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Home Baked Pesto Wreath Loaf

Home Baked Pesto Wreath Loaf

I love buying artisan bread. There are so many brilliant bakeries and such a wide selection of bread available in stores nationwide, it makes you wonder why you should ever bake your own. But I have three reasons: Firstly, it is cheaper to make than to buy, secondly, it is a lot simpler than you might think and thirdly, it smells and tastes amazing.

When I first baked this loaf, I thought it would test and challenge my baking skills; but it turned out to be remarkably simple and effective. Just make sure you have plenty of clear counter space to work with the dough and pesto, and a good-sized tray to bake the loaf on.

 

Home Baked Pesto Wreath Loaf

Ingredients:

  • 400g strong white bread flour
  • 7g (1 satchet) fast-action yeast
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp caster sugar
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 275ml lukewarm water
  • 185g classic green pesto

Method:

  1. Place the flour in a large bowl. Add the yeast to one side and the salt and sugar to the other. (This prevents the salt and yeast coming directly into contact, which kills the yeast). 
  2. Make a well in the centre and add the olive oil and 2/3 of the water. Mix together to form a rough dough. Then add the water a little at a time until it forms a smooth, sticky dough. (You may not need all the water). 
  3. On a lightly oiled surface (do not use flour), knead the dough for 15 minutes until nice and elastic. 
  4. Lightly oil a bowl and place the dough in it, covering with cling film and setting aside for 1-2 hours; until the dough has doubled in size. 
  5. Knock the dough back by punching it sharply with a fisted hand. Lightly flour the work surface and roll the dough out using a rolling pin to form a 30x45cm rectangle. (You may need to stretch the dough out a little further as it often retracts in size when elastic). 
  6. Cover the dough evenly with the pesto, spreading it right to the edges. 
  7. With the long side of the rectangle facing towards you, roll the dough up as tightly as possible into a long log shape. (Try not to squash dough unevenly as you do so).
  8. Line a large baking sheet with baking parchment and lift the log onto it. Using a sharp knife, cut the dough in half length ways. Pull the dough lengthways with your hands to stretch it out slightly. (This will help create more twists in the braid).
  9. Lay each half curve-side down next to each other and gently fold one over the other, keeping the cut side up to make a circular braid.
  10. Press the two ends of the braid together and fold them under to create a smooth finish.
  11. Lay a piece of cling film over the braid and leave it for another 1 hour to rise. 
  12. Preheat the oven to 200°C (fan). Then place the tray in the centre of the oven and bake for 25-30 minutes. (If the pesto starts to colour too quickly, loosely lay a sheet of tin foil over the top).
  13. The bake should make a crisp knocking sound when tapped on the bottom, as well as being golden in colour. Remove from the oven and leave to cool on a wire rack.

 

 

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