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Pesto Bread

The Best Thing Since Sliced Pesto Bread

pesto-bread“Have you ever made pesto bread?” my friend asked. “It’s so good! I saw it on Pinterest, but you can find recipes anywhere. Just Google it.”

She wasn’t kidding. A Google search for pesto bread brings back 26 million results.

“Can you be a little more specific?” I asked her.

“It was pretty. Really swirly. Braided.”

http://www.bakedbyrachel.com/braided-pesto-bread-recipe/Oh good, braided pesto bread only returns 116,000 Google results.

I read a whole lot of recipes to make this happen. She says that this one on Baked by Rachel isn’t the one she was referring to (she can’t actually find the one she used), but holy cow, it is the prettiest. Seriously, look at the color in those swirls!

I fell in love with Rachel’s photos. There is some seriously good stuff over on her blog. You should go there. Hopefully this photo will lure you in.

Anyway, my pesto swirls look nothing like that, as you can see, though mine was perfectly flavorful and delicious.

Also, by the way, this photo is a really great visual example of how you get the swirls to happen. The photo on the left is what happens when you cut the rolled-up dough log in half, the right is what happens when you “braid” (twist) the two sections together.

So why is mine so pale in comparison? The only thing I can figure is that either a) My pesto wasn’t nearly as thick, or b) My pesto had been pre-made and frozen, so perhaps it had lost some of its bright green oomph?

Either way, the flavor was amazing, so I really don’t care.

In the end, I blended a few different recipes to get the results that I wanted — bread flour instead of all-purpose, no whole wheat flour — but I was quite happy with the results.

Pesto Bread

Serves 4
Prep time 2 hours
Cook time 35 minutes
Total time 2 hours, 35 minutes
Allergy Wheat
Meal type Bread
Misc Child Friendly, Freezable, Gourmet, Pre-preparable, Serve Cold, Serve Hot
Website Baked by Rachel
We're a bit pesto-obsessed around here (even The Assistant), so a pesto bread is pretty much the best thing ever.

Ingredients

  • 1.25 cups water (between 105-115 degrees F)
  • 2.25 teaspoons active dry yeast (one packet)
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 2.5 cups bread flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons parmesan cheese (grated)

Directions

Step 1
In the bowl of your stand mixer, dissolve sugar and yeast in warm water. Allow yeast to proof (become foamy), about 5 minutes.
Step 2
In a separate bowl, sift together flour and salt. Add to the bowl of your stand mixer. Using the dough hook, mix until the dough comes together in a smooth ball.
Step 3
Remove dough from bowl. Lightly coat the bowl with olive oil. Return the dough to the bowl, cover with plastic wrap and allow to rise in a warm spot for an hour.
Step 4
While the dough is rising, make your own pesto. If you have pre-made pesto, you can spend the hour reading, working, arguing with your child about homework, or playing LEGOs.
Step 5
Using a silicone baking sheet as a size guide, roll the dough out into a 10 inch by 16 inch rectangle. Spread pesto to within an inch of the edge of the dough.
Step 6
Starting from the short side of the rectangle, tightly roll the dough into a log, pinching the ends as you go. When you have a nice pesto dough log, cut that log in half lengthwise. This will give you two beautiful green-striped lengths of dough that I forgot to photograph. "Braid" (or twist, really) the two strips together. Place the braided dough into a lightly greased loaf pan and sprinkle with parmesan. Cover and allow to rise again for 30 minutes.
Step 7
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Step 8
Bake bread for 35 minutes, or until it reaches an internal temperature of 190 degrees F. (I had to cover mine with foil for the last 10 minutes because it was browning very quickly.)
Step 9
Allow to cool on a wire rack for about 2.4 nanoseconds before the family demands to try some. Cut into thick slices and slather with butter.

Results

Weekend-AllThe Husband and The Assistant both took slices of the bread for the next day’s lunch, though The Assistant reports that “it’s not ‘oh my goodness’ yummy when it’s not steamy hot and making the butter melt.” That’s pretty much the case for all breads, if you ask me.

If you want to make this with the kids, let them spread the pesto over the dough. The Assistant took his job very seriously, as he does with everything, so I can guarantee that all surfaces of the dough were covered with the exception of the border that he kept “clean, like a picture frame.”

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