Pesto Bread

Readers of this blog may remember that both Streusel and I have a Thing for Italy. We’ve both written about our trips. And, of course, a variety of Italian-inspired foods have gotten solid coverage here, as well. So, it’s no surprise to me that, while we decided to focus on breads from other countries this month, we both somehow managed to make breads originating in Italy. Streusel went sweet, I went savory. A chewy, punchy, and pillowy sort of savory.


This bread comes from a cookbook – The Italian Baker – that I discovered the recipe when I was looking for a bread to dip into the fish stew I was making for dinner. The bread was punchy with sweet basil and garlic, and was perfect for dipping into the rich tomato broth. And even with two separate rises, it was still quite simple and speedy to make. The bread emerges from the oven like a perfect light brown, puff of a pillow, with a crusty exterior and chewy, fragrant interior.


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Pesto Bread

  • Author: from The Italian Baker by Carol Field



  • 1/3 cup fresh basil leaves
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon pine nuts
  • 1 clove garlic
  • salt and pepper, to taste


  • 1 1/4 teaspoon active dry yeast
  • 1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon warm water
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt


  1. Puree all of the ingredients in a food processor fitted with the steel blade; this should result in 1/4 cup of pesto for this recipe. Set aside.
  2. Stir the yeast into the water in a mixing bowl; let stand until creamy, about 10 minutes. Stir in the oil and the 1/4 cup pesto, and mix thoroughly with the paddle attachment.
  3. Mix the flour and salt and add to the yeast mixture, and mix until combined.
  4. Change to the dough hook and knead until the dough is velvety and medium soft, 3 to 4 minutes (note: I added more flour during this step, as my dough was still very sticky). Finish kneading by hand on a lightly floured surface.
  5. For the first rise, place the dough in an oiled bowl, cover, and let rise until doubled, about 1 1/4 hours.
  6. Meanwhile, place a piece of parchment paper onto a cookie sheet, and set aside.
  7. Once doubled, turn the dough back onto the lightly floured surface, and punch down. Knead briefly to expel the air, and shape into a round loaf. Place seam side down on the cookie sheet, and let rise again until doubled, about 45 minutes.
  8. To bake, heat the oven to 450. If you are using baking stones, turn the oven on 30 minutes before baking. Place the loaf in the oven by sliding the parchment off the cookie sheet, and directly onto the stones (or, if not using stones, just place the entire cookie sheet in the oven).
  9. Immediately reduce the heat to 400. Bake 35-40 minutes, and cool completely on racks before serving.
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