Bread is not something I make daily, at least not often, but I do usually make some kind of bread at least a few times a week. Sometimes I just stick with quick breads if it is an especially busy week and other times I really crave the kneading process and the taste of freshly-baked yeast breads.
I have found that bread making easily fits in with my stolen moments methods. Most recipes are surprisingly quick to put together, especially after the first time. Whenever I can snag 15 to 30 minutes in the kitchen, I love throwing together a loaf of bread.
This bread is a family favorite. It goes with so many different meals and soups, and it’s good on its own as a snack. Or, eat the way I like to – fresh out of the oven with a hunk of butter. I figure it is important to taste the bread I’m serving my family before I actually serve it to them. Honest, it’s all for their benefit!
Tomato Basil Bread
- 1 pkg. active dry yeast (or 2 1/4 t. yeast)
- 3/4 c. warm water
- 1/4 c. minced fresh basil (or 2 t. dried basil, oregano, or Italian seasoning)
- 1/4 c. grated Parmesan cheese
- 2 T. tomato paste
- 1 T. sugar
- 1 T. olive oil
- 1 t. salt
- 1/8 – 1/4 t. crushed red pepper flakes
- 2 1/4 – 2 1/2 c. flour (I use half whole wheat flour, half white flour)
1. In a mixing bowl, dissolve yeast in water. Stir in basil, Parmesan cheese, tomato paste, sugar, oil, salt, pepper flakes and 2 c. flour. Stir in enough remaining flour to form a stiff dough. Turn onto a floured surface; knead until smooth and elastic, about 3-5 minutes. Place in a greased bowl, turning once to grease top. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1 hour.
2. Punch dough down; knead for 1 minute. Shape into a round loaf. Place on a greased baking sheet. Cover and let rise until doubled, about 1 hour. With a sharp knife, cut a large X in top of loaf. Bake at 375 degrees for 35-40 minutes or until golden brown. (I would recommend you start checking after 25 minutes. My bread always seems to be done by 30 minutes.) Remove from pan to a wire rack to cool.