Pull apart bread is such a useful recipe! It makes a great side dish for dinner, goes perfectly with soup for lunch and is the best thing to take to a potluck!
It's been a while since I've shared a new bread recipe, so why not get everyone back into bread making in time for the cooler months of comfort food with a made from scratch bread challenge! This is the April "made from scratch" challenge - if you missed the last ones, you can check out all of the previous challenge recipes here.
This pesto cheese pull apart bread is absolutely our favourite thing at the moment. The bread is super soft, the pesto and cheese are the perfect combination and it's practically impossible to stop eating it!
The dough recipe is the same as my cinnamon roll recipe. This dough is an enriched dough, meaning it has the addition of egg, milk and butter which makes it a rich, buttery and absolutely delicious bread!
The process is simple, but let's break it down.
Mix the yeast, sugar and water together and let it bubble up. This is called activating the yeast, and it's how you know it's going to do it's job!
For more information on baking with yeast, check out this post here.
Then add the flour, salt, melted butter, milk and an egg and knead it either in a stand mixer or by hand, for about 5-7 minutes or until the dough is soft and bounces back when you press it lightly with your finger.
Let the dough rise until doubled in size before rolling it out into a rectangle shape. I find I often need to use my hands to shape it back into a rectangle as I go along - it's pretty important to have a perfect rectangle shape, as this means the roll is even the whole way down. Spread the dough with pesto, top with grated cheese and roll it up tight, starting from the long end and pinching it slightly to seal at the other end.
Now the tricky part - but it's really not that bad! Take a sharp knife and starting about 2cm from the top of the roll, slice it right down the middle. Gently rotate each half of the roll so that the open side is facing upwards - you want to keep this on top as this is what makes it look pretty!
Twist the two pieces together, trying to keep the open side facing up as much as possible. When you get to the end, pinch the ends together and push the loaf together to make it fit the loaf tin and gently transfer it into the tin.
Cover the roll with the same tea towel and leave in a warm place to rise again for 45 minutes or until almost doubled in size.
While the bread is rising, heat the oven to 180°C and then bake for 25-30 minutes or until the bread is golden brown on top and starting to brown up on the bottom of the loaf. Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly before serving.
The thing that I love the most about this bread is that you are not limited to just pesto and cheese for the filling! You could try:
- Ham & cheese
- Marmite/vegemite and cheese
- Tomato relish & cheese
- Honey mustard, ham and cheese
- Ham, pineapple and cheese
And stay tuned for a sweet version coming your way before the weekend!
Pesto Cheese Pull Apart Bread
- 2 teaspoons active dry or instant yeast (about 8 grams)
- 1 Tablespoon sugar
- ¼ cup warm water (40-45°C/104-113°F - see note 1)
- 2 ½ cups high grade/bread flour
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ cup warm milk (warm to the touch)
- 25 grams butter (melted)
- 1 egg
- ⅓ cup pesto
- ½ cup grated cheese
- ¼ cup parmesan cheese (for sprinkling on top)
- In a large bowl (the bowl for your stand mixer if using) add the yeast, sugar and warm water and whisk gently to combine. Allow to sit for 5-10 minutes until the mixture is foamy.
- Add the remaining dough ingredients and knead using a stand mixer with the dough hook on low speed for 5 minutes, or by hand for 7 minutes, or until the dough forms a soft ball that springs back when lightly pressed. You should be able to handle the dough without it being too sticky, so add slightly more flour if you need.
- Transfer into a large clean bowl and cover in glad wrap or a clean tea towel and put in a warm place to rise for 40-50 minutes or until almost doubled in size (see note 2)
- Tip the dough out of the bowl onto a lightly floured surface and gently roll out into a rectangle that is approximately 45cm x 25cm (17.5" x 10").
- Spread the pesto evenly over the dough and sprinkle the grated cheese evenly over top, leaving a small gap at one of the long ends (so that it will stick together when rolled)
- With the longest edge close to you, tightly roll the dough up into a roll, pinching the end slightly to seal the roll.
Shaping the loaf
- Spray the loaf tin with cooking spray or line it with baking paper. Starting 2cm from one end, use a sharp knife to slice the roll in half lengthways, right down the centre. Gently rotate each half of the roll so that the open side is facing upwards.
- Twist the two pieces together, trying to keep the open side facing up as much as possible. When you get to the end, pinch the ends together and push the loaf together to make it fit the loaf tin. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese.
- Cover the roll with the same tea towel and leave in a warm place to rise again for 45 minutes or until almost doubled in size.
- While the bread is rising, heat the oven to 180°C and then bake for 25-30 minutes or until the bread is golden brown on top and starting to brown up on the bottom of the loaf. Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly before serving.
- If you are not eating the bread immediately, cover and store at room temperature overnight or in the fridge for a couple of days until you are ready to serve. Warm the bread in the oven when you are ready to eat. You can also freeze the bread on the day of baking in a large snaplock bag. Thaw overnight in the fridge and then heat in the oven (180°C/350°F for around 10 minutes or until warmed all the way through) before and serving.