Tomato Basil Bread (Whole Wheat)

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I’ll take any opportunity I can get to use herbs from my precious little herb garden I planted earlier this year. The leaves are not very big yet, but evidently (especially with basil) using baby leaves is perfectly fine, even good. Baby basil has a strong flavor, and I’m glad for it! It makes a mean tomato basil bread.

What really inspired me to make this bread was strolling around the Ames Farmer’s Market. While it is not very big, I still enjoying seeing all the different vendors, some of them selling very strange products.

For instance: Until last Saturday, I had never eaten bee pollen (on purpose, that is). When I came up to a honey seller’s booth and saw a jar of bee pollen, I exclaimed, “Wait, you’re supposed to eat that?!”

The old man nodded curtly and a small smile churned on his lips. “It’s good for lots of things,” he said. “Allergies, acne, weight loss…”

The list went on and on. While I didn’t completely believe all that he was saying, I instinctively said yes when he asked if I’d like to try some and then poured it out on my hand. It’s a weird flavor. Like honey except chalky and gross. And so far I’m neither dead nor cured of all my ailments (and I ate quite a bit), so opinion pending on its abilities.

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But anyway. Back to my herbs and this delicious bread I made. It has a very strong tomato-y flavor which is exactly what I wanted. The fresh basil tasted exceptionally delicious in there as well.

I love making bread. Even though it takes a bit of time to knead and let rise and what not, it just makes the perfect addition to a meal. And I feel so much better about eating homemade bread than the stuff from the stores.

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This particular loaf uses whole wheat and oatmeal, and there is a ton of flavor packed in. This bread will make excellent croutons, too. If it makes it that long, that is.

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Whole Wheat Tomato Basil Bread

INGREDIENTS:

1 tbsp yeast
1/2 cup warm water
1/4 cup fresh basil (or 2 tbsp dried basil)
1/2 cup tomato sauce
1/4 cup parmesan
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp honey
1 tsp salt
1 egg
4 cloves chopped garlic
2 cups whole wheat flour
1/4 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup finely processed oatmeal

METHOD:

1. Place yeast in warm water and let rest until foamy. In a separate bowl, combine flour, salt, and oatmeal. When yeast is ready, add  basil, tomato sauce, parmesan, olive oil, egg, garlic, and honey and stir well. Add flour mixture to the wet slowly. Mixture will be dry. Knead on a floured surface for five minutes, until elasticy. Form into a ball.

2. Spray a bowl with oil and place the dough ball inside, turning once to coat both sides. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let rise for about one hour or until doubled in size.

3. When dough has risen, punch it and then knead for 3 to 4 minutes. Place onto a sprayed cookie sheet, cover with plastic wrap, and let rise for 30 to 40 minutes more. Preheat oven to 375F.

4. When bread has risen, cut an x shape lightly on top of the bread ball and place in the oven. Bake for about 45 minutes.

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