Tomato Bruschetta on Homemade Bread

You know those recipes that aren't really recipes? This is one of them. I'm pretty sure there's a million "recipes" for bruschetta out there with different ratios of tomatoes to basil, but this is just my version. Nothing too fancy, just good homemade bread, ripe tomatoes, and fresh basil. This is my absolute favourite way to enjoy tomatoes - no cooking, no fussing, no worries. 

I've teamed up with Produce Candles again this month (check out last months collab, Passion fruit and mint sorbet). The scent for June is Tomato! And what a perfect scent for that spring-summer transition. Shorts are becoming an every day thing, sunscreen is being put on, and summer produce is hitting the farmers markets. While the first thing that you think of when you think of summer might not be to turn the oven to 450 F for two hours to make bread, it's worth it. There's nothing quite like a thick slice of homemade bread, toasted (or grilled!) to crunchy perfection, then topped with fresh and juicy tomatoes, herbs, and drizzled with olive oil. 

When I was a kid, my dad had a pretty big veggie garden in our backyard. He grew green beans, peas, carrots, strawberries, potatoes, broccoli, and tomatoes. I was never a big vegetable eating kid (are there such things?) but I liked eating veggies that we grew. And by we, I mean I helped dig up potatoes and I think that's all I ever did in the garden. 

I remember the smell of the tomato vines so well. That fresh, herbaceous, almost spicy scent that stuck to your hands when you picked the tomatoes. It stuck to your hands for hours afterwards. To me, that smell reminds me of summer afternoons spent playing in the backyard and helping my dad dig up potatoes and finding slugs on our strawberry plant (that wasn't very fun, actually). 

While I don't have my own tomato plant, I can still relish in the summery scent of the tomato candle and enjoy the fresh tomatoes on bread that came out of my own oven.

Overnight White Bread

900 g all-purpose flour
100 g whole wheat flour
780 g water, 90 to 95 F/ 32 to 35 C
22 g fine sea salt
0.8 g instant dried yeast


2 thick slices of bread
1 garlic clove
3 ripe tomatoes
sprig of fresh basil
drizzle of olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

For the bread, combine the flours with 780 g of water in a 12 quart (or equivalent) tub. Mix by hand until just incorporated. Cover and let rest for 20 to 30 minutes.

Sprinkle the 22 g of salt and the 0.8 g of yeast evenly over the top of the dough. Mix by hand, wetting your working hand before mixing so the dough doesn't stick to you. Reach underneath the dough and grab about one-quarter of the dough and gently stretch and fold it over the top to the other side. Repeat three more time with the remaining dough, until the salt and yeast are fully enclosed.

Use the pincer method (described in the 80% Biga Bread) to fully integrate the ingredients. Fold the dough over itself a few times, then repeat, alternately cutting and folding until all the ingredients are fully integrated and the dough has some tension in it. Let the dough rest for a few minutes, then fold for another 30 seconds or until the dough tightens up. The target dough temperature at the end of the mix is 77 to 78 F/ 25 to 26 C. Cover the tub and let the dough rise for 12 to 14 hours.

The dough needs two or three folds, preferably within the first hour and a half after mixing. This is best for maximum gas retention and volume in the finished loaf.

In the morning, moderately flour a work surface about 2 feet wide. Flour your hands and sprinkle a bit of flour around the edges of the tub. Tip the tub slightly and gently work your floured hand beneath the dough to loosen it form the bottom of the tub. Gently ease the dough out onto the work surface without pulling or tearing it.

With floured hands, pick up the dough and ease it back down onto the work surface in a somewhat even shape. Dust the area in the middle where you'll cut the dough with a bit of flour. Cut the dough into 2 equal size pieces.

Dust two proofing baskets (or equivalent) with flour. Shape each piece of dough into a medium-tight ball (described in the 80% Biga Bread). Place each seam side down in its proofing basket. Lightly flour the tops of the loaves, set them side by side, and cover them with a kitchen towel. 

Let them proof for about 1 1/4 hours, assuming your kitchen temperature is around 70 F/21 C. If your kitchen is warmer, the loaves will proof faster. Preheat the oven at this time, 475 F. Place your Dutch Oven on the middle rack with the lid on while the oven is preheating.

Use the finger dent test (in my basic bread dough recipe) to test if the loaves are proofed. If you only have one Dutch oven, put the second loaf in the fridge 20 minutes before you bake the first one.

Be very careful with the extremely hot dutch oven in this next step. Invert the proofed loaf onto a lightly floured countertop, keeping in mind that the top of the loaf will the side that was facing down while it was rising - the seam side. Remove the preheated Dutch oven from the oven, remove the lid, and carefully place the loaf in the Dutch oven seam side up. Cover and bake for 30 minutes, then remove the lid and continue to bake for a further 20 to 30 minutes, until at least medium dark brown around all the loaf. Check after 15 minutes of baking uncovered in case your oven runs hot.

Remove the Dutch oven and carefully tilt it to turn the loaf out. Place on a wire rack to let it cool, about 20 minutes. Put the Dutch oven back in the oven for 5 minutes to preheat it, then bake the second loaf in the same way.

For the bruschetta, grill or toast your bread. Cut the garlic clove and rub the cut end on the warm toast. Dice the tomatoes and chiffonade the basil. Toss the tomatoes with the basil, drizzle with olive oil, and season with salt and pepper. Spoon onto the toast and garnish with a basil leaf.