cherry tomato & mozzarella bread

One of the things I love about baking is the simplicity of the ingredients in their raw form, and the endless possibilities to transform and create something that is both beautiful and delicious by combining ingredients that amount to so much more together than when they are on their own. Bread is the perfect example of something brilliant coming from very few ingredients, and I am thoroughly enjoying trying out a variety of bread recipes since the demise of our breadmaker. I like that it requires even fewer ingredients to make bread by hand than it did in the breadmaker.

A couple of weeks ago I baked two loaves of cherry tomato and mozarella bread to take to our Church home group to share. I love the way food brings people together, and I especially love it when you can easily share food with others. This is the perfect tear and share bread. It doesn't need to be neat, it just needs to be ripped, passed around and eaten.

This bread is absolutely at its best when eaten fresh from the oven, or warmed at a low temperature before eating. The flavours and texture are greatly improved by warmth, so is the sensation in your mouth and tummy as it is greeted by warm, squishy bread. 

500g strong white bread flour
10g salt
10g instant dried yeast
400ml tepid water
2tbsp olive oil
20 cherry tomatoes, chopped in half
1.5 balls of buffalo mozzarella (approximately 190g)
dried oregano

1) Oil a large plastic container (2-3 litres)
2) Put the flour into a large mixing bowl, along with the salt and the yeast.
3) Add 300ml of the water and use your hands to slowly combine all of the ingredients. As the dough begins to come together, add the remaining 100ml of water.
4) Knead for 5 - 10 minutes, either by hand or in a freestanding mixer using the dough hook attachment until the dough is stretchy and still wet.
5) Add the 2 tbsp of oilive oil and continue to knead for another 2 minutes.
3) Place the dough in the oiled container, cover with an oiled lid, or a tea towel, and leave to prove in a warm place for 1 hour.
4) Line 2 large baking trays with parchment paper.
5) Dust your working surface with plenty of flour, then carefully tip the dough onto the floured surface.
6) Gently handle the dough and shape into a rectangle, taking care not to knock all of the air out - at this stage you would usually knock the dough back to release some of the air - but in this recipe the air is crucial in creating an amazingly light texture.
7) Cover the top of the dough with flour, then cut into quarters.
8) Stretch each piece of dough out, and place 2 pieces of dough on each baking tray.
9) Push 10 tomato halves into each piece of dough, along with a generous amount of shredded mozzarella. If you like a bit of a fiery kick, add some fresh chilli.
10) Sprinkle each loaf with some sea salt, cracked pepper, olive oil and oregano then leave to rest for 15 minutes while your oven pre-heats to 210C / gas mark 7/ 410F.
11) Bake for 15 - 20 mins, or until the loaves sound hollow when you tap them on the underside.
12) Serve warm with olive oil and balsamic vinegar for dipping.