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Tomato Bread


British tomatoes are ripening in gardens and are in shops and markets everywhere. In the same way that making bread is not rushed, tomatoes that are allowed to ripen on the vine taste the best. Despite my kids turning their noses up at them (they eat more tomatoes than they realise…) I think that they are a highlight of summer and I always hope for a glut of them as they are so versatile.

How about combining ripe, juicy tomatoes with a chewy Italian loaf made with semolina for a rustic, chewy crumb? Sounds good to me, so I asked Vanessa to come up with a recipe for us all to enjoy in the summer sun, so here is a delicious tomato filled Italian tomato bread to bake this weekend.

August shouts tomatoes to me too. Ripe, juicy sweet red ones, and there are none better than the ones which have been ripened in the summer sun. I’ve gone a bit tomato mad in this recipe, using sun dried tomatoes and tomato puree as well as fresh tomatoes on top, but then why do things by halves? I’ve also used “00” flour for finesse, creating a dough which is finer and lighter, letting the tomatoes take centre stage. A scraper is essential as this dough can be slightly sticky. When shaping this bread it really helps to use your scraper to lift the dough from the work surface, using only a very light dusting of flour, should it stick. The oblong baker works in the same way as the cloche, in that it spreads the heat around the bread to give it the most beautiful artisan finish. The oblong baker also protects the bread from burning – cooking it more evenly at a higher temperature in a protected unit.

At the risk of sounding slightly obsessed I also recommend serving this bread with a fresh tomato salad and a bowl of olive oil to dip your bread into.

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In a large bowl mix the flour, semolina, yeast, salt, tomato puree and sundried tomatoes then stir in the tepid water.

Knead, either with a stand mixer for about 5 minutes, or you can use your hands to knead your dough for about 10 minutes, on a lightly floured surface until the dough has a silky bouncy texture.

Pop your dough into an oiled bowl and cover it with a damp cloth and leave to rise until it is doubled in size. Generously dust the base of your oblong baker with polenta.

Gently turn out your dough onto a lightly floured work surface and shape the dough into a bâtard shape; do this by gently stretching the dough into a rectangle so you can fold it into three, folding one end into the centre and then the other end over the top – like a business letter.

Turn over so the seam side is down and gently roll the dough to create a longer shape, finally pinch the ends to create the bâtard shape. Place the dough, seam side down on the dusted base.

Push the halves of fresh tomato into the top of the bread and using a lame slice between the tomatoes. Place the lid on top and prove for a further 30 minutes on the side until it has risen by half again.

Heat oven to 220C/200C fan/gas 7. Once the dough has had its second prove, place in the oven and cook for 10 minutes. Reduce the temperature to 180C and cook for a further 30-35 minutes until firm and golden brown. Your loaf should sound hollow when tapped underneath.

Remove from the baker and place on a wire rack to cool.

Serve with a fresh tomato and basil salad.

Remove from the oven and the cloche and cool the loaf on a wire rack.

Makes: One small loaf

Ingredients:

60g olive oil, plus extra for greasing 200g “00” Soffiata flour, plus extra for dusting 50g Durum semolina 5g Bioreal organic yeast 4g sea salt 2tbsp tomato puree 60g sundried tomatoes in 25ml of oil, roughly chopped 125g water (30 degrees) Polenta, for dusting the baker 2-3 fresh cherry tomatoes, halved

Equipment:

Large mixing bowl Stand mixer (optional) Oblong covered baker Lame / Grignette

Durum Semolina

Organic Durum Semolina for dry pasta, fresh pasta, adding to bread or dusting of doughs and bannetons.

“00” Soffiata Flour

Type "00" flour from strong organic wheat suitable for ciabatta, baguettes, brioches, croissants and as a general bread flour.

Oblong Baker

The oblong covered baker traps the steam and maintains an even baking temperature to give you moist bread with a golden, even and crackly crust and light crumb.

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