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Beautifully Simple Tomato Basil Bread
12701basil-tomato-bread

We get a weekly box of vegetables from a local farm in the summer and we have our own garden, so every August we have more veggies than we can handle – almost! We’ve been making a lot of soups, and I’ve found that adding a special bread can turn a simple soup into a fun summer meal fit for entertaining. This easy basil and tomato quick bread with herbed butter is perfect. It’s like a big buttery biscuit laced with parmesan cheese and dotted with delicious sun-dried tomato, basil and herbs.

I made Basil & Tomato Bread for friends and it drew rave reviews. As I’d hoped, the soup was elevated to superb status with the accompaniment of this amazing bread.

The bread assembles in about 20 minutes. First, just mix the three butter ingredients together in a bowl. I like to use a rotary grater for parmesan cheese because it’s so fast and easy. It helps if you take the cheese out a few minutes before you grate it so it’s a bit softer. Of course you can also buy pre-grated parmesan cheese to save even more time.

grated-parmesan

Using the back of the spoon and pressing the ingredients together into the side of the bowl works well to thoroughly mix your cheesy herb butter. You could also use a mixer, but it's so easy it doesn't seem necessary.

mix-w-back-of-spoon

Once the butter is thoroughly mixed and fluffy, transfer it to a nice bowl or ramekin for a beautiful presentation. I added a sprig of basil, too. If you’re not serving in the next few hours, you may want to wait and add the basil garnish later as it will wilt over time.

butter-presentation

Once the butter is ready, put it in the fridge until about 15 minutes before serving.

Then make the bread! I like to get all my ingredients out first so everything is nearby, minced or chopped and ready to go.

ingredients-ready

First, mix the dry ingredients. The recipe calls for dried basil and onion, but I used fresh basil because it was growing like crazy in my garden, and minced fresh red onions since I had so many. Because these two ingredients were fresh instead of dried, I increased the amounts to about 3 tablespoons chopped basil, and 3 teaspoons minced onion.

ready-to-add-wet

Once the flour, cheese and herbs are mixed, you just add the wet ingredients, mixing just enough so the dough starts coming together. Then, turn it out onto a floured surface for light kneading.

ready-to-knead

Be sure to flour your hands – dusting one with flour and then rubbing them together lightly. Add just enough flour to keep from sticking to your dough – any more might make your bread dry.

knead-10x

Then simply divide the dough into two pieces, shaping them into balls and flattening slightly to 4 1/2” across.

divide-into-2-loaves

Once they’re on your greased baking sheet, brush them with egg white and sprinkle with cheese.

brushing-loaf sprinkling-cheese

For the final step before baking, use a sharp knife to cut an “x” in the top of each loaf, taking care not to cut too far out to the edge as this can make the loaf split open on the sides during baking. (It still tastes great, though, so don’t worry too much about this!)

cutting-x-in-top

After baking, it is important to let this bread cool before serving. If you cut it too soon, it may be dense and wet in the middle. When you use restraint and wait – you can do it! – it tastes amazingly fresh and delicious.

final-on-table-1

Now is the time to take the butter out to soften for 10-15 minutes. Setting the cooled bread out on the table with the butter creates much anticipation and makes a beautiful centerpiece.

final-w-soup

This bread became a legend in one night, with six people gobbling up both loaves in one sitting. One friend called the bread "divine," and no one could believe that it was so easy. The butter was a nice touch, and added an element of festivity to the already colorful bread. A great complement to the soup, but I can also see how this bread would make an amazing snack anytime!

Be sure to try this Basil Tomato Bread soon. You’ll be glad you did! I’d love to hear your questions or comments about my blog and this fantastic recipe. Also, remeber to rate and review this recipe, too.

Stop back again in a few days to learn all about Julie’s fabulous pineapple upside down cake…

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do you think the dough would freeze well? then thaw and bake later. i have a garden full of tomatoes so i've been busy cooking and freezing for the fall/winter. i'm stocked with tomato soup so this bread would be awesome!

Posted Aug 06 2012 by tina
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Test Kitchen Comment
From:

Cindy

At this point we have not tested the freezing of this dough. If other readers have experience with freezing yeast bread dough it would be good to get the information. I am interested in trying it myself. It is the season of tomatoes!
Posted August 06, 2012

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