Homemade tomato basil bread has long been on my recipe most wanted list and I finally found a good one a couple of weeks ago. It was at a Panera Bread restaurant many years ago that I first had some on a sandwich. So many years ago that it might have still been called St Louis Bread Company! They also sold it along with their many other bakery items. I’d alternate between buying their sourdough and tomato basil breads. While I had long been baking yeasted breads, it was long before I started baking my own sourdough.
What Makes a Good Loaf of Bread?
There are several aspects that make, to me, a great loaf of bread. High on that list is what happens when a slice is toasted. The tomato basil bread made excellent toast as well as being a solid base for all types of sandwiches. In particular a classic bacon, lettuce, and tomato sandwich. It does have a very tomato-forward taste so if not a tomato fan then one might pass. The only negative aspect, for me, is the topping used on the Panera Bread version. It gets soggy after just a couple of days, ruining what is otherwise fine. This recipe includes the topping but I omitted it.
Ingredients in Tomato Basil Bread
The ingredients list is pretty straightforward except for the tomato powder. I was able to easily find it on Amazon. Took the opportunity to buy some New Mexico chili powder as well! This recipe uses sifted bread flour for crust texture and strength. I drained the sun-dried tomatoes in a colander for about 30 minutes, and then chopped them. The dough came together easily, and I kneaded it by hand for close to ten minutes, after about five minutes in the mixer.
The original loaf from Panera is one of the larger loaves I’ve seen. My largest loaf pan is a 9×5, so I was hoping it would be enough. The Panera version is made from two cylinders and that same approach is used here.
Sandwiches Using Tomato Basil Bread
While I got a few photos during the dough preparation, I did not get one of the finished loaf. Photos of it being used for sandwiches or toast will have to do!
Book a reservation at The Sidecar Inn to try this homemade tomato basil bread, or one of the other freshly baked breads made in house. Loaves are often available for sale, both to guests and to locals.