My fridge contained a jar of pesto sauce that was sitting there unused for three months. That, combined with watching Bake Off’s bread episode meant it was time for pesto bread.
The bread itself was adapted from a Paul Hollywood recipe, so can’t go wrong there. I just took out the cherries and chocolate and spread a layer of pesto sauce over the dough, and then rolled it. So what you get are swirls of verdant pesto in the bread.
The dough had a strong yeasty flavour that accompanied the saltiness and herbiness of the pesto well, and the bread had a good crunchy crust as well.
The green colour of the pesto was more obvious before baking, ah well.
This fed 5 people over 2 breakfasts. So…10 portions? Total recipe time if you choose not to proof it in the refrigerator (see notes) should be about 3 hours.
- 500g strong plain flour
- 2 tsp salt
- 30 ml olive oil
- 10g fast-action yeast
- 320ml water
- A jar of pesto
- Optional dried rosemary and black pepper
- A splash of milk
- Put the flour in a large bowl. Add the salt and olive oil to one side, and the yeast to the other. Slowly add 320ml of water and mix by hand until the dough is pliable.
- Knead on lightly floured surface for 4-7 minutes or until dough is smooth and stretchy.
- Cover the bowl with clingfilm and leave to double in size (which would probably take about 1-1.5 hours)
- Meanwhile, line your bread tin so it is easy to remove the bread at the end.
- Take the dough out, and knock the air out. Roll the dough out into a rectangle the same length as your bread pan. Spread pesto onto the rectangle, and then roll the dough up from the long end so you get a Swiss roll-like effect. I added some rosemary and black pepper along with the pesto because I like the taste of rosemary and black pepper.
- Cut the dough sausage thing lengthwise using a sharp knife (might have to dust your knife liberally with flour to stop it from sticking). Face the cut side up so the pesto is exposed and then twist the two halves together.
- Place the twisted dough into the bread pan and leave to rise again until doubled in size (probably about an hour).
- Brush the surface of the bread with some milk.
- Bake at 200ºC for about 40 mins, or until bread sounds hollow when you tap it. Transfer to wire rack to cool.
- To me, this was quite a sticky dough, so it would probably have been easier with a dough hook. If kneading by hand, it would be tempting to add looooads of flour but just keep kneading it and the dough will get less sticky. A light dusting of flour on the work surface and your hands is enough.
- This would have probably been easier to make if you make your own pesto, or chose a store-bought pesto that was less oily. My pesto was waaaay too oily and made the braiding of the dough really difficult.
- I didn’t add warm water as a slow proof imparts more flavour into the bread. In fact, when my dough was nearly doubled in size after both the first and second proof, I put the dough in the fridge for about 3 hours (and went out for dinner or watched some anime). You can tell when your bread’s over-proofed if you see it collapse upon itself.
- I used a milk wash to give the bread colour. If you want extra shine you can use an egg wash or an egg + milk wash.