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Aug 5, 2014

Pesto Bread

The swirl in this pesto bread is filled with basil, parmesan, and garlic. The bread smells so good when it is baking.

About the basil....

We've got a bunch of big planters that we use in our never ending quest to have an herb garden. I'd always pictured myself going out into the back while preparing dinner and snipping a few herbs and casually throwing them into the pot. This usually works for chives or rosemary... but basil? Not so much. Just when I need a decent amount, the plant decides to go belly up.

Not this time, basil, not this time... I cannot tell you how happy I was to be able to skip outside with a pair of kitchen shears and snip away.

The combination of basil, garlic, Parmesan, and olive oil in this Pesto Bread adds just enough richness so that a slice stands on its own, but it's not really overwhelming. You can actually use this bread for sandwiches too.

Think of any sandwich on which you might like a drizzle of pesto... This bread marries the two flavors in these innocent looking sandwich loaves.

The bread is super easy to make, and the pesto flavors meld together when the bread is baking. I didn't include pine nuts, but you can add them to the pesto mixture if you like.

I did get a bit of a gap at the top of the swirl, but I think that's because I've been been working with super wet doughs lately, and am averse to adding too much flour. My dough was fairly sticky and kind of difficult to roll up. I think I needed to add a bit more flour to make rolling it tightly easier. That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

Pesto Bread

Adapted from Bernard Clayton's New Complete Book of Breads


5 to 6 cups (22.5 to 27 ounces) bread flour
2 1/4 teaspoons instant yeast (I used a packet of Red Star Platinum)*
2 T sugar
2 tsp salt
2 C hot water, approximately 110 to 120 degrees F
2 T olive oil, plus more for the filling
1/4 C finely chopped fresh basil
1/3 C freshly grated Parmesan cheese
2 cloves garlic, minced


  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk 2 cups of the flour and the rest of the dry ingredients.
  2. Add the hot water and 2 T of olive oil and stir with a large spoon or dough whisk. 
  3. Add flour, 1/2 C at a time, and mix by hand between additions, until you have a shaggy mass. 
  4. Move the bowl to the mixer and mix with the dough hook, adding flour until the dough clears the sides of the bowl. Knead for about 8 minutes. 
  5. Place the dough into an oiled bowl or dough rising bucket, cover, and let rise until doubled, about 40 minutes. 
  6. While the dough is rising, place the basil, Parmesan, and garlic into the bowl of a mini food processor and pulse a few times (or chop by hand). Place the mixture into a small bowl and cover with a small amount of olive oil. 
  7. Oil two 8 inch by 4 inch bread pans. 
  8. When the dough is doubled, divide it in half and press each half into a 7 inch by 12 inch rectangle. 
  9. Brush the middle of each half with olive oil, leaving a one inch border on the sides. Divide the pesto mixture in half and spread each half over each rectangle. Roll the dough up, sealing the seams and ends, and place each log into the prepared pans. Cover loosely with plastic wrap. 
  10. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. When the dough reaches the tops of the pans, remove the plastic wrap, and bake for 40 minutes.
  11. Cool on a wire rack in the pans for 10 minutes. Remove from the pans and cool completely. 

    #TwelveLoaves August: Summer Herbs. The month of July was all about breads and Summer Fun! We have chosen Summer Herbs for our August theme. Let's share flat breads, rolls, buns, grilled breads-whatever sweet or savory version you'd like and whatever you feel reflects summer flavors! Whatever you bake, (yeasted, quick bread, crackers, muffins, braids, flatbreads, etc) have fun and let's have a delicious month of bread for SUMMER HERBS! Let's get baking! This month our hostess is Sherron from Simply Gourmet.

    #TwelveLoaves is a monthly bread baking party created by Lora from Cake Duchess
    Let's see what our #TwelveLoaves hosts baked this month:

    Would you like to comment?

    1. This bread would make awesome toast to go with an herbed omelette too. Yum! And who cares about a gap? It is a sign of being homemade and matters not to me.

      1. Thanks Renee! An herbed omelette sounds perfect!

    2. I was just remarking quietly to myself, since the hound doesn't count, that your swirl was just perfect. Mine always seem to turn out lopsided. Then I read your comment about the gap. Gap, smap. That is one perfect loaf, Karen! I'll bet the house did smell divine while those were in the oven.

    3. What a show stopper! I love the swirl in the center of the bread. I know that my kids would eat this loaf in a day..LOL Thank you for sharing this month.

      1. Thanks so much Sherron. It's always a cliffhanger when you slice one of these breads open.

    4. I cannot resist to pesto. Great interpretation of herb bread theme.

    5. What perfectly spiraled loaves! Your bread sounds amazing!!

    6. So pretty, Karen. Love the delicate pesto swirl and it looks so perfectly fluffy. A fantastic loaf for our August theme!!

      1. I so love your comments Lora. It was fluffy!! =)

    7. The pesto swirl on this bread is pure perfection! What a great bread, Karen! So, so pretty!
      Renee - Kudos Kitchen

    8. We were thinking alike this month!

      Love your pesto bread ... it looks almost too perfect to eat ... but let's be real ... I would love a giant slice slathered with butter!

    9. Karen, Karen, Karen. Your breads always look so darned perfect! Some of my breads had gaps so big they could have housed a family of squirrels. Yours, however? Gap? What gap? Beautiful (as always)!

      1. Robin, Robin, Robin. You always make my day. Seriously.

    10. ooh a pesto bread sounds delicious! definitely would recreate this recipe (if only i could get over my yeast phobia...)

    11. This looks delicious and the swirl is very attractive!

    12. I love adding pesto to breads and rolls but haven't for ages. This bread is beautiful and perfect and what great crumb! I have to try these!


    I would love to hear from you!