Bread Making Part 4 – Chilli Pesto Bread

Bread Making Part 4 – Chilli Pesto Bread

Wow! I almost did not post anything for the month of February. Ah! Pesto bread, this savoury bread has a special place in my baking journey. This bread was part of my success on getting on the Great British Bake Off. During the audition I could see the delight that this bread brought to the judges, it was then I knew I was on to a winner.

Pesto Loaf Crumb

The amazing thing about this savoury bake is that it can be eaten on its own, because the olive oil from the pesto seeps into the actual crumb. You can add butter if you are not keen on the chilli and want something to cool down spice, you can leave out the chilli altogether. It also goes amazingly well with most soups, especially cream of tomato soup. You can place it under the grille to toast, but do not place in a toaster as you may have burnt bits at the bottom of the toaster.

Pesto Loaf Crumb 2

When I made this bread recently, I was surprised how spicy it was with 2 tablespoons of crushed dried chilli. So my advice is use 1 tablespoon. Pesto bread is probably one of the most expensive breads to bake if you make your own pesto following the ingredients described below, but make it well, and you will enjoy every slice of this luxurious loaf.

Pesto Loaf Crumb 3

This bread pesto got me thinking the other day how amazing it is that every culture embraces bread in one form or another. You have Naan, Pita, Baguette, Focaccia, Brioche, Bagel and the simple loaf in all its forms from tiger loaf, split tin, milk bread and sourdough just to name a few. This led me to the conclusion that bread is a common language understood by all cultures and probably the most shared item at any family meal.

Braided Pesto Loaf

This brings me onto the subject of gluten free bread. While I have made many variations of gluten free cakes and biscuits. I have never attempted to make gluten free bread for this simple reason. The whole rationale behind bread making is to exercise the gluten to produce a texture that can stretch and rise while resting and continue to do so when you begin to bake. So here is my problem, I cannot get my head around gluten free bread because bread without the gluten is not bread, it is something else but definitely not bread. I’ll call it a bread substitute, but it is not bread. If you disagree with me or you have an amazing gluten free bread recipe I am open to a change of mind.

I’d like you to try out this recipe and if you need any help drop me a line. Enjoy!

Equipment needed

  1. Food mixer with a dough hook
  2. 2 Baking trays
  3. Measuring jug
  4. Electronic weighing scale
  5. Kitchen timer
  6. Small bowl
  7. Large bowl for proofing
  8. Parchment paper
  9. Cling film
  10. Clean kitchen towel
  11. Cooling rack
  12. Warm area in the house for the dough to proof


Bread Ingredients

  1. 500g strong bread flour
  2. 170g strong malted seeded bread flour
  3. 240g warm water
  4. 240g scalded milk
  5. 40g fresh yeast or 20g fast action dry yeast
  6. 10g salt (sea salt is best where possible)
  7. 80g extra virgin olive oil
  8. 1 egg for egg washing

Pesto ingredients

  1. 2 large bunches of basil (6 supermarket 30g packs)
  2. 4 large cloves of garlic
  3. 100g grated parmesan
  4. 150g pine nuts
  5. 1 tablespoon dried crushed chillies
  6. 120g extra virgin olive oil


  1. For the scalded milk boil the milk and take it off the heat just before it begins to boil and leave it to cool to room temperature. (Tip: You may need to heat about 280g milk to get the 240g you need due to evaporation).
  2. Once the milk has cooled add the lukewarm water dissolve the fresh yeast.
  3. In the mixer bowl add both flours, then add salt to one side and cover with flour.
  4. Make a well in the centre of the bowl and add the milk & yeast mixture and the olive oil
  5. Connect the bowl to the stand mixer with a dough hook and knead for about 15 minutes until all the ingredients are combined.
  6. Transfer the dough to an large oiled bowl and proof for about 1½ hours or until it has doubled in size.
  7. Once the dough has doubled in size knock the dough back and divide the dough into 2 equal parts.
  8. Take each part and divide into 3 equal parts.
  9. Roll out each of the three parts into 20cm by 6cm rectangles spread the pesto with a pallet knife leaving the edge on one side to egg wash as in the image below (It does not have to be perfect as shown below).
    Spreading Pesto
  10. Once the pesto has been applied roll it up from the pesto side towards the egg wash side and repeat for all the remaining 2 equal parts.
  11. Place the 3 rolled up doughs by side by side and braid the loaf by placing the left rolled dough over the middle and then placing the right one over the middle. Repeat this again starting on the left over the middle and the right until it is all braided. It should look like the image below.
    Braided Loaf
  12. Once you have braided the loaf place on parchment paper on a baking tray, cover with a clean napkin and allow to proof for about 30 to 45 minutes.
  13. About 15 minutes to the end of the proofing period preheat the oven at 200 degrees C .
  14. Uncover the proven dough and egg wash and place in the middle to lower oven at 200 degrees C for about 10 minutes and then lower the oven 180 degrees C and bake for a further 25 to 30 minutes.
  15. Transfer the Pesto bread to a cooling rack to cool for about an hour before tucking in.
  16. This is without doubt the best savoury bread you can make. Enjoy!

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