Last fall, I made several batches of sweet pesto for the freezer with the idea that it would stretch the summer season into the winter months. But eating seasonally means enjoying winter foods: roasted vegetables, ginger carrot soup, spicy applesauce. Before I start my new garden season, it’s time to clean out the freezer which includes using those precious containers of pesto. To celebrate St. Patrick’s Day, try baking pesto spiral bread, allowing flecks of green to ooze out of the top.
It’s easy! Soften a half cup of butter with a half cup of pesto, then spread over the bread dough, and roll up. The Malden flake salt is a finishing touch that gives it the extra note of flavor that takes it over the top.
4 tablespoons (½ stick) butter, softened
One ¼-ounce package (2½ teaspoons) active dry yeast
1 teaspoon sugar
1½ cup warm (105°F to 115°F) water
1 teaspoon sea salt
3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, more as needed
1½ cups whole-wheat flour
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 cup Basil Pesto Butter*
1/2 cup butter, softened to room temperature
1/2 cup Pesto
1 teaspoon flaky salt, such as Malden
In a small saucepan, melt butter and set aside to cool to lukewarm. In a large bowl, combine the yeast, sugar, and warm water, stirring slightly. Let stand until the mixture looks foamy, about 10 minutes.
Stir in the melted butter and the salt. In a medium bowl, whisk both flours to blend. With a wooden spoon, gradually stir in enough of the flour to make a stiff dough. Turn out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead, adding more flour as required, until the dough is smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes. Gather the dough into a ball, and test by poking two fingers into the dough; if they bounce back the dough is ready to rise.
Lightly oil a large bowl. Place the dough in the bowl and turn to coat with the oil on both sides. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap, and let stand in a warm place until the dough has doubled in volume, about 1 hour.
While the dough is rising, prepare the pesto butter by combining the softened butter with the pesto, in a food processor or by hand.
Once the dough has risen, remove the plastic wrap and turn out onto a lightly floured work surface. Divide the dough in half. Working with one section at a time, roll the dough into a large rectangle 12 by 18 inches, ½-inch thick.
Evenly spread with the pesto to the edges of the dough. Starting at the long end, roll up into a tight cylinder and pinch the seams closed. Using a sharp knife, cut the loaves into 1-inch-thick rounds.
Lightly oil a 12-cup muffin tin, and place each round in the individual cups, cut side up. Repeat this for the other half of the dough in a second muffin tin. Cover with a damp kitchen towel and let the pans stand in a warm place until the rolls look puffy, about 30 minutes. Brush with olive oil and sprinkle the tops with Malden flake salt.
Adjust oven rack to center position and preheat oven to 375°F. Bake rolls until golden brown, about 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow the rolls to cool for a few minutes before popping them out of the pan.