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Monday, October 10, 2011

Sourdough Garden Tomato Bread

Wild Yeast Garden Tomato and Herb Bread

I have been thinking about this bread ever since Cathy from Bread Experience shared her recipe for a Garden Tomato Bread.  I was amazed that her recipe had no water, really: wouldn't the juice from the tomatoes be somewhat acidic?  Would that interfere with the action of the yeast?  I was very curious to see how it might work.

Cathy's version used commercial yeast, of course, but I wanted to use only wild yeast.  Still, her recipe was very easy to convert to sourdough.

This is a 50% whole wheat, 50% all-purpose loaf.  Here is the recipe as I translated it:

  • 395g Sourdough Build (84%, so 215g flour, 180g water)
  • 1000g Flour (50% bread flour, 50% whole wheat flour)
  • 680g tomato chunks ( 3 1/2 c chunks, plus 1/4 c seeds and juice)
  • 37g tomato paste (2 Tbsp)
  • 17g salt (3 1/2 tsp)
  • 36g pumpkin seeds (1/4c)
  • 33g sunflower seeds (1/4c)
  • 20g garlic (1 Tbsp minced)
  • 1/4 c fresh parsley
  • 2 Tbsp fresh sage
  • 1 Tbsp fresh thyme
  • 1/2 tsp fresh pepper
One of the red heirloom tomatoes is already 260g

2 heirlooms and 2 orange hybrids and I'm already up over the suggested weight for tomatoes

This heirloom tomato has lots of flavour but doesn't seem to have a lot of juice

Chopped tomatoes in a seive

Without squeezing the chunks, most of the juice remains in the tomato flesh

Once I pressed the bits, I had about a cup of juice and 2 cups of tomato "meat"

Mis en place

Basil, Parsley, thyme, fresh from the garden and chopped
I mixed everything up except for paste, garlic, salt and seeds

After a 20 minute autolyse, I added the remaining ingredients and 50ml of water

Turned every 30 minutes for abut 4 hours
Near the end, just before dividing and forming the loaves

Turned out onto the counter just before dividing into 2

Into the basket to prove for a few more hours

What I changed
In practice, when you are dealing with garden tomatoes, you never really know what sort of hydration you are going to get: some tomatoes are meaty, some are juicy.  Cathy discusses how much hydration you will need, by the cupful amounts.  But I was a little more lax with my amounts.  I went mostly by feel, simply using her amounts as a ballpark figure.  I had lots of tomatoes, and with only 4 tomatoes I was up past the 680g mark: but although I thought these tomatoes were not very juicy, I ended up with a cup of juice but only about 2 cups of tomato flesh when I squeezed them a bit. I used all of the tomatoes, despite the fact that I was over the weight that her recipe calls for.  I had 433g of tomato flesh, and 255g of tomato juice -- for a total of 688g.  That's pretty darn close, even if the ratio of flesh:juice is not the same as hers.

As for the herbs, I just grabbed handfuls from the herb beds, and I didn't actually measure it that closely.  I tried to get more parsley, and I tried to get less thyme.

My sourdough is 100% hydration, and uses whole wheat.  I used 395g, but didn't change the hydration.  Mine is wetter.

Despite that, I was afraid I wouldn't have enough moisture in the dough.  I used all of the 1 cup of juice; between that and the moist tomato meat, I thought the dough felt pretty good.  Still, I added 50 ml of water after a short autolyse, when I added the salt, seeds, paste and garlic.

I added no pepper.  I'm not a fan, since it is a carcinogen.  I was thinking that, next time I made this bread, if I felt it needed something peppery, I could add some nasturtium leaves from my garden, along with the other herbs.

Marvelous.  Wonderfully fragrant.  Exceedingly tasty with end-of-season fresh garden ingredients.

This made a most excellent, flavourful bread.  The dough felt effervescent when worked, and it had a fluffiness and cohesiveness that I have rarely seen in the mixtures I've used.  The wild yeast must have been at its peak, and it worked perfectly.  In short, the wild yeast loved the acidic tomato juice and thrived.

I sent one of these breads to family for Thanksgiving -- report still pending on how they liked it -- and I took half a loaf with me to work to share with co-workers.  They liked it okay.

Thanks for the recipe, Cathy!  Please check out Cathy's recipe at the Bread Experience for further details on this bread and for ideas for your own loaves.

Notes to Myself
  • Try nasturtium leaves and flowers along with the other herbs for a peppery taste without pepper.
  • If this works, why can't you just add salsa (or perhaps even that nice tomatillo salsa verde we just made) to the bread?
  • Or dill pickle juice bread, with lots of chunks of dill pickles?  I've made something like this before.
  • Make a 100% whole wheat version.
  • Try adding garden tomatoes to a basic Tartine-style loaf.

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