As mentioned in last week’s post, i recently had catering from Panera Bread, and it reminded me that Panera produces one of my all-time favorite types of bread – the Tomato Basil. This bread maintains a lightness normally associated with a white bread, but packs much more flavor. And the crust on this bread stands a cut above most other breads i’ve tried.
With that memory firmly rekindled in my brain, i set about trying to find a recipe that could approximate the qualities of this bread. I was not surprised to discover that i was walking welll-worn path. The are many. different. people. trying to copy. this. bread. So clearly i have a ton of source material to work from. But when i bake (or cook, or do just about anything in the kitchen), i don’t like recipe lists that are too long. My personal opinion is that when you get over a certain number of ingredients as part of a dish, the individual flavors fail to stand out and you reach a point of diminishing returns – that is, for every additional ingredient you add, you’re not getting very much additional taste. I’m sure that are those that would tell me (and no doubt prove with any number of exception cases) that i am wrong, but when i’m in the kitchen i tend to gravitate towards “less is more” type recipes.
In this case, that means i analyzed a bunch of these Tomato Basil bread recipes and tried to find the commonalities (tomato paste) and keep it as simple as possible.
At that point i was ready to put together my own version of a tomato basil bread. I was still a bit mentally scarred from the “no-rise” situation the previous week, so made sure to mix the water and yeast prior to incorporating into the dough. It seemed to do the trick, as i got a really nice rise this time.
Quick aside – my wife laughs at me – i’ll generally leave the bowl of dough on the kitchen table overnight, and in the morning walk by and (assuming it’s risen) give it a quick “rise lord vader” (my mis-remembering of this scene) in my best Palpatine voice.
Panera-esque Tomato Basil Bread
- 3 cups Bread Flour
- 1.5 Cups Water
- 1 teaspoons Yeast
- 3 tablespoons Tomato Paste
- 1.5 teaspoons Salt
- 2 tablespoons dried basil
- Mix water and yeast, then combine with other ingredients. Mix vigorously.
- Cover and let it rise overnight
- Heat a dutch oven to 450 degrees and bake for 30 minutes, covered. Remove cover and bake for an additional 10 minutes for color