Sunday, April 15, 2018

Italian Tomato Loaf

The one particular vegetable that equates to Italian cuisine is the tomato. My favorite kind of tomato is one called beefsteak. The beefsteak tomato is well known for its meaty texture and wonderful flavor.

I recall one dining experience in which I ordered Margherita pizza. Authentic and very much Italian, the pizza only had 4 components: crisp crust, tomato sauce, tomato slices and mozzarella. I have seen a lot of recipes for this type of pizza, but never with whole slices of tomatoes. All this typing makes me want another piece! It was quite a long time ago in a restaurant out of town, but I am ready to go back.

Between my love of bread and my thoughts about tomatoes, I found a base a recipe for tomato bread from My Recipe Cards and tweaked it by adding and eliminating elements until I created a recipe that produces a very Italian flavored tomato loaf.

This tomato bread has the same density of sourdough bread and includes Italian seasoning, mozzarella cheese and two types of flour. Due to the chewy texture and flavor, the bread has many tasty uses. A few slices for a sandwich or an accompaniment for a pasta dish, are just to list a few. This recipe makes a smaller loaf, about 7-8 inches in diameter.

Italian Tomato Loaf
by Flourtrader

3/4 tsp Italian seasoning
1/3 cup grated mozzarella
1 tsp sugar
1 pkg yeast
1/4 cup snipped herbs (optional rosemary, basil, thyme in small pieces)
2 tbs butter
1 cup canned tomatoes (drained with 1/2 juice reserved)
3-4 cups flour
1 egg white (whisked)
topping (Italian seasoning or snipped herbs)

Fill a food processor with the tomatoes and the reserved juice. Pulse until tomatoes are blended, but not pureed, the mixture should still have some chunks of tomato.

Transfer to a saucepan and place a candy thermometer inside. Turn the heat up to medium and let the liquid warm up to 105 to 115 degrees. Remove from heat. Stir in the yeast and the sugar. Let the mixture sit until the surface is foamy.

Pour the mixture into the bowl of a stand mixer and beat in the herbs (if using), Italian seasoning, butter and cheese. Once blended, fold flour into batter, 1 cup at a time. After the 2nd cup, let dough rest for 10 minutes. Remove dough from bowl and place on a flat, floured surface. Knead in the additional cup and then check for consistency. It should be a very stiff dough. If not, knead in more flour until the correct consistency is reached.

Place dough in a greased bowl and cover lightly. Let rise in a warm place until doubled in size. After an hour, check the dough by making a half inch indentation in the center. If the indention remains, the rising time is complete. If not, let it rise for additional time as needed.

After the first rise time, punch down dough. Shape into a round loaf and place on a parchment lined baking sheet. Cut a few slits in the top and then let rise again. As it rises, preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Check the dough after 1 hour of rise time by lightly pressing on top. The rising time is complete if the imprint remains.

Brush the surface with the egg white and sprinkle with fresh herbs or dry Italian seasoning. Bake until the surface is toasty and tapping the loaf emits a hollow sound, approximately 35-40 minutes. Remove from oven and place on rack to completely cool.
                              **LAST YEAR:Blackberry Ginger Kouign Amann**