This wonderful bread makes a great accompaniment to pastas, or a perfect start to your meal. Delicious dipped in scented olive oil or served up for lunch with some Provolone, salami, prosciutto or other salumeria. Buon gusto!

Tomato and Spinach Braided Bread
 
Author:
Recipe type: Breads and Rolls
Serves: 16
Ingredients
  • oil for coating bowls
  • 1 egg
  • 1 Tablespoon water
  • cornmeal for baking sheets
  • Tomato Dough:
  • 1 Cup water; * see note
  • 1 package active dry yeast
  • 1/2 Tablespoon honey
  • 3 ripe tomatoes
  • 1/2 Tablespoon Kosher salt
  • 1/2 Cup whole wheat flour
  • 2 3/4 Cups unbleached or bread flour
  • Spinach Dough:
  • 1 bunch spinach
  • 1 Cup water; * see note
  • 1 package active dry yeast
  • 1/2 Tablespoon honey
  • 1/2 Tablespoon Kosher salt
  • 1/2 Cup whole wheat flour
  • 2 Cups unbleached or bread flour
Instructions
  1. To prepare Tomato Dough, mix the water, yeast, and honey in a large mixing bowl or bowl of a heavy-duty mixed. Let rest for 5 minutes to dissolve yeast.
  2. Peel tomatoes by placing in boiling water for 1 to 2 minutes. Slice in half crosswise, hold over sink, and gently squeeze out seeds. Chop tomatoes into a fine dice. Add tomatoes to yeast-water-honey mixture.
  3. Add salt, whole wheat flour, and enough of the unbleached flour to form a firm dough. When dough becomes too stiff to stir, lightly dust work surface with unbleached flour and knead remaining flour into dough.
  4. Knead dough vigorously for 10 minutes by hand or about 5 minutes in a heavy-duty mixer.
  5. Place dough in a lightly oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let rise for 1 hour. To complete, see steps 4 and 5.
  6. To prepare Spinach Dough, remove large, tough stems from spinach. Wash spinach leaves but do not dry.
  7. Place in a 14-inch skillet over low heat, and steam for about 5 minutes.
  8. Cool and mince.
  9. In another large mixing bowl or bowl of a heavy-duty mixer, mix the water, yeast, and honey. Let rest for 5 minutes to dissolve yeast. Stir spinach into yeast-water-honey mixture. Add salt, whole wheat flour, and enough of the unbleached flour to form a firm dough.
  10. When dough becomes too stiff to stir, lightly dust work surface with unbleached flour, and knead remaining flour into dough. Knead dough vigorously for 10 minutes by hand or about 5 minutes in a heavy-duty mixer. Place dough in a lightly oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let rise for about 1 hour.
  11. After the rising time, punch down tomato dough and spinach dough.
  12. Divide each dough into 4 equal pieces. Working with 2 pieces of spinach dough and 2 pieces of tomato dough at a time, shape into a braid. Cover remaining dough with a cloth to prevent drying while first braid is being shaped.
  13. Pinch both ends and tuck under to seal. Sprinkle 2 baking sheets with cornmeal. Place loaves on sheets and let dough rise for 45 minutes.
  14. Near end of rising time, preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  15. In a small bowl, whisk egg with the water. Carefully brush mixture onto loaves.
  16. Bake loaves for 55 minutes. Remove from pans. Test loaves by tapping bottom of each. If loaf sounds hollow, it is done. Place on cooling racks for 10 minutes and serve.
Notes
NOTES: Not to exceed 100 degrees.

Yield: 2 loaves, 8 servings per loaf (serving size: 1 slice).

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