Rolled up and filled, this Sourdough Pesto Bread will be such a beautiful part of your meal! Whether making your family feel special or baking for a holiday, you'll love how easy this recipe is.
Nothing beats fresh bread, and when you keep a jar of sourdough on your counter, it's a no-brainer to bake some up! If you've already mastered a French loaf, then you're in luck - this is shaped exactly the same way.
Why You Need This Recipe
- Sourdough (which you have on hand) and pesto (easy to make or buy) is all you need!
- Easily adjustable to what you have on hand as far as milk and eggs.
- This looks so fancy everyone will ooh and aah at your dinner table.
Sourdough - always, always, keep a jar going on your counter. Use the best of the starter for recipes like this one and a jar of discard in the fridge for other uses.
Milk - here's where you can use whey, almond milk, skimmed milk, even water in a pinch.
Pesto - do you have an abundance of basil in the garden? I save some as just the herb, but another great preservation method is to make pesto because you can even freeze it.
How to Make Pesto Swirl Bread
***See recipe card below for precise measurements and instructions.***
Step 1: Melt your butter with milk and honey until it's the perfect yeast-feeding temperature. Then mix up your dough in a stand mixer.
Step 2: Let the dough proof until doubled and just looking gorgeous.
Step 3: Roll the dough out into a rough rectangle. We never strive for perfection here, friends!
Step 4: Spread pesto on the rectangle, leaving three narrow edges and one large border on a long end, just like making cinnamon rolls.
Step 5: Roll up from the long edge that has the pesto right up to it. Tuck the short ends in and pinch shut the plain long edge.
Step 6: Let rest until doubled, which is a good 2-3 hours for a filled bread. Then pop it in the oven and bake until golden.
Tips and Tricks
- Make sure your milk mixture isn't so hot it kills the yeast instead of incubates it.
- Add shredded Parmesan overtop the Pesto for an even fancier bake!
- Let the bread cool just a bit before slicing. This will allow any oil from the pesto to soak in rather than leak out.
Do you have a lot of eggs in your house? Reduce your milk/liquid by ¼ cup and add an egg in to the dough.
photos by Kiara Colebank
I haven't shared a recipe yet, but you can be super basic and just mince up basil, garlic, Parmesan, and pine nuts with olive oil in the food processor. You can also pick up decent versions at the store, and can even find ones without nuts or dairy if necessary.
I use a thermometer on solid bread loaves, but you can try one here. It's hard because sometimes your probe can get into an air pocket and not give you a correct reading. However, since French bread is thinner around than a sandwich loaf, you can pretty much be sure it has baked through when it is golden and sounds hollow when given a tap.
Try using marinara and a bit of pepperoni and cheese in place of pesto. This will give you an awesome sort of pizza bread. And of course you can use your favorite cinnamon roll filling in here and just have bread rather than rolls!
More Soft Sourdough Recipes
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Sourdough Pesto Bread
- ½ cup sourdough starter it needs to have doubled, but can be falling and needing to be fed, it does not need to be at 'optimal bread baking state'
- ½ cup warm water
- ⅔ cups all-purpose flour
- Pre-ferment from above
- 1 tablespoon butter, coconut oil or olive oil
- 1 tablespoon honey sub 1 tablespoon honey for 1 tablespoon maple syrup or 2 tablespoon sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ¾ cup milk (save buttermilk from making butter for this if you have it!) sub non dairy milk or yogurt/cultured buttermilk watered down to to milk consistency.
- 2 ¼-2 ¾ cup all purpose flour
- 6 tablespoons basil pesto
- Mix the pre-ferment of sourdough starter, flour, and water up 8-24 hours before you want to bake. The longer beforehand, the more sour your end product will be. If I plan to mix the dough in the morning, I make it before bed. Cover with plastic wrap or a plastic bag and let sit on the counter.
To Make the Dough
- Melt butter, honey, and salt on low in a saucepan. When it's melted and combined, turn off the heat, add your milk, and stir to combine. With a thermometer or your finger, test the temperature of the mixture. By thermometer, it should be no more than 105F. By your finger...you should be able to comfortably hold it in for 10 seconds. If it's not this warm, turn the heat back on to warm it. If I use a heavy bottom pot, there is enough residual heat to heat the milk, if I use something like a thin enamel pot, there isn't.
- Add the warm liquid to your mixer (or bowl you plan to mix the dough in) and add your pre-ferment.
- Stir to combine; it's not going to combine super well until you start adding flour.
- Add your flour, starting on the low end, and mix the dough, adding more flour as needed just until it's combined, but not a cohesive, nice dough.
- Let sit 15-30 minutes, then knead the dough.
- This dough takes more kneading than most- my mixer kneads on low for 10 minutes, so if kneading by hand, you're going to knead about 10-15 minutes.
- If the dough sticks to the bowl or your hands, add a little more flour, but try not to add too much. It's not a stiff dough, it's on the softer side. Try wetting your hands/counter for kneading if it's sticking and you've already added a lot more flour.
- Cover your dough with plastic wrap or a plastic bag and let rise 2-3 hours until it looks like it's kind of doubled (don't overthink it, as long as it's 1.5'd its original size).
- Punch your dough down, give it a few kneads. Yes, you are letting it rise twice before shaping. For more on this, read the blog post above the recipe card.
- Cover with plastic wrap or a plastic bag and let sit 2-3 hours until it's doubled. To test if your dough has doubled, dip your finger in flour and poke the dough. If the dough bounces back- it's got more to give and needs to keep rising. If the dough stays indented, it's given all it has to give and you can proceed.
To Shape your Loaf
- Roll out the dough into a rough rectangle about 16x8".
- Spread the pesto over the bread, leaving a thin border on 3 sides and a couple inches on one long end.
- Roll up starting with the long end that has pesto all the way to it. Fold in the ends as you go to keep them neat. Place on a parchment lined baking sheet.
- Cover with a tea towel and let rise 2-3 hours, until it's doubled.
- When it's doubled and ready to bake, preheat oven to 375°F.
- Bake for 15 minutes, flip around and bake another 10 minutes.
- Let cool some on the pan before removing with paper to a cooling rack. Then you are ready to slice and serve!
- Use homemade pesto or pick some up at the store. Pesto is a great way to preserve the bounty from the garden!
- Add some shredded Parmesan with the pesto before rolling up for a little extra something.