This yummy and fluffy Herb, Cheese, & Tomato Bread is a bit reminiscent of pizza, with some cayenne sprinkled in for some pizzaz!
Recently I’ve been seeing @subtleasian.baking on Instagram respond to some fairly offensive comments from people who apparently despise colored bread. Seriously? Of all the things to take issue with on this earth at this moment, they choose to be all offended by colored bread? Is this some sort of psychological/physical manifestation of simply discriminating against anything with color in general? Because some very strong feelings against colored bread do exist.
I remember shaking my head at a comment under an Ube Bread video I recently came across on YouTube. It went something like: ‘This purple bread is a disgrace! I am disgusted by any food that’s not the color it should be!‘ But ube IS purple. There is no universe where it is white.
I get that not everyone is capable of being open-minded, but how ignorant does one have to be to be “disgusted” by purple bread (ie. flavored with ube) or pink bread (ie. flavored with strawberry) or maybe even green bread (ie. flavored with pandan or matcha). I can’t imagine any of these flavors being any other color, though I suppose some people aren’t satisfied until everything is “white”. I wonder if these same people have something against red velvet too.
I feel like if only they would take a bit of time to understand what the bread is actually made of, they’d realize the color is a natural outcome of the ingredients. It must be much easier to insult other people rather than consider how, say, anything with butterfly pea in it naturally turns blue in color. It’s not that hard to Google these things. Could it simply be that more and more people are obtaining satisfaction from being disrespectful and unkind?
I suppose it is true that people have done worse for lesser things than colored bread. Maybe humanity is at a point of decline or something. Maybe we’re all turning to easy-to-offend war-freaks. I honestly don’t know. All I know is, I wanted to post a colored bread today not to add fuel to the fire, but to show that THERE IS NOTHING WRONG WITH IT.
The recipe for this Tomato Bread with Herbs & Cheese is one that I very much adore. It’s bread with tomato sauce in the dough, which is why it’s colored the way it is. Because tomatoes are red and turn an orange hue if it’s not concentrated. (Just thought I’d put it out there for people who don’t know what a tomato looks like.)
The bread this recipe yields is amazingly fluffy. In the recipe video below, you’ll see clips of me tearing apart so many pieces of bread because I can’t get over the wonderful texture and the crumb of this Tomato Bread. (Of course I also ended up eating all the pieces of bread I tore apart.)
I feel like I could’ve gotten the tomato taste to come out more had I used a more high-quality tomato sauce. (Too lazy to make my own lol.) As it is though, it still tasted pretty good. It actually reminds me of pizza, in a way.
This recipe is a good way to use up the dried herbs in your pantry. The Tomato Bread base doesn’t choose what herb should go with it, because everything that you imagine pairing well with tomato sauce will pair well with this bread. I also decided to liberally fill the bread with cheese, thus the comparison to pizza. (Add finely chopped ham or pepperoni with the cheese, why not?) The cheese you use will be crucial here, so use good cheese. I recommend pepper jack for extra flavor and a good melt.
Because I also like adding a bit of spice in pretty much everything, I decided to sprinkle this bread with some cayenne before popping into the oven. It was a last-minute decision and one I do not regret! It doesn’t really add a significant heat, just a little heat here and there that complements all the flavors of the bread.
- Use bread flour for better texture. If you don’t have bread flour and have no intention of buying it, you may substitute all-purpose flour. However do note that the crumb may not be as optimal as bread made using flour with higher protein content (bread flour). It will still come out well though.
- Mix ingredients with a wooden spoon first before attaching it to the stand mixer. While I agree that this isn’t strictly necessary, I prefer adding this extra step to make sure that flour doesn’t fly everywhere when I start mixing with my dough hook. By giving the ingredients an initial stir with your wooden spoon, you ensure that majority of the dry ingredients are wet and will no longer scatter out of the bowl when agitated by the high speed machine that is your mixer with the dough hook attached. That said, feel free to attach the bowl right away and let the mixer do all the work if you don’t want to wash an extra wooden spoon.
- Add the butter gradually into the dough. Adding the butter all at once might make it difficult for the dough to absorb/incorporate all that fat. Allow the dough to absorb the butter bit by bit as you knead it.
- Knead the dough until it’s elastic enough to pass the windowpane test. I generally use this test whenever I make yeast bread because I feel that it’s a good way to gauge if the dough has been kneaded sufficiently. You basically take a chunk of the dough and tug it gently in opposite directions. If it manages to stretch out into a thin membrane (like in the photo above) before breaking, then it’s elastic. If it breaks right away, it needs a few more minutes of kneading. I generally knead between 8 to 10 minutes to achieve this elasticity and gluten formation.
- Feel free to shape the breads in any way you like. I generally like doing a combo of knots and crescents. You can watch the video above for an idea on how to shape the bread.
- Pepper jack cheese is a good choice for filling these breads. I like the added pepper bits in this cheese but regular cheddar is also good. If you like it a little saltier, use aged cheddar.
- You can use any combination of herbs for the bread itself, as well as the topping. I used Italian seasoning plus a bit of dried basil in this video. If you prefer fresh herbs, chop them finely before using. You can also tweak the recipe by changing up the spice you sprinkle on top, or simple add spices to the dough itself. A touch of paprika perhaps?
- Bake breads for about 15 minutes, or until they’re super puffy and the cheese is bubbling. You can bake these a couple minutes longer if you like to brown the tops a little, but 15 minutes is my sweet spot for this bread. I honestly love how these breads puff up some more in the oven.
- Tomato Bread is best enjoyed warm. These are amazing fresh out of the oven, but remember to let them cool for a bit as the cheese will be super hot and might burn you! These are also great at room temp as you can still get a nice cheese pull out of them, but if you microwave them for about 20 seconds on medium you can get the cheese to go back to an oozing state. YUM!
- Store leftovers in an airtight container at room temperature up to 2 days. Beyond that, store these breads in the fridge to prolong their freshness. Since this recipe makes 18 pieces of Tomato Bread, there will inevitably be leftovers. They are quite addictive though. They’re all gone by Day 3 over here.
Herb, Cheese, & Tomato Bread
- 500 grams (3½ cups) bread flour
- 30 grams (¼ cup) caster sugar
- 10 grams (2 teaspoons) salt
- 10 grams (1 Tablespoon) instant yeast
- 2 grams (2 Tablespoons) dried herbs of choice*, plus more for topping
- 240 mL (1 cup) tomato puree or sauce
- 2 large eggs
- 60 grams (just a little over ¼ cup) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
- 250 grams shredded cheddar cheese of choice**
- 1 egg, beaten, for egg wash
- Cayenne pepper, for topping
- In the bowl of your stand mixer, use a wooden spoon to mix together bread flour, sugar, salt, yeast, and dried herbs. Add in tomato sauce and eggs, then mix just until the flour is moistened and a shaggy dough begins to form.
- Attach the bowl to your stand mixer and using the dough hook, begin kneading the dough at low speed until it comes together. Gradually add the butter and leave the mixer to knead the dough for about 6 to 8 more minutes, until dough is elastic but still tacky and supple. To check if dough is properly kneaded, do the windowpane test: Take a chunk of dough and stretch it out gently. If you can stretch it into a thin membrane before it breaks, then enough gluten has developed.
- With oiled hands, shape the dough into a ball and transfer into a lightly greased bowl for proofing. Roll the dough inside the bowl until coated with some oil, then cover and leave to rise for 1 hour in a warm place.
- Once risen, punch down the dough and turn out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead briefly to remove any remaining air trapped inside the dough. Divide dough into 18 portions of about 50 grams each. (My dough weighed about 905 grams in total.) Work with one piece of dough at a time, keeping the other pieces covered so they don't dry out.
- You can shape the bread in two ways. First, the CRESCENT: Take a piece of dough and roll into a ball. With your fingers, shape the ball into a carrot-like shape, wherein the top part is wide and the bottom tapers to a point. Roll out into a flat triangular shape using a rolling pin, then spread about 1 Tablespoon of shredded cheese on the surface of the dough. Starting from the long end, carefully roll the dough towards the pointed end, taking care to keep the cheese from falling out. Gently press the pointed end against the rolled dough to seal.
- The second shape is the KNOT: Take a piece of dough and roll into rough cylindrical shape about 6 inches long. Using a rolling pin, roll out the dough until it's a flat oblong shape. Place about 1 Tablespoon of shredded cheese in a straight line at the center of the dough lengthwise, then bring both sides of the dough up and over the cheese, pinching to seal. You should now have a fat worm-like piece of dough. Carefully roll and stretch the dough into a 9-inch long rope. (I like to swing it gently to lengthen it quickly. You can make it shorter but I find this length is the easiest to knot.) Gently tie the dough into a knot.
- Place the shaped pieces of dough onto a parchment lined 13x9-inch baking sheet, spaced about 1 inch apart. You can shape the dough in any way you want, but I made 8 knots and 8 crescents. Leave the dough to proof for another 45 minutes to 1 hour, until doubled.
- During the last 20 minutes of the second rise, preheat your oven to 350°F (180°C).
- Once the dough has sufficiently risen, brush with beaten egg, then sprinkle with more dried herbs and as much or as little cayenne as you desire. Bake breads in preheated oven for 15 minutes, until breads are fully puffed and you see some of the cheese bubbling through the crevices. (Mine are done at exactly 15 minutes, but if necessary, add 2 more minutes.)
- Remove from oven and allow to cool for about 5 minutes, or else the cheese might burn you. Enjoy these fluffy breads fresh and warm, while the cheese is still oozing! Store leftovers in an airtight container at room temperature up to 2 days. Reheat in the microwave about 20 seconds, if desired.
All images and videos on this blog are owned by The Tummy Train and Clarisse Panuelos. Unauthorized use of content, removal of watermark, or edit and reupload is prohibited and will constitute theft.