Last year I was drying tomatoes in the dehydrator (as you do) and got the timings wrong. Instead of the slightly soft semi-dried fruits I’d been meaning to drown in olive oil to keep through the winter, I had shrivelled, crispy husks.
Never one to discard the hard-won fruits of his labours, Him Outdoors suggested grinding them down into tomato powder. Apparently tomato powder is a ‘thing’, something I was unaware of until one of my food blogging friends, the lovely Mimi Rippee, wrote about it. Mimi and I sometimes joke that we were separated at birth, as we are often on the same culinary (and vinous) wavelength.
This was one of those times and Mimi’s post reminded me that I still had half a jar of tomato powder and I’d been meaning to include it in a bread. This is what I made and I’ve already earmarked some of this year’s tomato harvest to revisit it.
You can make your own tomato powder by whacking some unsalted dried (not mi-cuit or semi-dried) tomatoes into a spice grinder. Mine varied in consistency between a fine powder and bits the size of chilli flakes, which I think works well in the bread.
Tomato and Olive Focaccia
400g strong white bread flour + more for dusting
100g fine ground semolina flour (or more strong white bread flour)
1/2 tbsp salt
6 level tbsp tomato powder
1 x 7g sachet of dried yeast (I used fast action yeast)
1/2 tbsp caster sugar
300ml lukewarm water
Ingredients for the topping:
24 pitted black olives, some whole, some halved
9-12 mi-cuit sun-dried tomatoes in olive oil, drained
1/2 small red onion, finely sliced into half moons
A few sprigs of fresh rosemary
Mix the yeast and sugar with the lukewarm water and mix well with a fork.
Put the flours, tomato powder and salt in a large bowl, making a well in the middle. When the yeast/water mix starts to foam, slowly pour it into the well in the flour, mixing with a fork as you go.
Bring the ingredients together with your hands, turn onto a board and knead well for about 10 minutes until you have a smooth, springy dough.
Lightly oil a large bowl and put the dough in it, sprinkling with a little more flour. Cover with a tea towel and leave to stand in a warm place for 30-60 minutes until the dough has doubled in size. Pre-heat your oven to 220C/425F/Gas Mark 7.
Knock back the dough, then place on a lightly-oiled baking sheet (about 20cm x 28 cm, mine was a bit too big) and spread it out to cover the tray, using your fingers to push it into the corners.
Press the olives and sun-dried tomatoes firmly into the dough, rather deeper than I did in these pics. Scatter with the onion, rosemary and sea salt and drizzle with a good glug of olive oil.
Leave it to prove for about 20-30 minutes, then bake in the pre-heated oven for 20 minutes, until golden on top and soft in the middle.
It’s good eaten warm with soups or salads, cheeses and cold cuts and also makes great picnic food.