Week of Bread: Pesto Whirl
A short post today, I’m sorry to say. Really, with the upsetting news I have there normally wouldn’t be any post at all if we weren’t in the middle of SFTF’s Week of Bread. What’s going on, you ask? Sigh. I have to go to the dentist in an hour.
Yep, that’s the upsetting news. You see, I really dread the dentist. I could share with you the horror story that induced this borderline, nay, full blown phobia. But it’s kind of gross and doesn’t really belong on a blog about food. Besides, I’m sure (I hope?!) I’m not the only one that has problems with pushing open the dentist office door.
If it weren’t for that darn pretzel, I wouldn’t be in this pickle!! Who chips their front tooth on one of those skinny pretzel sticks the size of the tapered end of a chopstick? Who!?! Me, it would seem. I should have stuck with a hunk of this Pesto Whirl Bread for my pre-dinner snacking. It’s tasty, light, soft and surely not capable of busting up my teeth.
The obvious moral to this story? Anyone who doesn’t like the dentist should snack exclusively on homemade bread. D’huh!
Okay, okay, that’s not really a healthy suggestion. Still, you could do far worse than this bread to satisfy all your snacking desires. It has a very crisp and flaky crust that hugs around a moist small crumb that in turn hugs around the garlicky cheesey pesto. This recipe follows the process I outlined in The Basics to a “T”, making it a great bread to try if you haven’t had much experience before. I tried to take a few more pictures this time to illustrate some of the steps I discussed in that post. Feel free to cross-reference as needed.
If you don’t have homemade pesto on hand like I do, use store-bought or create a mixture of fresh chopped herbs of your choosing and sprinkle them over the buttered surface of the rolled out dough. This technique could easily be applied to the Miracle Bread recipe if you’d rather start with that surefire dough – when you get to the point of being ready to prepare your loaf(s), just use the same method as described here.
The one step to pay attention to in making this bread is the rolling up of the dough once you’ve spread out the pesto. It really needs to be as tight as you can get it without getting holes in the dough. Without a tight roll, the resulting loaf will separate around the pesto once the air bakes into it. Still, that’s not really a problem if you’re going to just tear into it with your hands while it’s still warm!
While the drill does its thing later this morning, I think I’ll focus on warm moist bread fresh out of the oven. That should help waylay some of my anxiety. Although the dentist might not like it if I’m drooling…
PESTO WHIRL BREAD
Adapted from The Big Book of Bread
4 ½ c. strong white flour
2 t. salt
1 t. superfine sugar
2 t. fast-acting dried yeast
¼ c. olive oil
1 ¾ c. warm water
6 T. pesto*
*I used five cubes of my frozen pesto and added a generous tablespoon of freshly grated parmesan cheese. Store-bought pesto works just fine too.
Sift the flour and salt into a large bowl. Stir in the sugar and yeast. Make a hole in the center and add the oil and about a cup of the water. Begin to mix the dough and add just enough more water to form a soft dough.
Turn the dough out onto a floured counter. Knead until smooth and elastic. Shape the dough into a round, then place it in a lightly oiled bowl. Cover with a dishtowel and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size – about two hours.
Punch down the dough on the floured counter and divide dough in half. Roll out each half into a rectangle about 12 x 8 inches in size. Divide and spread the pesto sauce over each of the pieces of dough. Starting from the short side, roll up each piece into a tight jelly roll. Reshape as necessary to form an even and smooth loaf.
Spray two loaf pans (8 ½” x 4”) with non-stick spray and place a loaf in each. Cover with the dishtowel and let rise until doubled in size again. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 425 F.
Bake risen loaves for 25-30 minutes, or until risen and golden brown. Turn out to cool on a wire rack.
(makes 2 loaves)