Cheesy tomato basil quickbread
When I took my first bite of this savoury loaf, I thought I had a complete dud on my hands. However, having promised I’d bring something to work the next day, and it being around 10pm in the evening, I brought it along, hoping everyone would be polite about it. Instead, they were more than polite, so much so that I took this shot on my cellphone so you could see for yourself why my inner foodie had reservations. Basically, my homemade baking powder mixture seems to have lost its nerve, or maybe it just couldn’t rise under the crushing weight of all that melting cheese. Either way, it ended up dense and not fluffy at all. However, this seemed to be what a few people liked about it, since it was super moist, so by all means have a play with the quantities there (see below for recommendations).
Aside from the divisive attitudes about the texture, it had some serious cheesy umaminess going for it, tempered with a sweet/sour tang from the cherry tomatoes and a mild herbaceous-ness from the serious amount of basil in there. Slivered almonds (my new favourite thing to add to just about everything for a bit of perfect crunch) give the impression you’ve gone out and invested in pesto for this, whereas really, you just need a motherload of basil (which my community garden had plenty to supply). The other major bonus is that this is pretty easy overall (I’m trying to use one bowl for most of my baking).
Cheesy tomato basil quickbread
makes quite a lot – I used a deep pyrex 9″ square dish, but you can halve it to make a loaf tin or use the recipe as is for two loaves if that’s all you have tin-wise
- 200ml oil (I used extra virgin olive oil, but milder oils would be fine too)
- 1c water
- about 2c fresh basil
- 1 clove minced garlic (I actually used wild garlic greens, but since most people don’t have that, this is the next best thing)
- 1 T miso paste (or about 20g grated parmesan), or 1/2 T fine sea salt, but it won’t be as cheesy tasting
- 2 eggs
- 3 1/2c flour (pour the flour into the cups)
- 4 tsp baking powder*
- 200g feta, roughly crumbled
- about 1 1/2 c grated cheddar
- optional: handful of slivered almonds
- about 200g cherry tomatoes, halved
*If your baking powder works, then this should be plenty.
Place cherry tomato halves skin side down on a baking tray and pop in your oven, preheat it to 180C. Generously butter your baking dishes and dust with flour, knocking the flour around the pan to coat.
In a large bowl, blitz the first 5 ingredients with an immersion blender (or use a blender or food processor). Beat in eggs.
Sift over flour and baking powder. Scatter feta over top of flour, fold everything together until you get a very wet dough that’s bordering on cake batter (add water or flour to adjust if necessary). Scrape into your prepared baking vessels.
Remove tomatoes from oven, scrape over your batter and arrange evenly(ish). Scatter over grated cheese and then slivered almonds. Bake until a skewer inserted comes out clean. Cool and turn out. Cut into slices if your baking powder was dud too, otherwise cut however you like! Wrap in thick paper bag paper, and eat within 2 days.
PS. I’ve been enjoying some consistently delicious crusty artisan loaves thanks to Flour Water Salt Yeast (check the link for videos which really help show how easy it is). I’ve always been a lifelong fan of Artisan Bread in 5, however I had no idea why there was such variability in results when I slightly deviated from a recipe. Sure there are plenty of sciencier bread books out there (think Peter Reinhart), but all I wanted were the crucial things that would the make the most difference to me as a home cook. That’s where Flour Water Salt Yeast has really hit the nail on the head – empowering bread bakers to understand the variables that will affect various aspects of their bread without going overboard. I appreciate my digital scales a lot more, have reconceptualised time and temperature as ingredients in their own right, and have applied these new understandings to all breads that I bake, not just the ones in the book. It’s so liberating – I save a lot of anxious uncertainty about how a loaf might turn out if things don’t go exactly to plan.