Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Beth: Summer Breads - Pesto Rolls

Beth's pesto rolls

Around my place, summer means casual food that can be grabbed on the run, or taken to impromptu parties and late night bonfires. Like tomorrow night's solstice bonfire, or tonight's impromptu birthday celebration. (Not that the birthday is impromptu, but the celebration is.)

Summer is also when my herbMage aspect emerges in full bloom to fall upon the bounty of seasonal herbs, especially basil. Don't get me wrong, I love most herbs but I have a particular soft spot for basil. I am guessing that many of you share this particular fondness; basil seems to always have plenty of dates for summer parties.

These rolls are one of my favorite summer breads. Easy to make and infinitely variable, they don't need to be sliced or buttered, making them perfect for those casual summer picnics and parties where cutlery is superfluous.

shaping pesto rolls

The dough is relatively simple, although it does use a starter, and the extra few minutes it takes to fill, roll, and slice into rolls is well worth it for the payoff. I usually make my first batch of these babies in early June and keep making them until the freeze kills the basil…or later if I managed to freeze pesto.

kitchenMage's Twirled Pesto Rolls

Ingredient | Volume US | Volume Metric | Weight US | Weight Metric
water| 1 cup | 235 ml | 8 ounces | 450 grams
bread flour| 1 cup | 235 ml | 4 1/2 ounces | 125 grams
whole wheat flour| 1/2 cup | 112 ml | 2 1/4 ounces | 62 grams
instant yeast| 1/4 teaspoon | 1-2 ml | 1/4 ounce | 2 grams
water| 1 3/4 cups | 350 ml | 14 ounces | 392 grams
bread flour| 5 cups | 1175 ml | 22 1/2 ounces | 630 grams
instant yeast| 1 1/4 teaspoons | 8 ml | <3/8 ounce | 10 grams
olive oil| 3 tablespoons | 45 ml | 1 1/2 ounces | 42 grams
salt| scant tablespoon | 15 ml | 1/2 ounce | 15 grams

pesto for filling| 1 cup | 235 ml | 8 1/4 ounces | 232 grams
parmesan cheese (optional)

If you don't have a favorite pesto recipe, I'd recommend Susan's pesto as a starting place.
I posted a flickr set with a number of photos if you want a more visual how-to than what follows. I did not link them here because they seem to work better taken in order. So click already!

Mixing the starter
In mixing bowl, combine starter ingredients and mix until well combined. Cover and let rest on the counter for about two hours until it is very bubbly. (You can shorten this to ~20 minutes or wait as long as 4 - 5 hours. You can also refrigerate the starter for 24 - 48 hours after it bubbles.)

Mixing the dough
Add water, 4 cups of bread flour and yeast to the starter and mix well. Add the oil and mix until it is integrated. Sprinkle in the additional cup of flour as you go — you may not need all of it, you may need a little more. (As we all know, my flour lives in a fog valley and yours does not, so they weigh differently. They would weigh differently in any case, but that is my excuse.)

When the absorption of the flour starts to slow down, turn it out on a well-floured counter, cover with a towel and let rest for 20 minutes.

Sprinkle the salt on the dough and knead until firm yet supple (like a Chippendale's dancer's butt). This is basically a baguette dough and it feels like it – smooth and neither tacky or dry. When it is done it feels good to knead and I think, "this is what bread dough should feel like!"

Roll the dough in flour and place it in a clean bowl. Cover the dough and let rise until doubled in bulk (about an hour).

When the dough has doubled, turn it out on a lightly floured counter and flatten into a rectangle. You are going to roll this out into a 12 x 24 rectangle and it will take a few cycles of rolling and resting (that Chippendale's reference just hangs there…begging to be used) to accomplish this. Roll the dough out until it starts resisting and springing back, then let it rest for 5 minutes and repeat.

Other fillings

I love these rolls filled with pesto but that is not the only thing you can use. Almost any very thick mixture will work for filling so feel free to experiment. If you think that bread would taste good dipped in it, then it will probably be a good filling. You can even include bacon if you must have that touch of pig.

Many sauces can be made the right consistency for filling by reducing the liquid (often olive oil) used to make it. I have been wanting to make a paste version of my favorite roasted red pepper sauce (mostly garlic, roasted red peppers and rosemary) but seldom remember it when I am in a store that has the peppers – let me know how it is if you try it.

I have also made these with deconstructed pesto: brush the dough with olive oil, scatter liberally with torn fresh basil, pine nuts and parmesan cheese, then roll, cut and bake as described.

Place the dough on the counter so that the long side is parallel to the counter edge. Spread pesto on the rectangle of dough, leaving an inch uncovered the long edge that is further away from you. Brush the exposed edge with water. Roll up the dough starting on the side closest to the counter edge and rolling away from you. The water brushed edge will be the last part to be rolled up, pinch the edge to seal. You should now have a 2 foot long cylinder of dough. (don't you dare bring up the Chippendale's now!)

Cut the rolls into 1 1/2" - 2" sections (my three fingers are about 1 15/8 inches wide so that's how tall my rolls are) and place in a lightly buttered baking pan. When I last made these, I had 15 rolls, which fit into two glass pie pans.

Cover and let rise until doubled in bulk, about an hour. Bake in a preheated 400°F/205°C. Bake bread for 25 minutes or until golden brown (~195°F/90°C internal temperature). Cool rolls in pans for 15 minutes and then place on rack to finish cooling.

Optional: If you want a bit of melted parmesan on top of the rolls, use a vegetable peeler to shave off little pieces onto the hot baked rolls and return them to the oven for a couple of minutes to melt.

Variation: This recipe can also be made into two loaves of bread. To do so, divide the dough in half before shaping and then roll into two rectangles (~9 x 14) before filling and rolling. Don’t cut the loaves into rolls and place the loaves on a parchment lined baking sheet to proof and bake.

Sources and inspiration: The bread recipe is based on Peter Reinhart's polish baguette (BreadBaker's Apprentice) and while I had the idea independently, I must note that Jerry Traunfeld's Herbfarm Cookbook has a rolled pesto loaf in it. This last bit makes me happy that I could come up with the same thing as Mr Traunfeld because as Daniel Leader is to Susan, Jerry Traunfeld is to me. sigh

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Blogger Joanna said...

These look fabulous, and I will try them, perhaps later today, as I made a big pot of pesto last night.

In the meantime, there's something in your post that intrigues me - you mention freezing pesto ... How do you do that? Do you finish the whole recipe? Or do you add cheese and pinenuts later? I'm keen to freeze some pesto this year, because it's SO much better than the bought stuff, and because we really don't eat/trust industrially processed food - but I'm a freezer novice, so I'd welcome your advice

Best wishes,

6/21/2007 3:57 AM  
Blogger Elizabeth said...

These look wonderful! I was wondering - do you think I could substitute a homemade basil mayo for the pesto? I made it the other day to use up (preserve for a few more days) a pile of basil I had, and now I don't know what to do with the bowl of mayo (besides lots of sandwiches and decadent veggie dipping)! Thanks for the great bread inspiration this year.

6/21/2007 9:41 AM  
Blogger Elisabeth said...

These don't only look delicious - they are. I have often baked rolls like these, with just another filling. Did you realize that 235 ml water are by no means 450 g? You would get a bubbling soup instead of the starter. Good look with preparing the rolls!

6/21/2007 11:19 AM  
Blogger kitchenmage said...

urgh! First, Elizabeth is right on the firs water measurement. Apparently my cutesy conversion routine is confused. I'll fix that!

Joanna, It's easy to freeze pesto. I usually fill a muffin pan with pesto and freeze, then toss the little chunks of frozen pesto in a freezer bag. One little muffin cup's worth is enough for a meal.

6/21/2007 1:51 PM  
Blogger lady macleod said...

This is fabulous! I don't cook, but I am sending this url to my daughter who does.

6/22/2007 6:30 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey, hey, hey! Been at the beach, but now I'mmmmm bacccck. lol

I made the starter last night, and hope to make the rolls later today. I was wondering if they would stay overnight in the fridge, for baking tomorrow?

Kevin, I will get around to making the pig rolls, because my husband would love them! Especially with some of that SC BBQ that we make. Bet they would be good with some TX brisket BBQ also.

So happy to be home again, and able to cook in my own kitchen! It's awful cooking in an ill-equipped kitchen.

Hip, hip, hurrah for the AYIB chef's!!!!!


6/23/2007 9:39 AM  
Blogger Bridgett said...

Oh, these turned out lovely. I made them this evening for friends as a test before I make them for our block party on the 3rd of July.

Of course, how could I go wrong with pesto?

And Joanna, I make and freeze pesto abot the same way as listed--keep one batch upstairs in the fridge with olive oil on the top, the rest downstairs in the freezer in pyrex or #4 plastic.

6/24/2007 12:30 AM  
Blogger Baking Soda said...

Love the rolls, they seem to disappear so quickly in this house, little (or bigger ;-)) hands grabbing them right from the baking sheet and juggling to cool while they ran from the kitchen. Monkeys!
Freezing the pesto in muffin pans is such a great idea! Thanks

6/24/2007 4:25 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey yall! I got busy, and had company, so I still haven't made my rolls yet. I am assuming that the starter is still good since it has been in the fridge. Just wanted to check to be sure. All the starters I have ever used were good indefinitely as long as you feed them ever so often. Is this right?


6/26/2007 8:35 AM  
Blogger kitchenmage said...

Judy, yes it's still fine. The most you will get is a hint of a sourdough taste - how awful! Not!

Glad everyone is liking these. I'd write more but I sprained a thumb over the weekend and one-handed typing is hard (make your own joke).

6/26/2007 3:09 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks Beth, sorry about your thumb.


6/26/2007 4:30 PM  
Anonymous andrea said...

hey, these look so tasty! I'm planning to make them to take to a 4th of july party and want to make them tomorrow (the 3rd) and was wondering if I could leave them in the fridge overnight then bake the next day or if there is a better place at some point in the recipe to "halt production" so to speak. I'm a bread newbie so any advice would be awesome!


7/02/2007 6:04 PM  
Blogger kitchenmage said...


I'd either let them sit overnight after the first (bulk) fermentation or after shaping into rolls but BEFORE they rise.They will rise some in the refrigerator and then you can take them out somewhere between half an hour and two hours before baking to rise. Sorry I can't be more exact, but kitchens are really different. You'll be able to tell by looking at them.

7/02/2007 9:46 PM  
Anonymous Robinson said...

Wow. These look like cinnamon rolls... only better! My mouth is watering just looking at them.

7/19/2007 10:37 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If you do choose to add bacon, do you need to fry it before hand? I don't think it would cook all the way wrapped in the rolls... pointers?

9/11/2007 11:59 AM  
Anonymous Liz said...

Wow, this is the most beautiful dough I have ever worked with! I love it. The rolls are great-tasting, too (since I didn't have enough basil on my windowsill to make Susan's pesto, I filled them with a pseudo-pesto made of roasted garlic, parmesan, olive oil, and a mix of the fresh herbs growing inside)!

12/09/2007 5:12 PM  
Blogger kitchenmage said...

I would cook the bacon, at least partially, before wrapping it into the dough. Enough to cook off a little of the fat, which I think would make these less likely to hold together in large amounts, but not enough to crisp it, so it is still pliable enough to work with. If you did/do this, please post photos and let us know how it turns out - it sounds interesting.

Liz, isn't this just the most silky, supple, wonderful dough to work with? It is my go-to recipe for a lot of different loaves and Ihave been able to modify it pretty much at whim with good results. That sounds like great filling!

12/09/2007 5:33 PM  

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