This bread is much easier to make than it looks – ideal for guests over the upcoming holidays. It would be the ideal side dish to a soup appetiser or a pasta main course.
Parmesan and basil pesto are perfect partners. The green colour of the pesto forms the swirl in the middle of bread giving flavour to every bite. I also love the crispy parmesan crust on top of the loaf.
You could use tomato pesto instead of basil pesto if that is what you have.
Ingredients – makes a large loaf:
- 7g/0.2oz sachet dried yeast
- 1 and 1/4 cups lukewarm water
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 3 cups plain (all purpose) flour
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 3/4 cup finely grated parmesan
- 1/4 cup basil pesto (store-bought from a jar or tub is fine)
- drizzle of olive oil
- freshly ground black pepper, for decoration
- Put the yeast, 1/2 cup of the water plus the sugar into a small bowl and stir. Set aside for 15 minutes until frothy.
- Put the flour, salt and 1/4 cup of the parmesan into a large bowl and stir to mix. Add the remainder of the water and also the yeast mixture. Stir until the dough comes together and then turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth. You can do this with the dough hook on your electric mixture if you have one.
- Put the dough into a lightly greased large bowl and cover the bowl with cling wrap. Set aside for 1 hour until doubled in size.
- Punch down the risen dough and turn it out onto a lightly floured work surface. Spread the dough out into a rectangle shape which is as long as your loaf pan and approximately 1cm/half an inch thick.
- Spread the top of the dough with the basil pesto, then scatter over 1/4 cup of the parmesan.
- Starting with one of the long sides of the dough rectangle, roll up the dough tightly and then place, with the overlap facing downwards, into your lightly-greased loaf pan. Cover with cling wrap and set aside for an hour to rise.
- Heat your oven to 200C/180C fan forced/390F.
- Once the dough has risen in the pan, drizzle a little olive oil over the top, and scatter over the remaining parmesan plus some freshly ground black pepper.
- Bake for 40 minutes or until golden.
- Remove from the oven and leave to cool in the pan for 30 minutes.
- Serve and enjoy!