Breads (Yeast) - Buns/Rolls

Tomato Pull Apart Bread

July 05, 2020 | Recipe by Bake with Paws
Tomato Pull Apart Bread

Tomato Pull Apart Bread

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I have been collaborating with Little Love Bites recently and I had some extra herbs.  So, I had an idea to make a Tomato Pull Apart Bread with fresh herbs.  My girlfriend, Little Love Bites curates healthy and beautiful platters.  She can be found in Instagram here.

I used pâte fermentée (pre-fermented dough in French) or sometimes called "old dough" method to make this soft and flavourful bread.  Traditionally, bread makers save a portion of the bread dough for the next day's baking.  I made it from scratch since I did not have any ready old dough. With this method, the bread is more flavourful and aromatic due to the higher acidity and fermentation gasses produced from a slow fermentation.  

Please click on Bread Making Method to understand more details.

If you have any questions regarding this recipe or any other post, please leave me a comment in the “LEAVE A COMMENT” link and I will reply you as soon as possible.  Do tag me on Instagram @Bakewithpaws if you attempt on this recipe.

How To Make Tomato Pull Apart Bread 

Yields:  2


Fresh Tomato Puree:
2 tomatoes, big

Old Dough:
100g bread flour (I used Japan High Gluten Flour)
65g tomatoes puree (I used fresh tomatoes puree)
1/4  tsp instant yeast
1/4 tsp sugar
Pinch of salt

Main Dough:
240g bread flour (I used Japan High Gluten Flour)
3/4 tsp instant yeast
36g (3 Tbsp) brown sugar 
1 1/8 tsp salt
24g (3 Tbsp) milk powder
40g whisked egg (from large egg, balance use for egg wash)
130g - 135g tomato puree (I used fresh tomatoes puree)
15g tomato paste (see picture below)
35g, extra virgin olive oil
1 1/4 tsp Italian mixed herbs (optional)

1 1/2 Tbsp fresh rosemary, chopped  or 1 tbsp of dried rosemary
1 tbsp flat leaves parsley, chopped
30g sun dried tomato, rinsed with hot water, cut into small pieces

Egg Wash:
Balance from the above whisked egg + 1/2 tsp water

2 units of 6" round pan, lined the base with parchment paper and greased the side with oil.

  1. For Fresh Tomato Puree:
    1. Wash, pat dry and cut the tomatoes.  Blend in a food processor until smooth.  You will get more than you required. But, we only need 65g for old dough and 125g for main dough (store in the fridge)
  2. For the Old Dough:
    1. Combine water, yeast and sugar in a mixing bowl. Then mix with hand. Roll into a ball and place in a greased bowl.  Cover with cling film and let it proof 1 hour in room temperature (28C).  After 1 hour, place into the refrigerator overnight for at least 12 hours or up to 36 hours.  The next morning, take out the old dough from refrigerator to return to room temperature 30 minutes before using.
    2. You can also let it ferment for 12 - 16 hours in cool place or  air-conditioned room (22C - 23C)
  3. Kneading Main Dough:
    1. Put all main dough ingredients A (except olive oil, ) and old dough in a bowl of stand mixer and mix with paddle attachment for 2 minutes or until all incorporated.  Change to hook attachment and knead for another 3 minutes or until the dough comes together. Add in olive oil and continue kneading for another 10 minutes or until achieve window pane stage.  Let the dough rest for 10 minutes.  Transfer to a slightly floured counter top.  Knead in the ingredients B with hand until all well incorporated.     During the whole kneading process, I stopped few times to scrape down the dough from the hook to be sure it is evenly kneaded and also to prevent the motor from overheating.
  4. 1st Proofing:
    1. Cover the bowl and let the dough rise in a warm place for 45 - 60 minutes or until doubled in size. I normally leave the dough in the same mixing bowl and cover with the bowl lid or cling film.
  5. Shaping:
    1. Punch down the dough to release the air. Transfer the dough to a clean floured surface then divide into 8 equal portions. Please use a kitchen scale if you want to be exact. 
    2. Roll each portion into a ball.  After finishing shaping all the dough, place buns in the prepared round baking pans.
  6. Final Proofing:
    1. Let the buns rise for another 40 - 50 minutes or until the buns rise slightly above the rim of the pan.
  7. Baking:
    1. Preheat the oven to 180°C (top and bottom heat) or 160°C (fan-forced) for about 15 minutes.
    2. Brush the bread buns with egg wash.
    3. Bake for 20 - 25 minutes, or until golden brown.
    4. Remove bread and let it cool on rack.


Gluten forms when flour comes in contact with water.  Hydration of the flour causes the sticky and stretchy protein to form, giving structure to the bread.  This makes your bread trap air and rise. 

Gluten in dough can be developed by autolyse, resting, kneading or folding.

The windowpane test is used to determine whether the dough has been sufficiently kneaded.  By gently pulling the dough (or you may pinch off some dough) and trying to stretch it into a thin membrane.  If you are able to stretch the dough paper thin and translucent  without tearing, then the gluten is fully developed.  However, if you can stretch it without tearing but the membrane is not transparent, then the gluten is not yet fully developed.  

However, from my experience not all the recipe can achieve a thin and translucent window pane stage easily.   For example low hydration and low fat dough.  For such recipes, a reasonable window pane is good enough and it can be left to rest. Gluten will continue to develop while resting.  Exercising restraint to not over-knead the dough prevents the gluten from being overworked and broken.   Some of you may have experienced the dough breaking during the second proofing.  It is because the dough is over kneaded. 

The total kneading time for me is usually 15 minutes at low speeds except brioche dough with high fat percentage or dough using liquid fat which usually takes a little longer (maybe 18-20 mins).

From my experience, I found that high hydration dough with high percentage of fat will be easy to stretch and achieve a paper thin windowpane stage.

For kneading, please regard the timing provided as an indication only. It is only meant as a guide.  Timing may differ depending on the brand of flour and electric mixer used. The protein content may vary from one brand of flour to another.

The right flour plays a very important role in bread making.   To achieve fluffy, soft and light bread, I used Japan High Gluten Flour in most of my bread baking.  The protein content is around  12 - 13%.

The liquid measurement given is also a guide.  It is advisable to always reserve some liquid and not add it all in one go.  This would give you the opportunity to adjust if necessary. If dough is too dry, add the reserve liquid one tablespoon at a time until the right consistency.  This is because each flour absorbs water and hydrates differently. 

Please note that the proofing timing may also vary depending on your climate and environment. The humidity and temperature at your place will influence how dough rises.  
If you are unable to judge by just looking at the dough, you can do the finger poke test:
  1. First Proofing:
    • Lightly flour or oil your finger or knuckle, gently poke in the centre of the dough then remove your finger.  If it bounces back immediately without any indentation then it needs more time.
    • If the indentation stays and it doesn’t bounce back or if the dough collapses, then the it is over proved.  
    • If it bounces back just a little, then the dough is ready to be punched down and shaping.
  2. Second Proofing:
    • Lightly press the side of the proved dough with your finger.  If it bounces back immediately without any indentation, it means the dough is under proved and needs more time before baking.
    • If the indentation stays and it doesn’t bounce back, it means it has been over proved.
    • If the indentation slowly bounces back and leave a small indentation, it is ready to bake. 
    • There will be a final burst of rising once the bread is placed to bake in the oven and it is called oven spring. 
If your bread collapses or gets wrinkled on top after removing from oven, it could be because your dough over proved during the second proofing. Please proof until it rises 80 - 90% in size or is slightly below the rim of the pan.

Do also note that the baking temperature and timing provided are what works for my oven and should also be regarded as a guide only. Every oven behaves a little differently, so please adjust accordingly for your oven.


  1. Wow this looks very interesting my children dont like parsley. What other herbs would be nice to go this ?

    1. Hi, thank you for visiting my blog. You can use basil too.
      Cheers :)

  2. Hi, is there a substitute for milk powder if I wish to keep this vegan/dairy-free? Thank you! Love your recipes!

    1. Hi, thanks for reading. You can omit milk powder. It is fine.

      Cheers :)

  3. Hi, can I replace tomato paste with tomato sauce or is it better if I omit tomato paste if I don't have it? Thanks!

    1. Hi, thanks for reading this recipe. I guess you can. But, not sure how it will taste.

      Cheers :)

    2. I have not tried with tomato sauce and not sure how it will turn out :)


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