of times. Wet two paper towels and wrap each potato in a wet paper towel. Microwave on high for about 4-5 minutes or until the paper towel is mostly dry (it may still be a little damp) and the potato is cooked through. Cut the potato in half and allow to cool a little. Use a grater to finely grate the potato. The skin will easily separate from the inside of the potato. I don’t use the skin of the potato in the bread, just the inside. Measure out 1 cup of grated potato and mash a little if needed with a fork. Let cool completely before using in the recipe.

The dough this bread forms is a little bit stickier than traditional bread dough, but it is also light, airy and super tender. It bakes up like a normal loaf of bread but those potatoes in it give it a little something special. I think the few extra steps are worth it for this amazing loaf of bread. 

Fluffy Potato Bread

Yield: 2 loaves of bread, I bake my loaves in 8.5 inch pans found here

Time: 15 minute mix/knead, 1-1.5 hour rise, 5 minute shape, 1 hour rise, 35 minute bake

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups (16 oz) warm water
  • ½ cup (4 oz) warm milk
  • 1 Tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon instant yeast
  • 3 teaspoons salt
  • ¼ cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup (8 oz) potato, mashed and cooled
  • 7 cups (35 oz) bread flour

Directions:

Note: This dough is a little stickier and smoother due to the addition of the potato. It benefits from using a stand mixer for a full knead, but you can also try it by hand.

  1. In a liquid measuring cup, mix 2 cups water with ½ cup of milk. Warm them slightly on the stove or in the microwave. If you are using the microwave, check after every 10-15 seconds and stir the mixture well as it can sometimes heat unevenly. You are looking for warm water, about the temperature of a baby’s bathwater.
  2. Pour the liquid into the bowl of a stand mixer or a large bowl if mixing by hand. Add the sugar and yeast to the liquid. Stir together. Continue by adding the salt and vegetable oil. Mix lightly.
  3. Add the cooled potato mixture along with a few cups of flour and begin mixing the ingredients with a dough hook or your hands. Continuing adding flour until the dough comes together. Using a dough hook, continue kneading for 5-7 minutes or turn the dough on the counter and knead by hand for about 10 minutes. Check out this post to test for readiness of your dough.
  4. Lightly oil a bowl. Place the dough into the oiled bowl . Give the dough a few turns so it is lightly covered in the oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a dish towel and let rise for about an hour or until doubled in size.
  5. Once doubled, turn the dough out onto the counter and cut into two pieces (this recipe makes two loaves of bread). Prepare a loaf pan with parchment paper or spray with non-stick cooking spray. I use these loaf pans and never have to spray them for bread. I love them!
  6. Using your hands, press the dough into a rectangle. You can use your loaf pan as a guide for the width of the rectangle. Roll up the dough, pressing in the seam as you go. Once you get to the top, pinch the dough together at the top and place in the loaf pan. Repeat with the second loaf of bread dough. Check out this video to see how I shape my loaves. 
  7. Cover loaves with a kitchen towel and let rise in a warm place for about an hour or until the dough fills the pan and just barely rises over the top of the bread pan. The bread will rise more as it bakes in the oven.
  8. Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for about 35-40 minutes. Check on the loaves around 30 minutes and cover with foil if they are browning too quickly. Brush with melted butter when out of the oven and let cool completely. Enjoy!

Follow me on Instagram @amybakesbread, like Amy Bakes Bread on Facebook or follow me on Pinterest for more baking ideas.

Please share this recipe if you enjoyed it! Post a photo and tag me @amybakesbread so I can see your bake 🙂

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Our Favorite White Sandwich Bread

A delicious loaf of white bread is a treat for my family. We usually eat whole wheat bread around these parts using this favorite recipe but sometimes when I’m feeling extra nice I’ll surprise my kids with some white bread that I’ve made. With bare shelves at grocery stores and not wanting to leave my house other than once every two weeks or so, I’ve been grateful to pull this recipe out and make some bread with the six easy ingredients I have on hand. It seems like I’ve been letting the little things go more these days (rationing my whole wheat flour is one of them)  and my kids are not complaining about the increase of white sandwich bread in our house.

The best white sandwich bread!

Bread Flour or All Purpose Flour?

Most of the time I keep all purpose flour on hand because it works well for just about any recipe. This bread recipe works with a basic 10-11% protein all purpose flour from the grocery store, but it is at its absolute best when you use bread flour or add some vital wheat gluten to compensate for the all purpose flour. I also sometimes will substitute in 1/3-1/2 of the flour for whole wheat flour if I want to up the whole grains my family is consuming.

Kneading and Shaping

Baking With Kids: Add a Swirl

We are going on week three here of having kids at home full-time and I try to dedicate one day a week to work on a baking skill with them. This past week it was this delicious white bread. It’s a fairly basic yeast-dough recipe and the results are awesome. My kids love to pick a filling and swirl it into their bread. We had cinnamon swirl bread and “pizza” bread…both delicious. I love seeing their creativity and excitement at getting to create something that’s all theirs. 

Swirl Breads: If you want to add a swirl to your bread, simply pick a small amount of ingredients, layer it on (like you would a pizza) and roll up tightly, making sure to pinch the seam closed on top. Bake as directed. A few ideas from my kids:

  • Cinnamon Swirl: 2 Tablespoons white sugar, 1 Tablespoon cinnamon
  • “Pizza”: 10 chopped up pepperoni, 2 Tablespoons red sauce, ¼-½ cup shredded cheese
  • Cheese bread: ½ cup your favorite cheese sprinkled over the bread 
“Pizza” bread on the left, Cinnamon Swirl bread on the right

This recipe makes one delicious loaf of white bread, though it can easily be doubled or tripled (I actually multiplied it by four so each of my kids could make a loaf). It slices well and is the perfect bread for a sandwich or to snack on. We use our leftovers for french toast on lazy mornings…which seems to be every morning these days. So check your pantry and give it a go!

Yield: One loaf of white bread

Time: 20 minutes mix, 2-3 hours rise, 35 minute bake

Ingredients:

  • 1 ⅓ cups warm water
  • ¾ Tablespoon instant yeast
  • 2 ½ Tablespoons white sugar
  • 2 ½ Tablespoons oil
  • 1 ½  teaspoons salt
  • 3 ½-4 cups bread flour (or all purpose flour)

Directions:

Be careful not to over-flour your dough. Once it forms a ball but still leaves sticky residue on your fingers, it is ready!
  1. Mix together the water, instant yeast, sugar, oil and salt. Add one cup of the bread flour. Mix together with a wooden spoon (or using a mixer). It should look like a thick batter. Let rest for 10 minutes until the mixture is bubbly. 
  2. After ten minutes, add the rest of the flour a cup at a time. Check your dough to see if you need more flour. The dough should still be a little sticky but should roll into a ball if you roll it on your fingers. Knead for 5 minutes in a mixer or 10 minutes by hand. 
  3. Lightly oil a bowl and transfer the dough to the bowl. Cover with a kitchen towel, set in a warm place and let it rise for 1-2 hours, until doubled in size. 
  4. Turn the dough out onto the counter and shape into a rectangle. You will be rolling the dough into a cylinder shape. Starting at the edge closest to you, roll up the dough. Take care to press in the dough at the seam after each roll and pinch the seam closed at the end. Check out the photos below for a visual.
  5. Transfer the dough, seam side-down to a bread pan. I like using an 8.5 by 4.5 bread pan but this loaf will fit a 9 by 5 bread pan too.
  6. Allow the dough to rise about 45 minutes to 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). 
  7. Pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees. Bake the bread for about 35 minutes. Top with melted butter if desired. Let cool if you can and enjoy!

Recipe Notes: If you don’t have bread flour, try mixing 1 Tablespoon of vital wheat gluten in with your all purpose flour (or just use all-purpose flour). You can substitute milk for a “richer” bread, though I don’t think it’s necessary.

Please share this recipe if you enjoyed it! Post a photo and tag me @amybakesbread so I can see your bake 🙂

Follow me on Instagram @amybakesbread or like Amy Bakes Bread on Facebook for more baking ideas.