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ITALIAN PESTO BREAD (USING SPONGE DOUGH METHOD)
Source: Adapted from Chef Sam
Make: 2 loaves
Group A – Sponge (Initial dough)
250g bread flour
11g instant yeast
Group B – Dough
Sponge (after fermentation in step 1)
250g plain flour
1 tsp salt
40g extra virgin olive oil
3 tbsp pesto sauce (basil) – refer to note (3)
- Place all the ingredients in Group A in a bowl. Fix on the dough hook. Switch on the mixer and let the machine mix the ingredients till dough is formed and the side of the bowl is clean. Transfer to a clean bowl, cover with cling wrap and rest for 2 hours to form a “sponge”. This resting process is called “fermentation”.
- After 2 hours, place the sponge (from step 1) together with the rest of the ingredients in Group B (except olive oil and pesto sauce) in a bowl. Switch on the mixer and knead till the side of the bowl is clean.
- Add in olive oil and pesto sauce. Continue to knead till the dough is well developed (ie smooth and elastic). Do a “membrane” test – take out a small piece of dough, gently stretch it outwards at all the directions to form a thin layer of “membrane”. If your dough still has not reached this stage, you need to continue with the kneading and check again.
- Round the dough, transfer to a clean bowl and cover with cling wrap. Let it rest (at floor time/ normal room temperature) for another 30 minutes.
- After resting, turn the dough bottom side up and punch down to flatten. Divide the dough into 2 portions with 400g each. Flatten the dough and roll each dough into oval shape.
- Place them on the baking pan and put inside an oven with door close. Put a tray of hot water underneath the baking pan to increase the humidity level. Proof the dough until it is double in bulk, approximately 30-45 minutes. This process is called “proofing” (refer to note 4).
- Remove the dough from the oven and score it with anything sharp (ie shaving blade).
- Preheat oven to 200°C. Bake for 20-25 minutes until golden brown/ internal temperature is 80°C.
- Let the bread cool down before slicing into pieces.
- Best serve when it is warm. But you can store any leftover bread in the freezer to maintain its freshness for future consumption. You can either toast it or steam it.
- For a variety, you can substitute pesto sauce with tomato pasta sauce.
- Spray/ sprinkle some water on the dough just before baking to develop a crusty top. This means you will have less of the soft bread inside.
- You can either make your own pesto sauce or get the off shelves ready packed ones (like Barilla’s Pesto alla Genovese – con Basilico Fresco)
- For proofing, relative humidity is 88%, 37°C. For my table top oven, I turn on the oven lamp, spray some water on the baking tin and put a small ceramic dish/roasting pan filled with a little bit of warm water to create the moisture . For built-in oven, you may need to use hot water instead.