Pesto Bread

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I love bread. I love it even more now that I must give it up for dieting. This is the recipe I always make for family gatherings.

You will need:

French bread pan for two loaves - grease the pan with olive oil and sprinkle with corn meal

Mixer with bread hooks (or you can do it the old-fashioned way - knead by hand)

Pastry sheet for rolling out the dough


The Dough

3 cups of lukewarm water

1 tablespoon sugar

1 tablespoon salt

2 packages dry yeast (.5 oz)

7 cups flour

1/2 cup cornmeal

olive oil


The Pesto

3 cups of basil leaves

1/4 cup olive oil

1/4 cup lemon juice

1/2 tsp salt

3 cloves of garlic

1/2 cup walnuts (or pine nuts)

1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese


Egg Wash

1 egg white, beaten

1 tablespoon water


  1. Mix water, sugar, salt and yeast in a large mixing bowl. Give the mixture 5 minutes to dissolve and get slightly frothy.
  2. Start the mixer and gradually add the 7 cups of flour.
  3. Knead until the dough forms a large elastic ball. If you are doing this by hand, it will take about 15 minutes. It will only take about 5-7 minutes if you are using bread hooks. The dough should not be too sticky. If you are kneading by hand, turn the dough out on a floured surface and add a little extra flour when it starts to stick to your fingers.
  4. Grease a large bowl with olive oil and also coat the ball of dough with olive oil. Place the dough in the bowl and cover with saran wrap.
  5. Set the bowl in a warm place and let it rise until double (about an hour, less if you are using fast rising yeast).
  6. While the dough is rising, put all the pesto ingredients, except the Parmesan, into a blender and process until smooth.
  7. Place the pesto in a small bowl and stir in the Parmesan.
  8. Punch the dough down, remove from the bowl and place it on a floured surface. Knead it a few times and then shape the dough into a rectangle that is approximately 14" x 10". You can roll the dough out or simply pat it into shape
  9. Cut the rectangle in half and spread pesto on both halves. Don't spread the pesto all the way to the edges.
  10. Tightly roll up each half into a loaf and pinch together the bottom seam and ends of the loaf.
  11. Place the loaves, seam side down in the bread pan.
  12. Take a utility scissor or very sharp knife and make diagonal slashes across the loaves.
  13. Cover the loaves with a light linen towel and let them rise for about an hour in a warm place or until the loaves are double in size.
  14. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees just before the loaves are almost completely risen.
  15. Using a pastry brush, carefully brush the loaves with the egg wash and put them in the oven.
  16. Bake the loaves for 20 minutes, remove from the oven, brush them again with the egg wash and return the loaves to the oven for another 15-20 minutes until golden brown.

This is crazy good bread, especially if you like pesto. By the way, when your summer garden has more basil than you know what to do with, whip up a batch of pesto (without the Parmesan cheese) and freeze it in small containers. Whenever you need pesto, just thaw it out and stir in the Parmesan cheese.


email:  ll.katmarian@gmail.com   © Linda Katmarian 2011-2015