Pesto sauce (basil pesto)is a paste made by blending together fresh basil leaves, pine nuts, garlic, extra virgin olive oil, parmesan cheese and salt. This sauce is ready for use without the need for cooking. If you love the aromatic smell of basil leaves, then this pesto will surely suit your palate. You can either DIY at home or buy the off the shelves ready packed ones at the supermarket. If you are interested to make your own pesto sauce, you can refer to my previous post for recipe and method.
I usually make pesto sauce for pasta, or sometimes as a bread spread. A couple of months ago, after attending a baking class conducted by Chef Sam, I learnt another use for the pesto that is to bake this wonderful Italian pesto bread.
This bread recipe uses the sponge dough method. It is similar to the healthy multi-grain bread that I had featured earlier. First, you start by making the rough dough called a “sponge” (initial dough) which needs to ferment at room temperature for 2 hours. After the fermentation process, the sponge is kneaded together with the rest of the ingredients until the dough becomes smooth and elastic. This dough is then proofed for another 45 to 90 minutes in a concealed environment such as oven. Only after proofing is the dough ready for baking.
To give you a better understanding of this sponge dough method, I had summarised all the steps in a simplified chart as shown below.
Unlike straight dough method, this method is time-consuming. Be prepared to allocate 4-5 hours to make this bread. At first, it sounds quite scary for me as a novice baker. But after trying it out myself, I realized that the actual process of mixing, kneading and shaping is quite minimal. In fact, it only takes about 45 minutes. During the fermentation and proofing processes, you are free to attend to other things.
It’s definitely worthwhile making an effort to bake this pesto bread. The sponge dough method produces better quality bread. The bread comes out with a crusty top, but a soft interior texture. It’s similar to the country style rusty bread, except that the pesto sauce gives it a flavourful twist. It tasted really good even if it is eaten on its own. I highly recommend this healthy bread for your family.
COMING UP! To celebrate this coming Easter, I will share with you a hot cross bun recipe that also uses the sponge dough method in my next post. You will get to see a “live” demonstration on how Chef Sam made this bread at his recent baking class. Stay-tuned!
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