Friday, January 20, 2012

Tomato Basil Bread - just like Panera...but better! :)

  • No more store bought bread...that is one of the new things I decided to start doing for my family.  I don't want to be ingesting 30+ ingredients every time I put a piece of bread in my mouth, no matter how tasty it is!  There just is no good reason for it!
  • And homemade, nutritious bread is cool and all, but I do not want to just eat boring whole wheat bread all the time either.
  • So today I decided to try to make Panera Bread's Tomato Basil bread.  You know the has the crunchy brown sugar topping that is just SO amazingly paired with the tomato and basil flavors!  (I know, sounds totally gross, but it's super good!).  I couldn't find their actual recipe online, or an exact "copycat" recipe, but I did find a recipe for Tomato Basil Bread here that I used.
  • I added the topping, omitted crushed red pepper flakes, and swapped canned san marzano diced tomatoes for the tomato paste.  Result?!  Probably the best bread I've ever made...and I have made bread many times! :)  This is definitely going to be a new staple in our family! 
  • I used unbleached bread flour this time, but next time I will do half all purpose and half white whole wheat to see if we like it with the whole grain.  I figure even if I don't switch to all whole grain flour, every little bit helps...and of course, the fact that I only used 11 ingredients for this gourmet, several flavor bread is a huge plus in my book, even if it was regular old flour!
  • Two notes - I didn't put brown sugar on the whole thing...just wanted to try it without too, since I hadn't made this before...AND, I served this with a vegan chili recipe that I came up with and it was such an awesome pairing - the sweetness of the brown sugar and the smokey chipotle flavor in the chili.  DEFINITELY a great combination!
  • Ingredients:
  • 1 (1/4 ounce) package active dry yeast3/4 cup warm water (110 to 115 )1/4 cup fresh basil , minced (can substitute with 2 tablespoons dried)1/4 cup parmesan cheese , grated4 heaping Tbsp canned diced san marzano tomatoestablespoon sugartablespoon olive oilteaspoon salt2 1/2-2 3/4 cups bread flour
  • Ingredients for Brown Sugar Struesel Topping
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
    1/4 cup flour (I probably used a little less than that)
    3 Tbsp cold butter


  1. 1
    In a large mixing bowl, dissolve yeast in water. Stir in basil, Parmesan cheese, tomato paste, sugar, oil, salt, pepper flakes and 2 cups flour. Stir in enough remaining flour to form a stiff dough.
  2. 2
    Turn onto a floured surface; knead until smooth and elastic, about 3-5 minutes. Place in a greased bowl, turning once to grease top. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1 hour.
  3. 3
    Punch dough down; knead for 1 minute. Shape into a round loaf. Place on a greased baking sheet. Cover and let rise until doubled, about 1 hour.
    Make Brown Sugar Struesel - In medium bowl, mix together brown sugar and flour.  Add butter and cut with pastry blender until it's the size of small peas.
  4. 4
    Top dough with brown sugar mixture and bake at 375° for about 30 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from pan to a wire rack to cooling rack.

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