Week of Bread: Pesto Whirl

January 31, 2008 at 10:30 am 11 comments

Pesto Whirl Bread 

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. 

Frozen cubes of pesto Olive oil in morning light

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.  

Sifting together the dry ingredients

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.  

Yeast goes into the flour mixtureRough dough after wet ingredients are added to drySmooth elastic dough after kneadingDough rose to double in sizeMixed grated cheese with thawed pestoRolled up loaf in pan that's risen and ready to go in the oven

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.

Pesto spread out on dough

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!  

Ewww, the dough roll leaked!

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…

Buttered slice of 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)

Loaf of Pesto Whirl Bread

Entry filed under: Bread, Recipes. Tags: , , , , , .

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11 Comments Add your own

  • 1. taylor  |  January 31, 2008 at 2:10 pm

    So sorry about the tooth. I like the dentist. I get clean teeth, toys, and free toothpaste!!! Weeeee!

  • 2. Jennie  |  January 31, 2008 at 2:22 pm

    The only thing I get when I go to the dentist, Taylor, is more cavities! And I brush twice a day and floss once a day and even swish this special stuff around my mouth that’s suppose to build up my enamel or something…. I’m cursed, I tell you, cursed!

  • 3. gintoino  |  January 31, 2008 at 6:08 pm

    Jennie, how I understand you! Dentists are not my best friends either. I hope this one was gentle on you 🙂
    Great looking bread. I guess this will be the first one of the SFTF bread week I will try. I know I have some pesto somewhere in my kitchen cupboard. I
    can just imagine it with some grilled cheese (queijo da ilha would be great) on top (I love bread and cheese, what can I do?)
    Some mozarella would taste great on that bread too I think… (ok, must go now…I’m starting to drool)

  • 4. fallenangel65  |  February 1, 2008 at 7:33 am

    I don’t have a fear of dentists – but then I grew up with the same dentist who worked on my parents and grandparents and went to him from the time I had teeth. He was a lovely man who kept the bottom drawer of the filing cabinet filled with toys and if convinced my parents that braces were a waste of money and put me in retainers instead. I talked like Sylvester the cat, but I only had to wear them a year or so. 😉

    I am so sorry about your tooth! I hope your trip was not as bad you imagined.

  • 5. fallenangel65  |  February 1, 2008 at 7:35 am

    PS – the breads are amazing and I can’t wait to start trying them. My grandmother made one when I was a kid from a recipe by Hidden Valley Ranch – I keep trying to find that one because it made kind of a baguette and was slightly blue/green which as a kid I loved. The flavor was great too – but pastel colored bread – now that was fun!

  • 6. Jennie  |  February 1, 2008 at 8:05 am

    Gintoino – Thanks for your sympathy! The visit was not terrible in the end, but I have to go back in two weeks for more poking around. But dreams of bread and cheese definitely helped as I sat in the dentist chair. 🙂 I’m happy to hear you have pesto in your cupboard… can’t wait to hear how you like it! Word of advice though, it does loose some flavor after two or three days so eat it while its fresh, which really isn’t all that hard. 🙂 We may be an ocean apart but we sure do love the same foods! Muito bem!

  • 7. Jennie  |  February 1, 2008 at 8:09 am

    Fallen Angel – I am glad to hear you don’t have the same dentist woes as myself. Ironically I had a great orthodontist for my braces as a teenager so I’m not terribly afraid of them. But basic dentistry is another matter all together…drills are a hideous thing! That’s funny that you talked like Slyvester for awhile. 🙂

    As for the Hidden Valley Ranch recipe, I’m very intrigued! Did the bread taste like ranch dressing then too? Was it bottled dressing or the powder stuff in the pouch? I will see if I can hunt up anything that might work… pastel bread sounds very cool, especially with Easter just two months away…would rolls shaped like easter eggs be too weird?? 😉

  • 8. fallenangel65  |  February 1, 2008 at 9:56 am

    I am going to have to ask my mom if she ever found the recipe. For a long time they (she and my grandmother) acted like I hallucinated the whole event. (grin)

    Yep – it was with the powdered stuff, and the bread had a vaguely ranch taste to it. I remember liking it very much. I was thinking the same thing – Easter, rolls, pastel bread.

  • 9. Letícia  |  June 24, 2008 at 9:09 am

    Hi, Jennie! I just loved the SFTF’s Weeks of Bread – specially this pesto whirl bread. I made it last weekend – it was even better than I thought! Would you mind if I post your recipe (translated to Portuguese) on my blog?

  • 10. Jennie  |  June 24, 2008 at 9:30 am

    Leticia – By all means, feel free to share the recipe in Portuguese! 🙂 So glad you liked it!

  • 11. "sida"  |  October 13, 2013 at 3:56 am


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