My inspiration for this bread was my favorite grilled cheese sandwich, which includes a slice of tomato and a sprinkle of dried oregano. And if fresh tomatoes are out of season, that grilled cheese sandwich with a sprinkle of oregano pairs perfectly with a bowl of tomato soup.
This recipe uses tomato powder, which can be found at some spice shops and online. Or, if you have a food dehydrator, you can dry tomatoes then grind them to a powder.
If neither of those options are available, I'd suggest using tomato paste. You might need to add a little more flour or reduce the water a bit to compensate for the moisture in the paste.
My favorite cheese for grilled cheese is colby, but I used a sharp cheddar for this to boost the cheesy flavor.
This bread exceeded all of my expectations. The bits of cheese that were close to the crust browned nicely, just like those bits of cheese that drip out of the sandwich and get a little brown and crunchy in the pan, or like the browned bubbles on a broiled open-faced sandwich. The tomato flavor was definitely there, and the hint of oregano was perfect.
I'm usually patient about waiting for bread to cool before I cut into it, but this one was trying my patience. I didn't cut it, but I kept going back to inhale the amazing scent. Once I cut it, the color was just as enticing. It was a beautiful orange, almost the same color and the cheese that disappeared into it.
1 cup lukewarm water
2 1/4 teaspoons yeast
1 tablespoon sugar
2 1/2 cups (11 1/2 ounces) bread flour, divided
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon tomato powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 generous cup (4 ounces) coarsely shredded sharp cheddar cheese
2 tablespoons olive oil
In the bowl of your stand mixer, combine water, yeast, sugar, and one cup of the bread flour. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and set aside for 30 minutes.
Add the remaining flour, oregano, tomato powder, and salt. Knead with the dough hook until the dough cleans the side of the bowl and starts becoming elastic. Add the olive oil and continue kneading until the dough is smooth and elastic and is no longer sticky.
Add the cheese and knead just until it is incorporated. You don't want to knead so much that the cheese disintegrates into the bread. It it's a little unevenly distributed, that's fine.
Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and set aside to rise until doubled in size, about 60 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and sprinkle some cornmeal on a baking sheet.
Flour your work surface and knead the dough briefly before you form it into your preferred shape. Put it on the baking sheet, cover with plastic wrap, and set aside to rise until doubled in size, about 30 minutes.
When the dough has risen, slash it as desired, then bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes, until nicely browned.
Cookbook author and food writer for Serious Eats, Whisk Magazine, and the Left Hand Valley Courier, among others. Columnist at American Recycler. Blogger at www.cookistry.com and reviews.cookistry.com.