The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Help with Ingredient Adjustments PLEASE!

tarade's picture

Help with Ingredient Adjustments PLEASE!

Hello All,

I've done *very* basic recipes, but got feeling ambitious this weekend and wanted to re-create a sandwich from Panera Bread, their Turkey Bacon Bravo sandwich.  It is made with a tomato basil bread with a slight sugar/honey glaze on the crust, turkey, gouda, bacon, and a thousand island-like dressing.

I found a recipe online for the tomato basil bread but when I made it, it came out like a dense brick.  It still tasted alright and the house smelled wonderful, but not something I could make a sandwich on.  I've tried it 2x already, hoping a little tweaking will get it right but so far, no dice.  It doesn't rise a lot so I think I need to adjust the amount of yeast in the dough, but not sure how much or what else I need to I'm hoping a knowledgeable bread enthusiast will be able to help me get it right the third time.

My goal is a soft but durable sandwich bread with a chewy if not slightly crunchy (and not overly browned) crust.  I only have the option of either a glass standard 9x5 loaf pan or metal one, and a aluminum cookie sheet - which is the best for my needs?  I know if I want "sandwich" bread I should probably get one of those covered pans but I just don't have anywhere in my area that sells them so I can't get one right now.

As for the recipe:

  • 2 1/4 t. yeast
  • 1/4 c. warm water
  • 1/2 c. warm milk
  • 1/4 c. minced fresh basil
  • 1/4 c. grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 T. tomato paste
  • 1 T. sugar
  • 1 T. olive oil
  • 1 egg
  • 1 t. salt
  • 1 t. onion powder
  • 1/2 t. garlic powder 
  • 1/3 c. minced sundried tomatoes
  • 2 1/4 – 2 1/2 c. flour (1 c. all purpose, 1.25-1.5 c. unbleached white whole wheat) 

After mixing/kneading, I let it rise about an hour in the bowl, knead again a little, put in a greased bread pan and let rise another hour before popping in the over and cooking at 350 degrees for about 50 minutes, or until it reaches an internal temp of at least 190 degrees.  It also has some sugary glaze on it but I'll worry about getting the bread right first before tackling the glaze.

Any pointers you could offer would greatly be appreciated, thank you so much!!!Tara


HeidiH's picture

Oo-oo.  What a good idea.  We've been off Panera since they changed their formulas -- that's what drove me to make bread in the first place.

I always thought the tomato basil bread tasted like it had catsup on top but I think it was more likely to have been tomato sauce or paste and a lot of brown sugar.  It was like after scoring it down the middle and allowing the score to grow, a swath of the tomato/sugar sauce was applied to the top before baking.

Good luck with this and do share if you figure it out!

tarade's picture

I think PB's tomato basil bread is so delicious I'd love to be able to replicate it at home!  The 'bricks' I did make taste good so I think the flavor ingredients are okay as posted.  It's the liquids vs flour vs yeast that needs to be adjusted somehow to get a lighter loaf.  If I ever figure it out I'll try and tackle the glaze, but for now making a decent loaf of bread would be considered a success!

Yumarama's picture

If you are going by time, this may be where you're running into issues: you're going by the clock and not by the bread. If your bread is not properly proofed in that hour it's not ready to move on to the next step no matter what the clock says. The saying in these part is: "Watch the dough, not the clock."

Bulk proofing should get you a doubling of your original dough amount. Doing so in a typical concave bowl could make it difficult to tell if your dough's volume has, in fact, doubled. It's best to use some sort of clear, straight-walled container so you can see if you've reached the level you expect. Examples from my equipment stash:


Here I use painter's tape (I happen to have some and it's easy to move) to mark the original level and can then tell visually when it's pretty much reached double volume.

Clock-watching also won't take into consideration if your proofing is happening in a warm or cool enough space. You generally want to proof in about a 75°F (24°C) spot for best behaviour. Drop the room temp a few degrees, say high 60's, and what would double in one hour may need one and a half. 

Note: The recipe you mention, with the inclusion of oils and acidic tomato ingredients, may preclude the following:

Degas gently after your bulk ferment. You want to get the big bubbles out but overhandling the dough and lose all the smaller bubbles. Be gentle, don't "knead again" and lose the gas you've spent an hour developing as some of this is what will give the bread, once heated, the expansion you're looking for. You're just shaping the dough into it's final form here. Kneading was done at the beginning.

Look for shaping videos here and on the YouToobs to get an idea of the process. Here's one specifically about shaping sandwich loaves. Note the gentle handling between bulk and final proofing. 

Video tutorial: Shaping a sandwich loaf

How can you tell your dough has proofed enough on the final rise? Aside from the visuals of the dough having expanded above the pan's sides - speaking of a sandwich bread here - you can use the "poke" test to see if the dough is where it should be. Poke the dough with your finger and see if the dent fills back up or not. If the dent fills right back almost right away, it has some time to go yet; it's too stiff. If it only fills back up halfway after a few seconds, it's about right. If it stay pretty much fully poked, the dough is overdone; it's too soft and gone past where you need it. You won't see as much rise as you want because the gluten is already maxed out.

You don't need a covered Pullman pan to make sandwich breads either; a standard bread pan will work fine. Just check the size of the pan with the amount of dough you intend to put in it to get the proper balance. Here's a helpful list: Dough Weight to Pan / Loaf Size. For your 2.25 to 2.5 cup of flour recipe, you'd likely need to use a 7.5" x 3.5" pan.

There may also be something afoot with the actual recipe and I'll leave that to those who make enriched sandwich breads to check out. But these basic tips may help you out finding the techinical issues you might (or might not) be running into. 

tarade's picture

I took your info and tried again.  This batch did rise better and wasn't as dense as the previous two but definitely still dense.  It almost made it to the top of the pan this time lol.  I guess it means there's a problem with the ratios of my ingredients.  But thank you very much for the information, I have saved it for future use!

pmccool's picture

and dough quantities.  For a 9x5 pan, you had probably ought to double your recipe.  That would comfortably fill the pan and allow it to be somewhat domed above the top of the pan when it is ready to bake.  If you have been watching the dough in the pan and wanting it to fill the pan, odds are pretty good that the dough has risen too far when it goes into the oven.  That can lead to a collapsed, dense brick like you describe.


subfuscpersona's picture

I'm going to assume your proportions are OK, though since everything is given by volume its a bit hard to tell.

I think the recipe calls for ample yeast, so I don't think it's necessary to increase the yeast.

Here's a suggestion re changing the method (how the ingredients are combined)...

STEP 1: Start by making a "sponge" - combine the water, milk, yeast and all the white whole wheat flour in your mixing bowl and mix to combine (it should be like a heavy batter). Note you are not adding the all-purpose flour, just the whole wheat flour, to your liquids to make the sponge. Cover and let rise until it is at least 1 & 1/2 times it's original volume.

STEP 2: after the sponge has risen, in a separate bowl, beat together the egg, tomato paste, olive oil, salt, sugar, onion powder and garlic powder. Stir this mixture into the sponge.

STEP 3: add the minced dried tomato, minced basil and parmesan cheese to the sponge and stir to distribute evenly.

STEP 4: add the all-purpose flour to your mixture, stirring to combine well and then knead.

When your dough is kneaded to your satisfaction, follow the recipe (one rise "in the bowl" until approximately doubled in bulk, shape, rise in pan and bake)


Making a sponge will allow your yeast to multiply, the whole wheat flour to absorb the liquid better and gluten development to begin while the sponge has it's rise.  The sponge step should add about 1 to 1&1/2 hours to the total bread making time, assuming that your kitchen is "room temperature", which is generally assumed to be in the low 70s F.

I don't think its necessary to warm the milk before adding it to the other ingredients. The warm water will take the chill off the milk (I assume you're using warm water from the tap, not heating it on the stove or in a microwave. Frankly, if I were making this bread, I'd just combine tap water and milk from the 'frig and forget about warming either of them.)


If you try this modification, let us know how it turns out.

Best of luck in your bread baking - SF

== PS == You want sandwich bread, so I'd recommend baking it in your glass loaf pan, not on a cookie sheet.


clazar123's picture

I believe part of your issue may be the presence of white whole wheat. No matter what the packaging and hype say about white whole wheat-it is NOT like using AP flour. It is just like using regular whole wheat and that will increase the density of your crumb-esp in the ratios in the recipe.  

I don't believe that the Panera bread has any whole wheat in it-at least it doesn't taste/texture like it does and it is not on the ingredient list for the bread. Try using a combo of AP and bread flour or a strong AP flour. If you cannot get the desired texture just by eliminating the white whole wheat, then I would increase the oil (2 tbsp) or even use the water roux method. Not difficult and that may open whole new horizons of breads for you.

I really like that sandwich,also, so I hope you can figure this out.

tarade's picture

the ingredient list does list "unbleached enriched wheat flour" and barley flour too, actually now that I look at it.  I ran out of a few ingredients so later on when I run out to the store I'll have to try again with these great suggestions.  Thanks everyone for your helpful input!  If I figure out a good equivalent recipe for their bread I'll let you know for sure.

clazar123's picture

Take a look at the ingredients for your regular flour. You may be surprised to see there is more to most flours than just "wheat".

Directly from the Pillsbury Best Bread Flour ingredient list on my current open bag:

"Wheat flour,malted barley flour (improves yeast baking),ascorbic acid (dough conditioner),Niacin,Iron,Thiamin mononitrate,riboflavin, folic acid".

The comments in the parenthesis are from the package. My current bag of Gold Medal regular AP flour lists similar ingredients.

So I would guess that Panera is made with either AP or bread flour. White whole wheat would be listed as either "white whole wheat" or just as "whole wheat".


heavyhanded's picture

I made two small rounds as I am on a small round bread kick lately. I did the sponge thing and totally found a clear, straight-sided container to let the dough rise in. The descriptions of the poke test really helped me out.

I let them brown too much but still tasty - thanks for posting your question and recipe!