Sourdough Tomato Basil Bread

I wanted to try something different with the sourdough loaf this weekend. I had a lot of cherry tomatoes and some basil that needed to be used up. This tomato basil bread was an experiment that turned out great. I baked this bread the weekend spring break started. My daughter left for a sleep over and I wanted a simple lunch. Flavored bread seemed perfect. Besides I had not used the sourdough starter for a few weeks and it needed to be fed. I used a third of the fed starter for this recipe and the rest to make buns for lunch the next day.

With sourdough I prefer to go by feel rather than a recipe. I used to go with exact weight measurements for all the ingredients when I first started with sourdough bread. I now rely more on feel than measurements.

I mixed the whole wheat flour with the sourdough starter and added the salt. I then mixed in the diced basil along with the sliced cherry tomatoes with the juice. I started with 40% water and felt I needed to go up to 60%. That along with the juice from the tomatoes brought up the hydration to 80%. That is just about where I like it. I followed the process for any other boule except that I did not bake it in a dutch oven. I baked it on an sheet in a 500 F oven. I then spread about a fourth of a teaspoon of ghee over the top and put it back in the oven for about 6 minutes. I lowered the oven temperature to 425 F. Perfect loaf with nice crumb and great taste. I call that a successful experiment.

You will need
12 cherry tomatoes
5-6 leaves basil
100 gm freshly fed starter
100 gm whole wheat flour
60 gm water
4 gm salt
1 tsp. cayenne pepper powder (adjust to taste)

1/4 tsp ghee or butter

Feed the starter and keep aside for 20-30 minutes. I usually keep 50 gm of starter in the refrigerator. I add equal parts flour and water to feed it. I add as much as I need to make the bread and have 50 gm left over to return to the refrigerator. Since I had not used the starter for a while, I first fed it 50 gm of water and 50 gm of flour. I kept that on the counter top for about an hour until it got bubbly. I then added 100 gm of water and 100 gm of flour to it. After another 20-30 minutes it was ready to use. 50 gm went back to the refrigerator, 100 gm went into this recipe, the rest went into making rolls.

Slice the cherry tomatoes and dice the basil. Keep aside. In a bowl combine the starter, the flour and salt. Let it sit for half an hour. Add the tomatoes and basil and fold them into the dough. Keep aside covered.

Over the next hour stretch and fold the dough to strengthen it. Cover and keep aside for about 5 hours. Transfer the dough to a floured work surface and gently fold the sides in. Flip and form a round ball with the seam underneath.

Place in a floured bowl, cover and keep overnight in the refrigerator. The next day preheat the oven to 500 F. Place a sheet in the oven when the temperature is 400 F. Alternately, place a baking stone in the oven. Remove the dough from the refrigerator and transfer to a floured work surface. Score the top with a sharp razor blade. I scored it like a pie making 6 portions.

Transfer the scored loaf to the sheet in the oven. Bake for 12-15 minutes. Turn down the heat to 475 F and bake for another 10 minutes or until the bread is cooked through. Remove from oven and spread a little ghee or butter over the top. Lower the heat to 425 F and return the bread to the oven for another 5-6 minutes. The top should brown. Remove from heat.

Allow it to cool completely before slicing.



  1. I was wondering if I could use raw tomato in my bakes. I was tempted to use it in pizza bread, did not want to experiment too much and went safe sticking to the recipe. Will try it next time.

    Your tomato basil bread turned out great.

  2. Wow wow.. That would have been so flavorful... Loving all your breads..

  3. Not a tomato fan and I eat it when I don't get to see it. :) However the tomato pieces are making this bread beautiful to look at.

  4. With all your experience with bread baking its only natural.. The flavors look and sound great . Love basil in baking , it lends a beautiful aroma.

  5. Love the basil and tomato. Great flavorful bread.

  6. i somehow felt it would be sundried tomatoes, just assumption based on what i often read but i am surprised to find cherry tomatoes , as in pleasantly surprised..this one has also got a great crust within

  7. Varada I love the way you bake your breads, they have a excellent crust, thistoo amazing.

  8. Such a rustic look, am sure this bread will definitely please my tastebuds..

  9. You are now a pro in sourdough baking -- hence the baking by feel. That is amazing because now you don't have to look for recipes -- any idea that pops in the head can be tried right away.
    That sourdough tomato basil bread looks colorful and sounds very flavorful.

  10. Such a gorgeous looking bread..perfectly baked.

  11. Looks such a stunner Varada, must have been a delicious dinner!

  12. Baking by intuition is such a gifted skill.. These sourdough breads hv been so fabulous

  13. Awesome bread, Varada. Love the tomatoes peeking in there.

  14. lovely bread, i too tried this flavor with overnight bread!!! Looks awesome!!

  15. Such a gorgeous loaf that is Varada! Love the specks of tomato peeking out in the bread.

  16. Nice detailed explanation Varada. Those tomatoes have added a nice twist. great experiment...


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