Braided Pesto Bread

This is the perfect treat to bring to a party because it looks fancy as hell, but really isn’t that hard to make. There’s one part where you probably need a buddy, but otherwise it’s straightforward if you’ve got the time and ingredients. Via The Brewer and the Baker.

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  • 1 cup warm water
  • 2 tsp yeast
  • 2 ½ cups flour, plus more for dusting work surface
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ~½ cup pesto, purchased or homemade
  • 2 Tbsp grated parmesan
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All the basil for my homemade pesto! I’m watching a garden with TONS of basil plants, and the garden’s owner insists I harvest anything ready from the garden, otherwise it won’t continue to produce. NO PROBLEM.

Place warm water in the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with the dough hook and sprinkle yeast over top. Let sit 10 minutes – if the yeast doesn’t get frothy or swell, toss it and go buy new yeast.

Add the flour, oil, and salt and turn the mixer to low.

Knead the dough for 5 minutes until smooth and elastic – after about 2 minutes, the dough should completely clean the bottom and sides of the bowl. If it does not, add additional flour, one spoonful at a time until it does. [I have a cheap mixer and it still came with dough hooks, which I used. However, you can also knead this by hand. Feel free to youtube kneading advice. For me, I had to add one extra spoonful of flour for the dough to come off the sides of the bowl.]

Form the dough into a smooth ball and transfer to a lightly greased bowl (I just use the mixer bowl) and let rise until doubled (~1 hour on the countertop, quicker in a slightly warmed oven).

Preheat oven to 425 and lightly flour your work surface. Gently stretch and elongate your dough round. Roll into a rectangle ~18×12 inches.

Spoon pesto over top, spreading evenly, leaving a clean ½-inch border around the edges.

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Roll the long side of the dough to you and pinch the seam closed.

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Transfer to your parchment-lined or cornmeal-dusted baking sheet.

Cut the dough in half down the length of the dough and pinch the top ends together. [Spraying your knife with cooking oil helps with the cutting.]

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Working quickly, braid the two pieces, trying to keep the pieces twisted so the cut ends remain on top (this is what makes the bread pretty). [This is the part where a buddy helps. While one braids the top, the other person helps the length of the dough follow through.]

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When you get to the bottom, pinch the ends together and wrap into a wreath.
Transfer to your baking sheet and let rest for 30 minutes.

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Top with shredded parmesan and bake for ~25 minutes, until golden brown.
Let cool slightly and slice to serve.

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