Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Braided Pesto Bread for World Bread Day

Last time around, when most blogs had beautiful breads served up for World bread day, I really drooled over them and wished I could bake like that. Its not that I hadn't baked bread, but it never looked good enough. I hate that it didn't brown enough in the convection mode of my microwave oven.
I have been contemplating buying an OTG for a really long time now, but kept telling myself I didn't need it. My microwave worked just fine and I don't really bake that much. I am a member in two very active foodie groups on fb and read a lot about the ovens everyone recommended there. I am not really impulsive with my buying, but one day, under the pretext of retail therapy or such, I went and picked up the Morphy Richards 40L OTG. And with a lot of inputs from SJ, I finally made my first nicely browned bread in my new oven.

braided pesto bread

This braiding of bread is simple and fun and it makes the bread look so pretty. I followed the recipe from here and it started out as a wreath, but I didn't have enough pesto to fill up all the dough, so used half the dough and left it as a braided bread

braided pesto bread dough

The aroma with that pesto in the bread filled up the kitchen and that's when all those wonderful descriptions of how baking can be so addictive and so therapeutic start making so much sense. When it turns out right, baking is truly something that can lift your spirits and make you feel good about everything around you.

pesto bread in half
The swirls of pesto when I cut the bread in half

Instant yeast has been like a wonder find for me. It hasn't failed me once in the last few baking attempts. Thank you Suma and Sayantani for helping me discover this really user-friendly yeast. The bread was really soft and aromatic and the crust had browned really well. The slices looked nice with the swirls of pesto and tasted awesome with some hot soup.

braided pesto bread slices

I didn't get to take step-by-step pics of how you get this braid, since my hungry family was waiting for lunch, and pulling out a camera at this stage was not a great idea. Check this beautiful blog for the detailed steps

Sending this to Susan's Yeastspotting

Braided pesto bread
Adapted from 'Confessions of a Foodie Bride'

What you need -

For the bread -

2.5 cups flour (I used maida / APF)
1 cup warm water
1.5 tsp instant yeast (I used gloripan) / 2 tsp active dried yeast
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp salt
1.5 tsp sugar

For the pesto -

1 cup cleaned basil leaves
3 cloves garlic
3 tbsp grated cheese (I used regular Amul processed cheese)
1/4 cup walnut kernels (Use pine nuts or almonds if you like)
1 tbsp olive oil
a pinch of salt
3 peppercorns

What you do with it -

For the pesto - Grind all the ingredients along with the olive oil to a coarse paste and store. I made this a week in advance. It keeps well when refrigerated

For the bread -
If using active dried yeast, sprinkle the yeast with the sugar into the lukewarm water and keep in a warm place for about 10 mins. If it gets all frothy, proceed with adding the flour, oil and salt. If not, please don't use this yeast, it will not work
If using instant yeast, just sprinkle the yeast over the flour, add the oil, water, sugar and salt and knead well for about 5-6 mins to form an elastic dough, that's not too sticky. Roll into a ball and place it in a greased bowl. Cover with a moist cloth or cling wrap and allow it to rise, till it doubles. Mine took about 45 mins
Preheat the oven to 200 C
Punch down the dough and roll it out on a floured surface to a rectangle of about 8" x 12"
Spread the pesto over this, leaving about 1/2" along the sides
Start rolling the longer side, towards you, folding the edges in
Use a little water and seal the ends
Cut it lengthwise into 2 and then braid it with the filling showing upwards. Transfer to a loaf pan
Pinch the ends together and allow it to rise for another 20-25 mins
Bake for 20-25 mins (This depends on the oven you have)
Allow to cool slightly before you cut it
Enjoy with some hot soup


Anusha said...

i like the idea of walnuts in a pesto... pine nuts are hideously expensive!! and what will i not give for that beautiful loaf! truly a World Bread Day Masterpiece

Prathima Rao said...

Looks amazing Archana!!!Perfect braid & such a soft & mouthwatering bread!!
Prathima Rao
Prats Corner

Nupur said...

Archana, I have used Pesto before in breads, like pop rolls n all.. I have seen it turns Soggy after a while, so you can only enjoy it while its fresh and warm. I love Pesto and love to experiment with it..

The pictures look tempting ! :)

Suma said...

Lovely bread Archana, want some!!!! So good to have a 40 l oven, I don't have the space right now, but may be I should not think about that and just do some retail therapy - today? ;)

Instant yeast is truly a wonder for me and I LOVE IT!! Have fun with new baking toy!

Unknown said...

So happy for you, glad you have got the MR, am sure its made baking easy for you:) Please keep all your notes ready so that when I invest in one I know what I am supposed to do :)
The bread looks beautiful, the green coloured braids have come out lovely! Happy Baking and looking forward to many more bakes!

Anonymous said...

What could be a better loaf than this to celebrate World Bread day. Looks yum. :)

kankana said...

I make something similar with pull apart bread. This looks more fancy and I bet taste GOOD!

pankti said...

Hey Arch, I made a braided bread, inspired by yours. Though i used garlic cilantro butter in place of pesto, i think i am going to make the one with pesto soon...it's high time i make a pesto and your version looks easy.....


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