June 19, 2024

Panera Style Tomato Basil Bread

I love, love, love bread in all its glorious forms, and Panera knows how to make the most truly addictive stuff. Unfortunately, as a gluten free person, I realized I’d forever be trapped with my nose pressed against the glass unless I developed some Panera style bread recipes. This tomato basil bread, with its tangy, herbal essences, chewy crust, and sweet and tangy crumb topping, is perfect for pairing with hearty sandwich ingredients. It is moist and springy and holds up well for a few days after making it. Follow the instructions carefully – there are several steps you need to take to achieve the correct consistency, and you’ll need to divide ingredients to do each step.

Panera Style Tomato Basil Bread

Panera Style Tomato Basil Bread

Serves: 16 | Prep Time: 120 minutes | Cook Time: 55 minutes 



  • 1 cup (4oz or 113 g) Better Batter Gluten Free Flour
  • 1 1/2 c water
  • 1 tbsp active dry yeast
  • 1 tbsp psyllium husk powder (we prefer Konsyl)


  • 3/4 c diced tomatoes
  • 1/4 c warm water
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 1 tbsp active dry yeast
  • 1 tbsp +1 tsp shortening or butter
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 3 c (12 oz or 339 g) Better Batter Gluten Free Flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1tsp minced garlic
  • 1 tsp dried basil

Crumb Topping:

  • 1/3 c sugar
  • 1/4 c Better Batter Gluten Free Flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp shortening or butter
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • water


Make the Starter: In the bowl of your electric mixer, combine the starter ingredients, beating well at high speed for 4 minutes, or until well combined. Set this aside to proof for at least an hour, but preferably 8 hours or overnight. This will develop both the flavor and the texture of the bread and the longer you leave the starter, the better the finished bread!

Create the Crumb: In a small bowl, combine the sugar, Better Batter flour, shortening or butter, honey, and salt, squeezing together until fine crumbs form. Set aside.  In a separate bowl combine 2 tbsp of the crumb mixture, the tomato paste, and enough water to thin out the mixture into a ‘paint’ consistency. Set aside.

Make the Bread: Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and grease a 9×5 inch pan well. A glass or stone wear pan is ideal for creating a perfect crust.

Combine Ingredients. In the bowl of your electric mixer, combine the starter, tomatoes, water, honey, and shortening, beating well at medium speed for 2 minutes, or until the tomatoes break up and become ‘bits’ and the liquid is thoroughly combined and smooth. Add the rest of the ingredients and beat on high speed for 4 minutes, or until well blended. The mixture will resemble very sticky drop cookie dough. Allow to proof for 30 minutes, covered tightly with plastic wrap, in the bowl.

Spoon the dough into the prepared loaf pan. Using wet hands, smooth the dough. Wet fingers and wedge lightly down sides of dough to create a depression/channel all around the edge of the pan – this will allow the dough to rise nicely. Take a wet spatula or other dull edge and create a deep, thin  divot in the center of the dough. Wet the surface of the dough and sprinkle lightly with the crumb mixture. Cover with plastic wrap and allow to proof in a warm, moist place for 30 minutes.

Remove the plastic cover and place the bread in the preheated oven. Throw 4 ice cubes into the bottom of the oven and close the door. Allow to bake for about 40 minutes. Open the door and pull the rack out. “Paint” the top of the bread with the tomato paste mixture, then slide it back into the oven. Allow to cook for another 15 minutes or so or until the crust is deep golden brown, and the internal temperature of the bread reaches 200 degrees.

This recipe was originally tested and adapted from a recipe published by Naomi Poe in November 2015. Original photo of food by Jennifer Bigler.