June 2, 2011 § 2 Comments
Oh sweet, sweet pesto bread (not actually sweet by the way, just a swirly, savory deliciousness), you are my new favorite type of bread. That’s saying a lot because I really like bread. I have always loved bread. Its softness, warmth and lightly crunchy exterior–how can anyone resist? And by the way, when I say I like bread I’m not referring to store bought bread, I mean fresh out of the oven bread from home. You really haven’t had bread until you’ve had homemade bread. I still haven’t mastered the art of bread making, nowhere close to that yet, but I hope that someday I will.
Funny, yet not so funny story…When I was in the fifth grade I was part of a science club, yup, I a true ‘nerd’. In our club we just did a variety of science experiments ranging from baking soda volcanoes to homemade ice cream in a bag. One of our experiments was to make bread, how that was relevant to our science class I’m not sure, but we were excited nonetheless. We made the dough at school and were told to go home and bake it ourselves. I did as I was told and baked my bread according to the instructions and then when it was ready I ate it. A few hours later I was feeling very ill. I’ll save you the details but the bread didn’t settle well. After that experiment I felt sick to my stomach every time I smelled baking bread. I literally ran away from Subways’ and bakeries. Up until last year I really couldn’t stand that smell. Last summer, with lots of free time on my hands, I decided it was time to get over my fears. A friend and I set out to make some bread. Attempt number one died quickly when I realized that you weren’t suppose to use boiling water with yeast. Attempt two was relatively successful except for the fact that I forgot the salt, so it tasted pretty bad. But after the second attempt I had realized that I was totally over my bread phobia! Then the next challenge I set for myself was to actually make some good bread. It took a few more tries but eventually I made a baguette that tasted pretty good. Now I’m baking bread quite often and finally enjoying the lovely smells that come with it. I hope that you try this bread recipe, it almost smells like a pasta dinner when its in the oven.
I do think this would make for some lovely sandwich bread, pretty and tasty. Thus far I have only tried it toasted with butter, and by itself–both wonderful. This also might make some very interesting croutons. Ideas, ideas…
Speaking of bread, I have a bread project I am working on tomorrow. It will be an all day affair, but I am excited. I’ll be sure to post it once I have finished it.
Adapted from The Knead for Bread
2 cups warm milk
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon salt
1 tablespoon instant yeast
5 -5 1/2 cups bread flour
2/3 cup pesto
1 cup grated Parmesan
In a large bowl combine the milk, olive oil, sugar, salt and instant yeast. Mix till well blended. Add in a cup of flour and beat with a wooden spoon till smooth. Add in another three and half cup of flour and do the same. Now, sprinkle a half cup of flour onto a flat surface and pour out the dough on top. Begin to knead and slowly add in more flour till the dough no longer sticks to the table. Knead for about 8 – 10 minutes. Add a little olive oil into a large bowl ( about a tablespoon ). Place dough into the bowl and turn over a few times to lightly coat all sides. Cover with plastic wrap and allow to rest for an hour or till double in bulk.
Pour out the dough onto a very lightly floured surface. Cut in half. Using your fingers flatten out one of the pieces. Roll out to a 9 x 14 rectangle. Spread half the pesto and 1/4 of a cup Parmesan on top. Bring in the side by a half inch and then roll the dough like a jelly roll. Pinch the seam closed. Take a sharp knife and cut down the center length wise. Open the jelly roll exposing the inside of the roll.Take the two cut pieces and braid them together with the cut side always facing up.
Place the bread into a greased 4 1/2 X 8 inch loaf pan. Now, repeat this whole process with the second piece of dough. Then cover both loaves with plastic wrap and allow to rest for an hour or till double in bulk. Sprinkle the tops with the remaining Parmesan cheese and place into a preheated 375 degree oven for 30 – 35 minutes. Check the bread about 10 minutes before they are finished to see if you need to cover with tin foil if they are getting to brown. Remove from oven and allow to cool on a wire rack.