Despite having just been to Poland, I am actually going to just write up our favourite recipe at the moment. We simply cannot get enough of this tomato bread. My father (hi dad) arrived this morning to stay with us. As mentioned before, he cannot have any salt in his diet, none whatsoever. My family do tend to have their share of food intolerances! Everything has to be made from scratch and even using dried active yeast is a no no as it has salt in it. So I began making this bread in February and dad says that it gets better every time I make it, not sure if that means the first batch wasn’t any good but hey we still ate it. We literally devour this bread, it barely gets to cool down before it’s all gone. I use fresh yeast as it contains no salt but you can easily use dried instead. I am a firm believer that if you can get away with going simpler then do. For example, this type of bread usually requires fresh tomatoes, blanched and peeled but I actually just use a tin of good quality tinned tomatoes (something we always have in the pantry). If I can cheat, I will! So I am whipping up a batch of this bread and it will accompany the two soups I’m making for his lunches, chicken noodle and roasted red pepper soups. I do notice the lack of salt but they still taste fresh and yummy. So here is my take on Tomato bread…

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TOMATO, RED ONION AND FENNEL BREAD

  • 30g fresh yeast (or 7g dried yeast)
  • 150ml tepid water
  • 1/2 tsp of sugar
  • 500g strong white flour
  • 1 red onion, chopped (nice and chunky)
  • 2 tbsp fennel seeds
  • 1 tin of good quality tinned tomatoes
  • 8 semi sun dried tomatoes
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • pinch of dried chillis
  • pinch of oregano

THE HOW

Mix the sugar into the water to dissolve. Crumble the yeast into a bowl and add the water. Mix until a smooth paste forms. Leave aside until the mix if frothy.

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Put the flour in a bowl and make a well in the center with a wooden spoon

Add the yeasted liquid to the well and with the wooden spoon draw in enough flour from the sides to form a thick paste.

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Cover with film or a damp tea towel and leave aside until it has expanded and frothy. Most recipes tell you this takes an hour or so, I got kinda impatient waiting so after about 20-30 minutes I usually start my next step.

In a frying pan add a tiny drizzle of oil. Add the onion and on a high heat fry. I like the onion to crisp up slightly but not fully soften or cook through (about 1 minute in the pan), which adds more flavour and chunkiness to the bread. Add the fennel seeds just to toast lightly. Then add the tinned tomatoes, puree, sun dried tomatoes (I make my own by popping tomatoes cut in half into an oven on low heat for 2 hours), chilli and oregano to the pan. Stir to warm through and take off the heat.

Add tomato mix to the yeast and flour bowl.
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Mix with the spoon or with your hands, whichever you prefer and form a doughy ball.
Turn out onto a floured surface and kneed for 10 minutes until the ball is smooth and elastic.
Put in an oiled bowl and cover again. Leave until it has doubled in size. I put it on the kitchen windowsill where it is warm with the sun but you can put it anywhere that is vaguely warm like the airing cupboard. This takes about an hour to double in a warm climate, otherwise 2 hours in cooler place.

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Knock back and with floured hands cup the dough and form into a tighter round by turning with your hands and applying a light downwards pressure to the sides. This is called chafing. Pop onto a baking tray and leave for about 30-40 minutes to prove (to rise for the final time). Heat your oven at this stage to 190°c (fan oven) or gas mark 5.

When the dough has had its final rise, pop into the oven for 35 mintues.  I usually put a pan of water in the oven too for the effect of steam which isn’t a must but helps it rise more and give a better colour. To check if ready, turn the bread upside down and tap it. If it sounds slightly hollow then it is done.

I know it’s hard but try to let the bread cool before munching away…

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