Friday, May 12, 2006

Sundried Tomato Parmesan Bread

Sundried Tomato Parmesan Bread
Originally uploaded by wanderingcoyote.

You too can make beautiful artisan breads at home! I made this loaf this afternoon and baked it, as you can see, on my pizza stone (a Pampered Chef product). Most loaves I make at home I do in a pan, but I was in the mood to practice shaping a loaf free-form today, which was all we did in culinary school.

The recipe is a souped-up version of the white bread recipe in my Cordon Bleu Complete Cook book, an excellent resource for basic French cooking and baking using easy to find ingredients, and containing uncomplicated recipes that have well-written instructions. There is a great section at the end called "Chef's Techniques" that shows you step-by-step methods for many of the classical techniques. It's a big book that cost me $45 minus my 30% Crapters employee discount a few years ago, and I highly recommend it if you want to learn the basics. Great pictures, too.

Sundried Tomato Parmesan Bread

1 tbsp quick yeast
1 1/4 - 1 1/2 cups very warm water
1 tbsp sugar
4 cups bread flour
1 tsp salt
6 oil packed sundried tomatoes, chopped finely
1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
approx. 1 tbsp olive oil from the jar of oil packed sundried tomatoes
1 egg for egg wash

Basically, follow the directions from my Bread Baking Tutorial post, adding the cheese and sundried tomatoes with the dry ingredients.

Watch your water amount in this recipe; I needed far more than what was called for. Just make sure you have a nice, elastic, smooth,pliable dough. You don't want a dry, stiff dough or you'll get a dry, dense bread. Do make sure you proof and bake the bread with a pot of boiling water in the oven with the loaf; it makes all the difference. You don't have to use an egg wash, but it looks so nice. Don't worry about extra egg wash; it can be refrigerated for a week in an airtight container and used to make scrambled eggs for breakfast.

As far as shaping is concerned, you can do one of a few things. You can put this in a loaf pan and bake it that way. For the loaf pictured here, I rolled this into a tight ball and tapered off the ends. Or you can roll the dough into a rectangle with a rolling pin and make a tight sausage shape with it. You'd need a cookie sheet for baking it in this case. Whatever you do, make sure you bake the loaf seam side down.

The flavour of this loaf was impressive, as was the texture: soft but a bit chewy. Get creative: you can add herbs like basil and oregano, other types of cheeses like asiago or sharp cheddar, and things like olives or chopped artichokes. Sky's the limit, really.

Bon Appetit!


mister anchovy said...

tuffy and i are trying to avoid all those delicious and fattening bread I haven't baked any bread since paska time....this is so tempting though!!!

Tania said...

That looks so amazing and yummy! *drool*


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