Recipe: Tomato Salad Bread


Photo by Aglaia Kremezi

In the winter, when vine-ripened tomatoes are not available, use sun-dried tomatoes with some of the more flavorful cherry ones (See Note).

Yields 2 laganes (focaccia-like flat breads)

• 2 cups fine semolina or pasta flour
    • 3 cups all purpose flour
    • 1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
    • 1 cup barley flour (optional) or 1 more cup whole wheat flour
    • 2 teaspoons instant dry yeast
    • 2 teaspoons salt
    • 3 1/2 teaspoons mixed ground coriander seeds, caraway, and mahlep (optional)
    • 1/2 teaspoon ground white pepper (optional)
    • 2 ½ cups tomato-onion-caper pulp (see NOTE)
    • 4 tablespoons olive oil, and more for the bowl and to drizzle on the bread
    • About 1 cup spring water (non-chlorinated), or more, as needed
    • 2 cups coarsely grated or shaved graviera or aged cheddar cheese
    • 2-3 beefsteak tomatoes cut into very thin slices, or several cherry tomatoes, halved
    • Good pinch Greek oregano (optional) and/or freshly ground black pepper

Place flours, yeast, and spices in the bowl of a standing mixer and toss with a spatula. Make a well in the center and add 2 1/2 cups tomato pulp and the olive oil. Fit the bowl to the mixer and work with the dough hook on low for 1 minute. With the motor running add water as needed and work the dough for 5 minutes or more, occasionally stopping to turn the dough over with a large spatula. The dough should still be wet and sticky, but should start to come off the sides of the bowl. If too dry, add a little more water, if too wet add a few tablespoons all purpose flour.

Lightly oil a large transparent, or semi-transparent bowl, as well as a piece of plastic wrap. Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured surface and shape into a ball. Transfer to the oiled bowl. Cover with the oiled plastic wrap and let rise until double its original volume: about 1 hour or more.

(When the dough has expanded to about 1 1/2 times its size you may transfer the bowl with the dough to the refrigerator, and leave it overnight and up to 24 hours. It will continue to rise slowly. Before proceeding further, bring to room temperature).

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface, and halve with a spatula.


Photo by Aglaia Kremezi

Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper and place one piece of dough on each. Wet your fingers and press the dough, making dimples with wet fingers, expanding the dough out to fill the baking sheet. Cover with oiled plastic wraps and let the laganes rise for another 30 minutes--they won't rise much.

Preheat the oven to 450°F.

Spread the cheese over each of the breads, to cover the surface. Press with your palm so that the cheese sticks in the dough, and top with tomato slices. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with oregano and/or freshly ground pepper.

Turn on the broiler and place the first baking sheet 5-6 inches from the flame. Bake for about 6 minutes, until the tomatoes start to sizzle and the cheese melts.

Move the bread to the bottom of the oven, and slide the other baking sheet into the vacated space, close to the flame. After 5-6 minutes, turn off the broiler and lower the heat to 375°F.

Transfer the second bread close to the bottom of the oven, below the first, and continue baking for another 15 minutes, changing once more the positions of the breads--always at the lower part of the oven. Check that the first bread is well browned on top and bottom; if not, bake it a bit longer. When done, transfer to a rack to cool, and bake the second bread a few minutes more.

Let cool for 5-10 minutes, and slice to serve.

NOTE: To make the tomato pulp with summer vine-ripened tomatoes, puree in the blender 2-3 medium tomatoes with 1 small onion, and 1 tablespoon drained and rinsed capers.

In the winter, in 1/3 cup warm water, soak 5 good quality sun-dried tomatoes (NOT the ones kept in jars with olive oil) for about 20 minutes. Transfer the tomatoes and their liquid to the blender, together with 8-10 large cherry tomatoes, 1 small onion and 1 tablespoon drained and rinsed capers.