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Tomato bread

As I have said many times before, I am not a good gardener. However, this year I planted one cherry tomato plant which I bought in Aldi - yes they have everything - and it has been amazingly abundant. Every day I pick a handful of tiny cherry tomatoes. Well not absolutely tiny but well below the size of the ones you find in the shops.

What to do with them all? Of course we just eat them. I snack on them throughout the day, and sometimes I put them in our green salad but we never seem to get through them all. They are too small to oven dry I think, and so today, as we are having soup and have no fresh bread, I thought I would make some kind of tomato bread. My first thought was a damper kind of bread, and I looked in my wonderful Tomato Cookbook from the Australian Women's Weekly and found this. Which is not a damper bread, even though I thought it was. It's called Caramelised onion and tomato bread. It's a very old book - 1997 - so the recipe does not exist on the web. Basically it's a bread dough made with olive oil and buttermilk, which, when it's proven, you slash and fill the slash with a topping of caramelised onion and tomato. Leave to rise again and then cook. I suppose it's a sort of thick focaccia. It wasn't quite what I wanted to do, and besides I could always make my usual focaccia and top it with the tomatoes.

I flipped through all their other bread recipes - including muffins and scones and found that all of them used sun dried tomatoes. Not what I am looking to use, and, as I said, these were too small to oven dry. So, because I wasn't sure what to do at the time I warmed up my leftover Cornish pasty for lunch, I put a handful of the tomatoes to semi roast alongside it, thinking that this might be sort of half-way to oven dried.

Then I started browsing the web in earnest and found more or less straightaway Italian herb tomato bread from a website called Bunsen Burner Bakery. This guy sort of confirmed the Women's Weekly experience in that, he said, there were virtually no recipes on the net for tomato soda bread/damper using fresh cherry tomatoes. They all used sun-dried ones, or tomato paste - or even tomato ketchup. Mmm. And so he had made up this recipe from other bread recipes of his. And it does also look pretty nice and is almost what I want, but he purées the tomatoes. Which does not appeal to me. Sure I could just not purée them, but I decided that my searching techniques might be better than his, and I might actually find something better.

But you know I think he's right. There is no really satisfactory recipe out there for a damper like bread with cherry tomatoes in it.

I did find one for scones - which I guess are sort of the same as damper. It was from a cheese maker called Cabot, which I suspect is American and is called Tomato, spinach and cheddar scones. I don't have any spinach, but that's alright. I could either leave them out or substitute some kale from the garden. My silver beet did absolutely nothing this summer - which just proves what a bad gardener I am. Anyone is supposed to be able to grow silver beet. And I could make a loaf rather than scones, But this recipe and a few others too, did emphasise that scones, and soda bread don't keep. They go mouldy. And yes they do because my last batch of zucchini and cheese scones did go mouldy before I could eat them all - in a couple of days.

So I then remembered fougasse, which is a French bread from Provence which has slashes filled with olives, and I wondered whether you could use tomatoes instead. It's related to focaccia but is baked on a stone rather than a tin and is therefore crispier. Well that's the story anyway.

"Fougasse was traditionally used to assess the temperature of a wood fired oven. The time it would take to bake gives an idea of the oven temperature and whether the rest of the bread can be loaded." Wikipedia

I looked some more and this did indeed look a bit more promising, certainly something that was not an extreme experiment or something that would go off in a day. These are just two that I found - Red onion, cherry tomato and rosemary fougasse from the BBC and Fougasse with tomatoes, olives and peppers from Perfectly Provence.

Neither were quite what I had in mind - well I don't have any peppers. So as usual I'm going to create a kind of hybrid, using the focaccia dough that I usually make, with a filling of onions, and tomatoes flavoured with garlic, basil and oregano. I still have a few leaves of basil left. I also saw somewhere that somebody used manchega as the cheese in the dough - which I might do as we have a small bit that needs using up. Maybe one of those little bits of brie that are floating around too. And look I am making focaccia. Maybe I should just go back to the original recipe that I rejected. No the fougasse looks pretty.

Ok - I'd better get going or it will be too late.


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