Sunday, November 6, 2011

Recipe: Pesto Bread

I came across this recipe for Pesto Bread back in the summer during one of those weeks that could have been alternately titled: 101 ways to use basil. I love this recipe for many reasons, including its ability to use up extra basil and serve as a vehicle for other great veggies or cheeses.

I've served the bread a few different ways. I've had it topped simply with butter or parmesan. I've used it as a bread for grilled cheese and caprese sandwiches. I've also had it served cinnamon-roll style and topped with marinara sauce. One of my favorite ways to enjoy this has been to allow others to use their own toppings. My coworkers did this the last time I brought a loaf to the office - everyone brought in their own spread, topping or dipping sauce they wanted to have the pesto bread with. It was so much fun and gave us all so many great ideas on what to do with the bread.

A tip if you're looking to use it for sandwiches: The bread is difficult to slice thinly because of the rigid crust on top. However, even thick pieces will be super-absorbent because of the bread's make-up. This is no problem if you're just slicing toppings and serving on top, but if you plan to melt a moist cheese (like mozzarella) make sure to toast the bread slices first, otherwise you end up with soggy bread!

Pesto Bread
2 hours, 30 minutes
Makes 1 loaf
Adapted from Mmm is for Mommy


  • 1/4 cup warm water
  • 1 package active dry yeast
  • 3 cups flour
  • 2 Tbsp. sugar
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. baking soda
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 cup prepared pesto

  1. In a large bowl, whisk the warm water and yeast until fully combined. Allow to sit for 3-5 minutes, or until bubbles form at the surface.
  2. Mix the flour, sugar, salt and baking soda in a separate bowl and set aside.
  3. Stir in the olive oil and buttermilk in with the yeast mixture. Fold in the dry ingredients, 1/2 cup at a time until dough has come together.
  4. Once the dough is formed, remove from the bowl and roll into a ball. Coat the mixing bowl with a layer of non-stick spray and return the dough ball to the bowl. Cover with a towel and let rest for one hour, or until doubled in size.
  5. Lightly flour a work surface. Place the dough on to the floured surface and roll to a rectangle with a length about twice as long as your loaf pan and between one quarter to one half inch thick.
  6. Brush the prepared pesto over the surface of the bread. Beginning from a side twice the length of your loaf pan, roll the dough jelly-roll style until all of the pesto has been rolled up. 
  7. Cut the roll in half, then cut each of those halves down the middle, exposing the rolled up pesto. Weave the four pieces of dough together, keeping the pesto side up. Place into a greased loaf pan. Allow to rise for another hour.
  8. Heat oven to 375 and bake for 25-30 minutes.
Tips and Tricks:
  1. If you have a Kitchen Aid with a dough hook attachment, feel free to use it at step three instead of folding the ingredients to created the dough.
  2. See photos below to illustrate steps 5, 6 and 7.
Rolled out dough with pesto spread on top.

Dough rolled up and cut in half. Each section is approx. the length of the loaf pan

Rolls sliced down the middle, exposing the pesto.

Four strands of dough, woven together and ready for the loaf pan!

Bread, post-baking.


  1. can i replace half the flour with whole wheat? or buckwheat? what about sundried tomato pesto? don't you know i can't just leave well enough alone!? - ariana

  2. I haven't done different flours in this one, but I think a third or half whole wheat and the rest white flour would be just fine. Personally, I'd stay away from buckwheat in this recipe because it has a stronger flavor and might cover up some of the pesto.

    And sun dried tomato pesto sounds absolutely fantastic. I'm a little envious I don't have some in my cabinet right now.

    Let me know how it turns out if you make it with a different flour combination!