My father is an avid gardener, spending countless hours every year harvesting a variety of vegetables. This means that our family is gifted with treats like fresh basil and my favorite — fresh tomatoes!! This bounty comes in so fast and furious that we often end up scratching our heads wondering what we can cook to use the tomatoes while they’re still fresh. This year, I had a lightbulb moment: Why not bake with them??
Now, I was able to find dozens of tomato recipes ranging from scones to biscuits to breads, BUT nearly all of them either called for jarred sun-dried tomatoes or canned diced tomatoes. Finally, I stumbled upon this recipe from Little Ferraro Kitchen that uses vine-fresh tomatoes. The result? A soft, savory, challah-like bread infused with herbs and tomato sweetness.
Savory Tomato Challah Bread
Makes 2 large challah breads
- 4 cups all purpose flour + more for kneading, sifted
- 1 cup lukewarm water
- 1 packet yeast (1/4oz)
- 1 Tb sugar
- 2 Tb honey
- 2 tsp kosher salt
- 1/4 cup vegetable
- 2 eggs + 1 yolk (save white for egg wash)
- Coarse sea salt + freshly chopped herbs (for garnishing challah)
- 1 pint cherry tomatoes
- 4-5 garlic cloves, peel removed
- Olive oil, for drizzling
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- 1/2 cup feta, crumbled
- Fresh herbs (basil, rosemary, oregano, etc), chopped finely
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, add 1 cup warm water, yeast and sugar. Mix lightly with a fork to get all the yeast in the water and set aside for about 15 minutes. It should begin to foam up and you should see little bubbles.
- Next, add eggs, oil and honey and whisk together.
- Using a dough attachment on your mixer, gradually add sifted flour and salt, about 1/2 cup at a time with the mixer on low. Continue to mix until everything is incorporated. The dough should begin to pull away from the bowl and come to 1 large ball of dough.
- Turn the dough onto a very well floured surface and knead for about 5 minutes. You can use your finger to see if it’s ready. Press your finger in and if the dough bounces back quickly, it’s ready.
- In a large bowl, pour a bit of oil in and place your dough ball in the bowl. Turn it around so the entire dough is covered with a thin layer of oil. Cover with a clean towel and place bowl in a warm spot. (for me, it was my oven). Allow to rest and rise for 1 1/2hours until doubled in size.
- When dough is ready, it should have doubled in size. Punch the dough down and knead a bit to soften. Divide dough into 2 balls, this will be your challahs. Cover 1 ball of dough as you work with the other.
- Divide dough into 3 pieces, this will be your braid strands.. Take 1 of the strands and roll making a long snake, about 15 inches long, but it should be thick enough to stuff, about 1-2inches thick. Use a rolling pin to flatten the strand.
- Next use a teaspoon to fill the strand. Don’t overfill, leaving the ends along. Bring the strand together, pinching with your fingers and making sure no filling peeks out (but it’s ok it some does). Once strands are sealed, gently roll the strands and begin breading.
- Line 3 strands together and pinch at 1 end. Braid a 3-strand bread and pinch the bottom end together.
- Place on baking sheet and cover challah with a towel. Allow to rise for another 30 minutes.
- When done, Brush challahs with egg wash and sprinkle with coarse sea salt and freshly chopped herbs.
- Bake at 375 degrees F for 30 minutes then bring the temperature down to 350 degrees F for 10 minutes.
- Allow to cool before cutting.
- In a baking dish, toss together the cherry tomatoes, garlic, olive oil, salt and pepper and herbs until well coasted. Roast at 400 degrees F for about 15 minutes until tomatoes begin to blister and garlic is soft. Allow to cool and add crumbled feta and fresh herbs.