We loved our recipe for Sweet Braided Bread so much that we came up with the idea to prepare a savory version. The distinctive flavor of pesto makes this bread so delicious that it is perfect to serve and share during the holiday season. Be sure to read the recipe until the end and watch the video to see the complete process. Let’s start!
This savory braided bread perfectly blends the flavors of basil, olive oil, garlic, and parmesan cheese. We cut the cheese into thick slices but you can use grated as well.
Like the Sweet Braided Bread this recipe is easy to make but it takes some time since you knead the dough for 15 minutes and then let it rise.
Ingredients for the dough:
4 cups flour (preferably bread flour)
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons yeast
¼ cup sugar
⅔ cup warm milk
6 tablespoons butter (plus an additional tablespoon for greasing)
Ingredients for the filling: (split these ingredients into equal parts)
1 cup pesto**
1 cup parmesan cheese grated or cut in slices
2 tablespoons melted butter
** You can buy pesto or make it yourself by blending 2 cups fresh basil, ¾ cup olive oil, ½ cup pine nuts or other nuts such as walnuts, pecans or almonds (optional), 2 garlic cloves, and ½ cup grated parmesan cheese.
On a clean flat surface, add the flour to form a circle as shown as shown in the image below and sprinkle salt over the flour.
Add the warm milk, sugar, and yeast and mix well. Next, add the eggs, one by one, and the butter. Slowly mix the flour with the liquid being careful not to break the circle completely so the liquid stays inside. When it is completely incorporated, knead the dough for 15 minutes until smooth and elastic. If you have a stand mixer with a hook attachment for kneading dough, by all means feel free to use it, but we think it is more fun to use our hands!
Grease a large bowl and add the dough. Cover with a kitchen towel and let it rise for 1 to 1 ½ hours or until double in size.
After the dough has doubled in size, punch it down. Generously grease the flat surface that you used before with butter and place the dough on it. Divide the dough in half. Roll out one of the halves to form a rectangle about 12 inches long. Use a kitchen brush to spread the dough with melted butter and top with ½ cup pesto and ⅓ cup parmesan cheese.
Roll up the dough and pinch the edges together to seal. Use the Chef’s Knife from our Elite Series Cutlery to slice the dough in half, lengthwise, leaving one inch uncut at one end. Braid the two strips together, and tuck the last end under the bread. Repeat with the other half of the dough. Place the braid in the Contessa, previously greased or lined with parchment paper. Cover with a kitchen towel and let it rise again for 1 to 1 ½ hours or until double in size.
Preheat the oven to 350 °F (175 °C) and bake for 25 minutes or until nicely browned. Remove the bread from the oven and let it cool. Sprinkle with grated parmesan cheese before serving. Enjoy!