As I may have mentioned before I have quite a few cookbooks that I normally mark recipes from but more often than not don’t get around to trying out. Recently I started going through some of these cookbooks to refresh my memory on those marked recipes and also to see if I can make room on my bookshelf for other cookbooks that I will get more use out of. In doing so I came across a Sun-Dried Tomato Bread recipe in Marcus Samuelsson’s New American Table cookbook which I immediately decided I wanted to try. This is one cookbook that I didn’t purchase myself but instead received as part of a prize package I got a few years back and probably haven’t looked at it since. This also marks the first time I attempted to make bread, yes, I have made banana bread and such in the past but, I guess I should clarify that it’s the first time I am making a yeast bread. I’ve only baked with yeast once before, just this past holiday actually, and it was disastrous. I tried to make cinnamon rolls from scratch but my yeast never properly dissolved and reacted with the water so the rolls were a mess, but, they did smell good. Luckily this time my results were a complete 180. I can’t even tell you how happy I was when my loaves actually expanded while they rested prior to me putting them in the oven… Sometimes it really is the little things in life.
I began by preparing the sun-dried tomato – kalamata olive – garlic paste that I ultimately kneaded into the dough. I soaked chopped sun-dried tomatoes in water for ten minutes and after patting them dry I combined them with chopped kalamata olives. To prepare the garlic I cooked four unpeeled cloves in olive oil for about twenty minutes until they were softened and then squeezed the pulp from the cloves into the mixture. I then mashed all three items together with a spoon to form the paste.
Next I combined the yeast, salt and water in a bowl and let it sit in a warm area until the yeast activated. While the recipe called for fresh yeast I used dry yeast instead. I was able to find the dry equivalent after doing a quick Google search. At first nothing happened with my water, but, after reading the back of the yeast packet I learned that I needed to add a bit of sugar to get the process going. It wasn’t long after that the yeast was ready.
I poured that into the center of the two flours – unbleached all-purpose and wheat flour – the recipe called for.
After some kneading the dough was ready to be incorporated with the tomato-olive-garlic paste.
After some more kneading I formed the dough into two loaves which I placed in prepared (sprayed with non-stick cooking spray) loaf pans.
I covered them and let them rest for one hour in a warm area so they could double in size. My warm area ended up being right on top of my stove while the oven was on. And boy did they double…
I then brushed the tops of the loaves with olive oil – I used the same olive oil that I cooked the garlic in to add a little extra flavor – and sprinkled some salt and freshly chopped marjoram on top.
I baked them in a 375 degree preheated oven for 30 minutes uncovered and then another 25 minutes covered with aluminum foil. After letting the loaves rest in the pan on the wire rack for ten minutes I then removed them so they could cool completely.
After cooling overnight I sliced them up and am happy to say that baking with yeast this time was a success for me! This bread is delicious!
Sun-Dried Tomato Bread Recipe
Servings: 2 Loaves
1/2 cup roughly chopped sun-dried tomatoes
2 tbsp olive oil
4 garlic cloves, unpeeled
1/4 cup kalamata olives, pitted and roughly chopped
2 oz fresh yeast (approximately 7 tsp. dry yeast)
2 1/2 tsp salt
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
2 cups whole-wheat flour
2 marjoram sprigs, chopped
1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
2. Soak the sun-dried tomatoes in cold water for 10 minutes. Rinse and pat dry.
3. Heat the olive oil in a small saute pan over low heat. Add the garlic cloves and cook until softened, shaking the pan occasionally, about 20 minutes. Let cool slightly, then squeeze the pulp from the cloves into a bowl and mix with the olives and sun-dried tomatoes to form a paste.
4. Combine the yeast, 2 teaspoons of the salt, and 2 cups lukewarm water in a mixing bowl. Stir to dissolve, then let sit in a warm place until the yeast begins to bubble, 5 to 10 minutes.
5. Place the all-purpose flour and whole wheat flour in a large bowl and make a well in the center. Pour the yeast liquid into the well. Slowly combine the liquid with the flour. Using your hands, work the flour and liquid together to form a dough. On a lightly floured work surface, knead the dough until smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes. Add the tomato-olive mixture and knead until fully incorporated, about 5 minutes.
6. Divide the dough in half and form into 2 loaves. Transfer to two greased 81/2 x 41/2-inch loaf pans. Cover and let rest in a warm spot until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.
7. Brush the tops of the loaves with olive oil and sprinkle with the remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt and the marjoram. Place the loaf pans in the oven and bake for 30 minutes. Cover the pans with aluminum foil and bake for another 30 minutes.
8. Remove the loaves from the oven and let cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Remove the loaves from the pans and let cool completely on the racks.