Let’s talk bread.
Specifically, awesomely amazing bread.
The bread I’m talking about is fresh French baguettes, still warm in the bakery or fresh ciabatta and focaccia, drizzled with olive oil ready to be eaten. Fresh naans straight from the tandoor oven, with freshly made curry ready to be dipped in and then eaten.
Haha those were the days. Back in Singapore, our school had a naan stand where you could get freshly baked naans and curry sauce or a proper curry to enjoy it with. They always had a choice of garlic naan or plain naan and let me tell you, once you’ve had fresh naan baked in a traditional oven, nothing else compares. I mean I love Peshwari naans, but it’s not the same.
I feel like bread is something we need to appreciate. Everyone goes on about how bread is unhealthy etc, but I think that as long you eat everything in moderation, bread can be a wonderful source of nutrients in your diet. Cereals contain plenty of micro nutrients like B vitamins and can be a source of protein.
Bread is a staple food around the world and it’s easy to see why. There are so many varieties and they all deserve love and appreciation. I’ve dabbled in bread a fair bit, from attempting to make my own tortillas without a press (it turned out alright, but I feel like it would be better with a tortilla press), my own pizza dough, focaccia, French bread, Chinese bread buns, homemade naan and today was another attempt at a braided pesto bread with rye flour.
I’ve had the idea of remaking this recipe for a while but due to the time that bread takes to rise, I kept putting it off. However, I saw how much red pesto we had in the cupboard and realised that the weekends gave me enough time to make this bread, if I set aside a little time for kneading, rising and baking.
While bread does take a long time to rise, aside from the kneading, it’s mostly hands off time which can be used for other things. Which in my case was intended to be lab reports, but turned into a game of “How can Rachel do everything to avoid writing her lab reports?”.
And for those of you wondering, yes the lab report was eventually written, but not before delicious bread was made and eaten first.
Unfortunately as some of you might notice from the photos, the top of my bread got slightly burnt in the oven. Yeah, make sure you set your oven to the correct temperature, rather than discovering that the top is burnt while the bottom isn’t quite done yet.
The bread went down a treat as well. I’m not as keen to make bread very often because artisan breads go stale within a day and I can’t eat an entire loaf of bread to myself and sometimes my family is not willing to share the burden with me.
I can freeze some of it, but it can take up a lot of room if you make bread often. This wasn’t the case this time as this was devoured by my parents and myself so only a few pieces needed to be popped in the freezer. The rest was eaten by us the next day after heating it up in the oven to toast it slightly.
Yes, an extra fun fact there, this bread tastes really good toasted and covered with melted parmesan and mozzarella cheese.
Really, really good.
Braided Rye Pesto Bread
Adapted from: Braided Pesto Bread
Prep time: 2 hours
Cook time: 30 minutes
Total time: 2 hours 30 minutes
Yield: 16 slices
Calories per serving: 115
- 240g/ 2 cups
Rye bread flour (use rye flour if you can’t find bread flour)
- 90g/ 3/4 cup
Strong white flour (white bread flour)
- 10g/ 1 tbsp
- 1 tsp
Instant dried yeast
- 10g / 1 tbsp
- 1 tsp
- 15 ml / 1 tbsp
- 20g / 1 tbsp
Melted butter spread (or butter)
Parmesan cheese, grated
Sea salt and pepper
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, mix together the dry ingredients into the bottom and whisk to combine, making sure to add the salt and yeast separately to prevent the salt from killing the yeast. Make sure that the dough hook is attached to the mixer (alternatively, mix in a mixing bowl if kneading by hand)
- Warm the water and olive oil together until lukewarm and make a well in the dry ingredients and pour in. Stir them together using a wooden spoon until a rough dough forms and then knead with the dough hook for about 3 minutes on medium speed until a small portion of the dough stretched out thinly from the bigger ball allows light through. The dough should be smooth rather than lumpy. If kneading by hand then knead for about 10 minutes until the dough is a smooth ball that is slightly tacky and use the above window pane test if desired.
- Oil the bowl and place in a warm place covered with a tea towel to rise until doubled in size which should take roughly 45 minutes.
- Once risen, remove from the bowl and flatten down into a rectangle. Roll out the dough until it is roughly ½ cm thick and then spread your pesto over the surface, leaving a small border around the edge.
- Roll up along the long side of the dough and pinch and smooth over the edges of the dough. Cut in half to form two long logs of dough.
- Cut these in half along the long end so you have 4 long pieces of dough. Twist together two of the logs and then repeat with the other.
- Arrange in a circle on a lined baking tray and then pinch together the two ends of the dough twists until they are connected and then cover the tray with cling film and allow to rise in a warm, dark place for another 30-45 minutes.
- Once risen, preheat the oven to 180°C/ 160°C fan assisted and lightly brush the surface with melted butter and then sprinkle with small amounts of the parmesan cheese. You can also sprinkle the surface with some salt and pepper if desired.
- Bake in the centre of the oven for 20-25 minutes until the top is brown and the bread is cooked through.
- Once cooked, remove from the oven and allow to cool completely on a cooling rack (I like to cool mine for 1-2 hours before serving).
- Cut into 16 pieces and serve.
Makes 16 slices
Serving size: 1 slice (36g)
Saturated fat: 0.7g
I used Aldi Specialty pesto rosso which has 297 calories per 100g. Other red pesto brands may have different calorie counts and this will affect the final calorie count. The butter and parmesan cheese are also optional, however they do make it really nice.