Braided Pesto Bread is everything that is right in the world. It’s cheese, pesto, and bread. I know — the best! I’m not sure what else it could do to win you over short of baking itself, but if you too are longing for summer to never ever ever end, this one’s for you.
Here’s why we love it so much:
- Soft, stretchy dough that is easy to work with!
- A great use for any type of pesto! Our favorites are ramp pesto, walnut pesto, pistachio pesto, and arugula pesto!
- Great on its own, but even better as a savory french toast – yum!
- Easy enough to make that even non-bakers like myself can make it with ease!
Want to take your pesto bread loaf over the top? Add a generous schmear of pesto onto each slice before digging in. Tastes just like summer!
What’s In Pesto Bread?
The bread dough itself is made of all-purpose flour, yeast, whole milk, an egg, oil, and a little Kosher salt and sugar. Swirled into the dough is homemade pesto — it tastes like summer!
Pro Tip: Add shredded mozzarella before rolling if you want it extra cheesy.
What is basil pesto made of?
- Fresh basil
- Pine Nuts
- Olive oil
- Parmesan cheese
Pine nuts are fairly pricey, and if you don’t want to drop the cash on them you can substitute with walnuts or almonds. Just be sure to use nuts that are mild in flavor. Something like cashews or peanuts would totally overwhelm the delicate flavor of the fresh basil.
How To Make Pesto Bread
If you just looked at the total time needed to make this cheesy pesto bread, don’t freak. Most of the time required for this homemade bread is spent letting it rise.
- Make the bread dough using a stand mixer and a hook attachment. Let it rest after for at least 20 minutes. The flour needs time to relax before being braided.
- While the dough rests, make the homemade pesto by pulsing all the ingredients in a food processor until smooth.
- Roll out the dough and spread the pesto over it in an even layer. Roll the dough into a long log and then cut it down the center, leaving the top inch or two uncut. From here, you’ll be able to braid the dough in a loaf pan.
- Let the braided dough rise in a warm part of your kitchen for two hours.
- When ready to bake the bread, brush the beaten egg over top and then sprinkle with shredded mozzarella (if using) and additional Parmesan cheese. This pesto bread will need to bake for around 45 minutes.
Your house will smell amazing by the time it’s ready to come out of the oven. This is delicious on its own, or spread with butter or more pesto! Yum!
Technically, yes. But homemade pesto is so much better than store-bought. You make the pesto while the bread dough is being mixed together, so you should have plenty of time to blitz together a quick batch of pesto! Try it next time with our garlic scape pesto!
Yes, simply wrap it in a few layers of plastic wrap and a final layer of aluminum foil. Freeze for up to 3 months, sliced or unsliced. When you’re ready to enjoy the frozen bread, place it on your counter to thaw overnight.
With the long extended kneading time here, the dough should be pretty smooth. If you find it to be sticky, however, you can always dust it with a tiny bit of flour. Not too much, though!
Once completely cool, you can wrap tightly with plastic wrap or place in an airtight container. Will keep at room temperature for 2-3 days. If past the first day, we recommend toasting to bring back to life.
- Try making this using Sun Dried Tomato Pesto! How fantastic would that be?!
- Cheese: Instead of mozzarella, try topping the pesto bread with shredded gruyere or smoked gouda. Love both!
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- I know it’s a small detail, but make sure to cover the pesto bread with plastic wrap or a dish towel when you set it aside to rise for two hours. If you skip the plastic wrap, your pesto loaf won’t rise properly. The plastic wrap really makes a big difference!
- Milk: I don’t recommend substituting a different type of milk in the bread dough. Whole milk contains a lot of fat, which adds moisture and flavor to the dough. Skip the skim milk for this one.
- Be mindful of temperature. Note that your bread may need longer than two hours to rise. If you’re making this pesto bread in the middle of winter, your kitchen is likely cooler. Cooler temps mean it’s harder for dough to rise, so just be patient!
- Cool before slicing. Don’t slice into the braided pesto bread right away, be sure to let it cool or you can affect the texture.
If you make this Braided Cheesy Pesto Bread, please let us know by leaving a review and rating below!
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Cheesy Braided Pesto Bread (Savory Babka!)
For the dough:
- 250 g (2 cups) all-purpose flour
- 1 (¼ oz) packet instant yeast
- ⅔ cups whole milk, room temperature
- 2 large eggs, room temperature, divided
- 2 Tbsp neutral oil, such as grapeseed, avocado, or canola oil
- 1 tsp Kosher salt
- ½ tsp granulated sugar
For the pesto
- 2 cups basil, packed
- 1 clove garlic
- ¼ cups pine nuts, toasted
- ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
- ½ cup Parmesan, grated
- ½ cup shredded mozzarella
- Make the dough. Add 250g flour and 1 (¼ oz) packet of instant yeast to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with hook attachment. Mix on low speed until blended. Add ⅔ cup milk, 1 large egg, 2 Tbsp neutral oil, 1 tsp Kosher salt, and ½ tsp granulated sugar. Mix on low speed for 30 minutes (yes, really!). Check after a few minutes to make sure all ingredients have been incorporated. If not, stop the mixer, scrape down the sides, then continue mixing. Meanwhile, make the pesto.
- Make the basil pesto. Place 1 garlic clove and ¼ cup pine nuts in the bowl of a food processor fitted with blade attachment. Pulse until very finely chopped, then add 2 cups of basil. Pulse until well blended. With the motor running, slowly drizzle in ½ cup olive oil until a smooth sauce forms. Stir in ½ cup grated Parmesan, then set aside.
- Fold the dough. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface, pushing down on the dough to release any bubbles. Gently pull the top of the dough down onto the bottom. Next, pull the right side of the dough over towards the left side. Pull the bottom of the dough up over to the top. Finally, stretch the left side of the dough over towards the right.
- Rest the dough. Turn the dough over so the seams are underneath. Smooth out the dough into a round ball, then transfer to a bowl sprayed with nonstick oil. Cover with plastic wrap and let sit for 20 minutes.
- Spread pesto. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Use a rolling pin to roll dough out into a roughly 16" x 10" rectangle. Spread the pesto into a thin layer across the dough, leaving only a ½” border along the bottom. (Add ½ cup shredded mozzarella on top, if using.)
- Roll the dough. Dip your finger in water, then run it along the bottom exposed part of the dough. Roll the rectangle from top to bottom lengthwise.
- Shape the bread, then chill dough. Leaving about 1-2″ intact at the top, take a sharp knife and cut the dough in half lengthwise. Turn the dough cut side up, then twist to form a braided pattern. Place rolled dough into a loaf pan (10 ½” x 5 ½” x 3″) lined with parchment paper. If the dough is too large, tuck the ends underneath. Cover with plastic wrap and let sit for 2 – 2 ½ hours.
- Bake, then cool. When ready, preheat an oven to 375F. Brush the loaf with egg wash. Bake for 45-50 minutes, or until dough is browned and slightly crispy on the outside and fully cooked on the inside. Transfer to a wire rack to cool for 1 hour before slicing.
- Leftovers and storage: Once completely cool, you can wrap tightly with plastic wrap or place in an airtight container. Will keep at room temperature for 2-3 days. If past the first day, we recommend toasting to bring back to life.
- Freezing: Allow to cool completely, then wrap it in a few layers of plastic wrap and a final layer of aluminum foil. Freeze for up to 3 months, sliced or unsliced. When you’re ready to enjoy the frozen bread, place it on your counter to thaw overnight.
- Variations: Try using sun dried tomato pesto instead!
- Cheese: In place of mozzarella, try using shredded gruyere or smoked gouda!
Photography by: Cambrea of Cambrea Bakes