Italian Herb Tomato Bread
Italian Herb Tomato Bread is a savory quick bread combining fresh tomatoes, Italian herbs, garlic, and cheese. Bake up some summer right in your kitchen with this easy tomato bread!
Once again, we’re sneaking in just under the wire for my Quick Bread of the Month. This month, we’re changing things up a bit and going savory. Typically “quick bread” conjures up the idea of a sweet, fruit-filled bread.
But really, any bread that doesn’t contain yeast is a quick bread – like this herby, cheesy, tomato bread. Summer is full of extra-ripe tomatoes and this is a great way to use them, paired with fresh herbs from your garden.
The inspiration for this tomato bread came from some leftover red and yellow tomatoes on the vine. I love focaccia with fresh tomatoes, so why not impart that flavor into a quick bread?
I tried searching for tomato quick bread recipes, but came up short. Really short.
Almost every recipe I found used tomato sauce, a can of crushed tomatoes, sundried tomatoes in oil, or in one instance – ketchup. (Ew.) No worries – I can forge this path on my own. To the experimental kitchen, STAT!
I wanted a bread baked with FRESH tomatoes – the perfect way to use all our ripe summer tomatoes from the garden. No tomatoes from a can! So if there isn’t a recipe like this out there, you know it means I’m going to forge ahead and create one myself.
Baking with Ratios
Savory quick breads are much easier than sweet, in my opinion, because there’s no need to worry about sugar. For a sweet quick bread, you want something sweet – but not too sweet. Too much or too little sugar completely changes the taste of the bread. A savory quick bread, however, is just about maintaining the proper ratio of flour, liquid, eggs, and fat.
For today’s kitchen chemistry we’re talking math – but don’t worry, it’s easy math. And it means you’ll be able to bake with a recipe! Let’s talk about the ratios I use when developing recipes.
For a perfect quick bread, use a 4:1 ratio of flour + liquid to fat + eggs. For a savory quick bread, use four times the weight of flour and liquid as fat and eggs.
Of course, there’s a little more to it. Milk is both a liquid and a fat. Eggs are roughly 75% water.
But if you’re like me and love this stuff, you’re ready to do the math. And if you don’t, well, that’s why you look to recipes from trusted sources like this to do the kitchen experimenting for you!
Ingredients and Substitutions
Now that we’ve talked about how this recipe works, let’s talk about what actually goes into it!
- Flour: All-purpose flour is the best, but you can substitute half the flour for whole wheat flour (you may need to add a little extra milk to compensate). You can also substitute a one-for-one gluten-free baking mix to keep the bread gluten-free.
- Baking Powder: Baking powder is essential for the rise, like a traditional quick bread.
- Baking Soda: Because the tomatoes are acidic, we’ll also add some baking soda.
- Salt: Use table salt or Morton’s kosher salt. If you use Diamond Crystal salt, adjust the amount as necessary.
- Egg: One large egg – if your tomatoes are not at all juicy, you can use two eggs.
- Vegetable Oil: Any neutral cooking oil will work here, like canola oil or grapeseed oil.
- Milk: I always bake with whole milk, but you can use a protein-rich dairy-free milk, like soy milk or pea milk. The protein is essential, so don’t swap with almond milk or a low-protein plant-based milk.
- Grated Cheddar: The cheese acts as both a binding agent and additional fat. If you eliminate the cheese to keep this bread dairy-free, add a second egg to the batter.
- Garlic: Fresh garlic, rather than frozen or jarred, will provide the best flavor.
- Fresh Tomatoes: Use medium-to-large, ripe, juicy tomatoes, not cherry tomatoes. The bread really relies on the flavor of the tomatoes so I recommend this for fresh summer tomatoes, not bland out-of-season grocery store tomatoes.
- Fresh Herbs: Basil and oregano are my favorites in this bread, but you could also use rosemary or thyme. Dried herbs can be used as well; aim for approximately one tablespoon of each.
Baking Bread with Fresh Tomatoes
Thanks to my handy dandy food processor, this tomato bread was really easy (once I figured out all those ratios mentioned above).
Add your ripe tomatoes, some roughly chopped garlic, and a big handful of basil and oregano right into the food processor. Pulse it a few times (10-15 1-second pulses worked for me) and stir it right on in with the rest of the ingredients. Everything else can be whisked by hand.
Don’t have a food processor? Use a blender, or chop it all by hand – just use a cutting board with a juice groove to catch the tomato juices. After all, that tomato juice is important to maintain the proper liquid ratio!
Batter Should Be Dry-ish
The biggest challenge in making a recipe like this is conveying what the proper texture of the batter should be.
Different tomatoes release different amount of juices, and while I can weigh my tomatoes for the recipe, the batter may still turn out drier or juicier. I’ve made this six times to recipe test and be sure, but the type of tomato you use definitely makes a big difference!
Use medium-large tomatoes, not carry tomatoes. Riper tomatoes are also juicier than unripe, so let your tomatoes fully ripen.
If you find that your tomatoes aren’t particularly juicy, add just a little more milk (or even an extra egg if your batter is REALLY dry) to make sure the mixture has just enough moisture to come together. Think biscuit or scone dough, not a traditionally ‘wet’ quick bread that pours from the bowl into the loaf pan.
Inversely, if you grow the juiciest, sweetest tomatoes, congratulations! But you may need to add an extra tablespoon or two of flour – remember, you want a dry biscuit-type dough, not a liquidy batter.
Recommended Tools for Fresh Tomato Bread
- Loaf Pan: I always bake with an 8.5 x 4.5-inch loaf pan. A 9 x 5-inch pan will work as well for this bread.
- Mixing Bowls: My favorite set of stackable glass mixing bowls.
- Food Processor: A food processor is the best way to chop the tomatoes, garlic, and herbs.
- Cooling Rack: This collapsable 3-tier cooling rack folds flat for storage but is sturdy enough to support the heavy loaf pan while cooling.
Tips and Tricks for the Best Italian Herb Tomato Bread
- Use ripe, fresh tomatoes! Tomatoes that aren’t quite ripe won’t be juicy enough and will result in dry, crumbly bread.
- That said, if your tomatoes aren’t juicy… add 2-3 tablespoons additional milk to get a moist, but not wet, batter.
- If the mixture is very wet, add an extra 2-3 tablespoons of flour. The dough should be wet enough that no dry streaks of flour remain, but not so wet that it is easily pourable.
- This tomato bread tastes even better the next day, after sitting out.
- For delicious uses, top with avocado and a fried egg, or use for savory French toast!
More Tomato Recipes:
- Tomato Basil Tortellini Salad
- Tomato and Zucchini Galette
- Gnocchi Skillet with Tomatoes and Sausage
- Corn Crab Tomato Salad
- Healthier Tomato Pie
2016 Quick Bread of the Month Series
- 3 cups (360 grams) all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 large egg
- 1/3 cup (66 grams) vegetable oil
- 1/3 cup (76 grams) milk
- 1 cup (113 grams) grated cheddar
- 3 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
- 1 pound (454 grams) fresh tomatoes
- large handful of fresh basil and oregano
- Preheat oven to 350 °F. Grease an 8.5 x 4.5-inch loaf pan.
- In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Stir in the egg, oil, and milk, followed by the grated cheese. The batter will be very thick.
- Combine the chopped garlic, tomatoes, basil, and oregano in a food processor. Using a series of 10-15 one-second pulses, chop the tomatoes and garlic until no large pieces remain, but mixture is not completely smooth.
- Fold the tomato and garlic mixture into the batter. Resulting batter will still be thick, but should be fully moist. If dry patches of flour remain, stir in an additional 2-3 tablespoons of milk. If batter is quite wet, stir in an additional 2-3 tablespoons of flour.
- Scoop the batter into the prepared loaf pan. Bake 45-50 minutes, until a tester inserted into the center of the bread comes out clean.
- Cool in pan for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack to continue cooling. Enjoy while still warm.
- Use fresh, ripe tomatoes for the best texture and flavor.
- If chopping tomatoes by hand, save all the juice that is released and pour it into the bowl.
- The bread is delicious topped with avocado and a fried egg, or used in savory french toast.
- Tomato bread can be stored at room temperature for up to 3 days, refrigerated for up to 5 days, or frozen for up to 3 months.
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Nutrition Information:Yield: 12 Serving Size: 1 slice
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 222Total Fat: 10.1gCarbohydrates: 25.8gProtein: 6.8g