Raise your hand if you like, no, LOVE pesto? *RAISE HAND!* Yep, I do love me a good, rich, zesty pesto every now and now. Pesto is one of those things that I think every kitchen should always have on hand. It’s easy to make, tastes great, and if you don’t need to use it now, it freezes like a champ for when you do need it. If only more things in life were that awesome and versatile, right?
So I recently started trying my hand at breads and after my first real success making those apple braids, I have been feeling pretty confident about making some other breadly creations. Which brings me to this…Bread and pesto together in a winning and heavenly combination. I saw this bread recipe and was totally captivated by the beautiful marbled looking swirls of pesto in between the folds of dough. It looked amazing and I’m sure if we had Scratch and Sniff ™ capability through the internet, it would have smelled equally as awesome!
We had friends stopping in this weekend for dinner so I thought it was the perfect opportunity to give this a try. Ok, I’ll be honest, I was going to be making this bread regardless this weekend, but it’s always a nice treat to have people to share it with. The dough came together in a snap, only requiring 1 rise before shaping and a 2nd rise before baking. I deviated from the original recipe and opted to just add my flour and knead the dough in a large bowl that I had…it made for less mess and a much easier cleanup. Assembly was really a breeze too…Slather pesto onto the dough, sprinkle cheese, roll, cut, braid and twist, bake…PROFIT!
I’m glad to say, that the recipe made good on all that it promised. The pesto flavor is very rich and alive here while the bread itself was tender and delicious. We had ours straight out of the oven because there was just no waiting to be done once the smell of pesto and baking bread began to fill the kitchen. It’s a good thing this makes 2 loaves so there would be some for later…that is if you can hold yourself back!
Adapted from The KneadforBread
Yields 2 loaves
2 cups warm water
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoon sugar
1/2 cup skim milk powder
1 tablespoon salt
1 tablespoon instant yeast
5 – 5 1/2 cups bread flour
2/3 cup pesto
1 cup grated Parmesan
In large bowl, combine water, olive oil, sugar, skim milk powder, salt, and instant yeast. Mix till well blended.
Add in a cup of flour and beat with a wooden spoon until smooth. Add in another cup of flour and do the same. Add flour a handful at a time and knead until the dough no longer feels sticky. Continue to knead dough for about 8-10 minutes until dough has a glossy and smooth finish.
Add a little olive oil to a large bowl (about 1 tablespoon), and place kneaded dough into bowl. Turn dough over a few times to coat all sides of dough. Cover with plastic wrap and allow to rest for an hour or until doubled in bulk.
Pour out dough onto a lightly floured flat surface. Cut dough in half with sharp knife. Put 1/2 of dough back into oiled bowl. Using your fingers, flatten the out the other piece of dough. Roll out dough to a 9×14 rectangle. Spread half of pesto on top of dough and sprinkle 1/4 cup of Parmesan on top.
Bring in the short side of dough by 1/2″ and then roll dough like a jelly roll. Pinch seam closed. Take a sharp knife and cut the dough down the center lengthwise. Open the jelly roll, exposing the inside of the roll. Take the 2 cut pieces and braid or twist them together, always with the cut (pesto) side facing up.
Please bread into a greased loaf pan. Repeat steps with other piece of dough. Cover both loaves with plastic wrap and allow to rest for an hour or until doubled in bulk. Sprinkle tops with remaining Parmesan cheese and place into a preheated 375 degree oven for 30-35 minutes. Check bread about 10 minutes before they are finished…if browning too quickly, cover with foil.