food 4 tots

Italian pesto bread

Italian pesto bread



Source: Adapted from Chef Sam

Make: 2 loaves


Group A – Sponge (Initial dough)
250g bread flour
11g instant yeast
170g water

Group B – Dough
Sponge (after fermentation in step 1)
250g plain flour
1 tsp salt
50g water
40g extra virgin olive oil
3 tbsp pesto sauce (basil) – refer to note (3)


  1. 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”.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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).
  7. Remove the dough from the oven and score it with anything sharp (ie shaving blade).
  8. Preheat oven to 200°C. Bake for 20-25 minutes until golden brown/ internal temperature is 80°C.
  9. Let the bread cool down before slicing into pieces.
  10. 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.


  1. For a variety, you can substitute pesto sauce with tomato pasta sauce.
  2. 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.
  3. 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)
  4. 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.


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  1. I like bread baked with sponge method as they are usually more flavourful. Yours looks absolutely perfect!

  2. Joanne says:

    I made pesto pine nut bread not too long ago using the no-knead method but I think your crust looks much crispier and the insides softer. I’m going to have to give this one a try!

  3. Anh says:

    You are such a detailed writer! The diagram is so helpful for a novice baker!

    Love the idea of pesto bread. Yum!

  4. peachkins says:

    I bet this bread tastes fantastic! Its also perfect to pair with tomato based pasta!

  5. Alice says:

    Nice looking bread and healthy too! Hope I have patience in making this bread 🙁 Thanks for this wonderful recipe! 🙂

  6. This looks like the one baked in Bakeries. They are too too PERFECT.

  7. Jason Wong says:

    May be you could try the pesto on grilled fish or chicken. First season the fillets with salt and pepper, the pan grilled it with a bit of Olive Oil till half done. Then spoon the pesto sauce on top of the fillets and baked it until the ripeness that you want.

    • food-4tots says:

      Jason Wong: Hmmm…that’s sound really interesting! I had paired pesto with prawn but not fish and chicken. Will definitely try out your method. Tks a lot for your kind sharing! 😉

  8. NKOTB says:

    I don’t seems to be able to find pine nuts in Penang… 🙁

    • food-4tots says:

      NKOTB: You can try supermarket (eg Cold Storage or Jaya Jusco), organic shop, local baking supply shop or Chinese medicinal shop. Go and look at these locations: organic section, dry food section or the fridge (for organic shops and local baking supply shop). I bought my latest batch from a large Chinese medicinal shop in KL. The supply will be more during Chinese New Year and Christmas. If you still have problem getting it, let me know yeah. 😉

  9. Every time I see you baking, I have the urge to go and get myself an oven lol….
    I think I smell the mouth-watering fragrant coming out from my computer’s screen….
    Ma ma mia!!! Finger licking good 🙂

  10. foodbin says:

    the bread should go well with a spread of Avocado with a dash of salt and pepper.

  11. tigerfish says:

    Novice baker?!?!? Cannot be!
    Such professional baking.

    Sometimes, I slather some pesto on top of grilled fish, which reminds me…”when was the last time I make pesto”….hmmmm….

    • food-4tots says:

      Tigerfish: Yes, my baking journey is just started. Still a long way to become a professional baker. I think it could be my KitchenAid standing mixer is doing a great job! Time to make your pesto! 😉

  12. felicia says:

    this is beautiful!
    love the green tinge to it 🙂
    i definitely prefer using the sponge method.
    always works better for me.
    can’t wait for the next post!

    • food-4tots says:

      Felicia: Tks! Yeah, it works great for me too. I love this sponge dough method very much and don’t mind to spend the good 5 hours to make it. I must work extra hard to finalise my next post now. Hehehe! 🙂

  13. evelyn ng says:

    I have a bread machine and use to make white or wholemeal bread. But the texture is so chewy. It’s not the same texture as we bought off the shelves from Four Leaves. So I stopped.

    • food-4tots says:

      Evelyn Ng: I think if not mistaken, those breads in the bakery shops have bread improver to soften it. Could it be your dough is over-kneaded? Just my guess. The method used (sponge dough method vs straight dough method) will also make a difference in term of the texture. If you’re really interested in making bread/ cake, why not consider to invest a KitchenAid standing mixer? It comes with 2 free baking classes too. It’s worth the investment. 😉

      • evelyn ng says:

        I had a braun standing mixer that I never used. I find it to cucumberson to assemble and wash. If I buy it again, my hubby will sure disapprove :p

        • food-4tots says:

          Evelyn Ng: My KitchenAid is also very heavy. But I’m used to it now after a while. If your Braun standing mixer can be used for kneading, then give this recipe a try. 😉

  14. Pat says:

    I must make this recipe! I plan on making it over the weekend….but, don’t bash me! Please can you give me regular measurements for this recipe? I don’t know how to convert grams nor do I have a scale at home. Pretty please or if you could point me in the right direction to convert this, I will stop at nothing, this bread has to be made! Thanks so much!

    • food-4tots says:

      Pat: I’m so happy to know about your excitement to try out this recipe. For conversion, you can try to check out this site. If you’re really interested in making bread, do consider getting a digital scale. It’s really worth the investment. I used it most of the time for my baking and cooking too. Happy trying! Hope to hear from you soon.

  15. noobcook says:

    your bread looks fantastic! I love pesto and it’s such a great idea to add in your bread. I agree with tigerfish, this is professional standard :p

  16. LCOM says:

    Your bread looks great and so yummy dip with pesto sauce.

  17. Pei-Lin says:

    Agreed! Bread made with sponge tastes superior! In fact, I made some rustic French country-style bread with sponge, too! Thanks for sharing these with us! The bread definitely looks good! Healthy!

  18. kat says:

    Hi! Beautiful looking loaves. My daughter loves pesto and I would like to try this recipe. But I don’t have a stand mixer, only breadmaker. I will try it out and see how it goes. Will let you know whether it is successful or not! 😀

  19. mycookinghut says:

    Pesto! What’s more it’s pesto bread! This is a must try!
    I should really get into bread baking more now 😉

    • food-4tots says:

      Lee Mei: Yes, it is a must try for you if pesto is your favourite sauce. Tell you a secret, I’m “addicted” to bread baking now. Don’t blame me if you got addicted too. LOL! 😉

  20. Miss B says:

    This is really interesting, pesto bread… hmmn i should give it a try although i am new in making bread 🙂

    • food-4tots says:

      Miss B: Thanks! This bread is very simple and easy to make, suitable for newbie in making bread. It will be even better if you have a bread kneading machine. It will save you lots of time. 😉

  21. JC says:

    Your bread look so delicious. I’m new in baking so if we are making this bread at home using table top oven, what is the temperature of hot water should we have for proofing? Boil the water then straight put in the oven (will the yeast die if too hot) or wait for it to cool down a little? Haha… can we spary some water on the dough if it’s too dry? Wow… so many question must pay you consultation fees :p

    • food-4tots says:

      JC: The hot boiling water is around 90C for table top oven. Do not put too much. You only need it to create some internal steam. During proofing, your dough will be moist so there is no need to spray water. But before baking, you can spray water on the dough. This is to create a crusty top for the bread. You are always welcome. I can understand your situation. It is quite difficult to visualise as you didn’t see the baking demo. Feel free to email me if you want. Happy baking! 😉

  22. Cecilia says:

    Can we use a bread maker for this recipe?

  23. mamanine says:

    look delicious… is this recipe/result must use standing mixter? Can we archive this by kneading with hands (traditional way :-p)

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