Pesto has long been a cupboard staple for me.
My first encounter with this oily emerald lacquer was from my step-mum, who doused it over tortellini (another favourite of mine) some years ago. Naturally, when my mater gave me a lovely pot of the green stuff from her recent gals trip to Norfolk, I had to put it to good use. *Enter cheesy pesto bread recipe*.
- 500g strong white flour
- 1 sachet (7g) of fast action dried yeast
- 2 tsp salt
- 40ml olive oil (plus a little extra for brushing the bread)
- 300ml warm water
- 4 tbsp green basil pesto
- 150g grated mozzarella
- Measure flour, yeast, and salt into a large mixing bowl, making sure the yeast and salt are on opposite sides of the bowl. Add the olive oil.
- Add the warm water a little bit at a time while carefully mixing with either your hands or a knife until the dough comes together in a sticky ball.
- Turn out onto a lightly floured clean surface and knead for around 10 minutes until the dough forms a nice soft ball that doesn’t stick to the surface. Don’t be tempted to add more flour to the dough when you’re kneading; it will feel like chewing gum and completely stick to your hands and the surface at first, but keep working the dough and it will come together to form a perfect soft dough.
- Lightly coat a clean mixing bowl with olive oil and place the dough inside and cover with clingfilm. Prove for between 1 and 1 1/2 hours – until the dough retains your fingerprint when you touch it.
- Once proved, roll the dough out into a large rectangle on a lightly floured surface. Spread the pesto over the rectangle and roll up, starting from the long side.
- Cut down the length of the roll, giving you two long strips of dough with the exposed filling facing upwards. Place both strips of dough on a baking tray covered with baking paper, then gently wrap the strips around each other, being careful not to stretch the dough. Squeeze the dough at each end and then tuck under the loaf. Prove again for around 30 mins.
- Once proved, brush the loaf with olive oil and bake for approx. 40 mins, until you have a dark golden crust.
- Remove from the oven and place on a cooling rack. Serve when slightly warm, or cool.