Braided pesto bread

Barely adapted from Baked by Rachael

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This bread is layered with earthy basil, toasted pine nuts, and a hint of garlic and then topped with a crunchy, cheesy parmesan lid. Pesto is a favorite around here; we make our own and freeze it to enjoy throughout the winter (and that made this bread even easier to put together). When I saw this bread, which was not only loaded with one of our favorite summer treats, but also braided (so fun to do!), I knew I had to try it out. It was a welcomed afternoon snack; fresh out of the oven, with a dab of soft butter. The next night, I sliced thick pieces in half and made toasted sandwiches with prosciutto, balsamic vinegar mixed with mascarpone, fresh mozzarella, thick tomato slices, and sprouts. It was heavenly.

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Here we go!

Heat water to 115 degrees F. Dissolve yeast and sugar in warm water. Allow yeast to proof – about 10 minutes.

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To the bowl of a stand mixer, fitted with the dough attachment, add flours and salt.

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With mixer running on low, slowly add yeast mixture.

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Increase speed to medium high, mixing until dough comes together in a clean ball.

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Shape dough into a smooth ball and transfer to a lightly greased large bowl. (my dough was a little sticky here – a little added flour would smooth it out)

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Cover tightly with plastic wrap, and allow to rise for one hour, or until doubled in size.

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Meanwhile, prepare pesto sauce. (If you have some hidden in your freezer, go ahead and use that!) In a food processor, blend basil and garlic. Add cheese, blend quickly. With the processor on low (and the lid on), slowly drizzle in the olive oil. (Or, if you’re like me, pull some out of the freezer and let it thaw)

On a lightly floured counter, roll out dough to a 10 x 20 inch rectangle.

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Spread pesto sauce out to 1/2 inch from the edges.

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Starting at one of the shorter sides, tightly roll up dough, tightly pinching edges as you go.

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Using a sharp knife, carefully slice dough into thirds end to end.

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Carefully transfer to a sheet pan lined with a silicone baking mat or parchment paper. Braid dough, tucking under the ends.

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Sprinkle with parmesan cheese. Lightly cover with a kitchen towel, and allow dough to rise for an additional 30 minutes.

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Preheat oven to 350 F. Bake for 25-35 minutes, or until internal temperature reaches 190 F.

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Yield: 1 braided loaf

Ingredients

Loaf

1 1/4 cups hot water

2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast (1 packet)

1 teaspoon granulated sugar

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 cup white whole wheat flour

1 teaspoon fine sea salt

3 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese

Pesto (or you can use frozen if you have it)

2 cups fresh packed basil

2 cloves garlic

1 cup grated parmesan cheese

1/4 cup toasted pine nuts (optional)

3-4 tablespoons olive oil

Directions

Heat water to 115 degrees F. Dissolve yeast and sugar in warm water. Allow yeast to proof – about 10 minutes.

To the bowl of a stand mixer, fitted with the dough attachment, add flours and salt. With mixer running on low, slowly add yeast mixture. Increase speed to medium high, mixing until dough comes together in a clean ball. Shape dough into a smooth ball and transfer to a lightly greased large bowl. Cover tightly with plastic wrap, and allow to rise for one hour, or until doubled in size.

Meanwhile, prepare pesto sauce. (If you have some hidden in your freezer, go ahead and use that!) In a food processor, blend basil and garlic. Add cheese, blend quickly. With the processor on low (and the lid on), slowly drizzle in the olive oil.

On a lightly floured counter, roll out dough to a 10 x 20 inch rectangle. Spread pesto sauce out to 1/2 inch from the edges. Starting at one of the shorter sides, tightly roll up dough, tightly pinching edges as you go. Using a sharp knife, carefully slice dough into thirds end to end. Carefully transfer to a sheet pan lined with a silicone baking mat or parchment paper. Braid dough, tucking under the ends. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese. Lightly cover with a kitchen towel, and allow dough to rise for an additional 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350 F. Bake for 25-35 minutes, or until internal temperature reaches 190 F.

Cool on a wire rack. Store in an airtight container.

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Grapefruit and olive oil poundcake

From the Smitten Kitchen Cookbook

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January means all things citrus, so of course that includes putting it into bread. While orange or lemon quick breads are more prevalent, I really enjoy the twist to this bread, which utilizes one of my favorite January fruits – grapefruit. This bread is super moist – probably because after it comes out of the oven, you pour a grapefruit syrup on top and then follow that with a luscious glaze that drizzles down the sides. This makes a great brunch addition, a decadent afternoon snack, or a light and refreshing dessert. If you’re looking for something slightly sweet and hinting of citrus, this cake is for you.

Make the cake

Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour a 9-by-5 inch loaf pan. In a large bowl, rub the grapefruit zest into the sugars with your fingertips.

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Whisk in the oil.

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Add the eggs one at a time, and whisk until combined. Scrape down the bowl.

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Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a second bowl.

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In a liquid measuring cup, combine 2 tablespoons of grapefruit juice and buttermilk/or yogurt.

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Add the flour and buttermilk/or yogurt mixtures, alternating between them, to the oil-and-sugar mixture, beginning and ending with flour.

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Spread the batter in the pan, smooth the top, and rap the pan on the counter a few times to ensure there are no air bubbles trapped.

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Bake for 40 minutes to 1 hour, until a cake tester comes out clean.

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Make the grapefruit syrup

Combine 2 tablespoons of sugar with 1/3 cup grapefruit juice in a small saucepan and cook over low heat until the sugar dissolves.

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When the cake is finished, let it cool for 10 minutes in the pan and then invert it onto a rack set over a tray. Poke holes in the cake with a skewer or toothpick, then spoon or brush the grapefruit syrup over the cake. Let the cake cool completely while it absorbs the syrup.

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Make the glaze

Combine the confectioners’ sugar, grapefruit juice, and pinch of salt in a bowl, whisking until smooth. Pour the glaze over the top of cooled cake, and allow glaze to drizzle decoratively down the sides.

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Yield: 1 loaf

Ingredients

Cake

Butter for pan

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for pan

2 tablespoons freshly grated grapefruit zest (from 1-2 large grapefruits)

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1/2 cup raw or turbinado sugar (or granulated if you don’t have raw)

1/2 cup olive oil

2 large eggs, at room temperature

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoons table salt

2 tablespoons grapefruit juice

1/3 cup buttermilk or plain yogurt

Syrup

2 tablespoons granulated sugar

1/3 cup grapefruit juice

Glaze

1 cup confectioners’ sugar

2 tablespoons grapefruit juice

pinch of table salt

Directions

Make the cake
Heat the over to 350 degrees. Butter and flour a 9-by-5-inch loaf pan.
In a large bowl, rub the grapefruit zest into the sugars with your fingertips. This will bruise it and help release as much grapefruit essence as possible. Whisk in the oil until smooth. Add the eggs one at a time, and whisk until combined. Scrape down the bowl.

Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a second bowl. In a liquid measuring cup, combine 2 tablespoons of grapefruit juice and buttermilk/or yogurt. Add the flour and buttermilk/or yogurt mixtures, alternating between them, to the oil-and-sugar mixture, beginning and ending with flour.

Spread the batter in the pan, smooth the top, and rap the pan on the counter a few times to ensure there are no air bubbles trapped. Bake for 40 minutes to 1 hour, until a cake tester comes out clean.

Make the grapefruit syrup

Combine 2 tablespoons of sugar with 1/3 cup grapefruit juice in a small saucepan and cook over low heat until the sugar dissolves.

When the cake is finished, let it cool for 10 minutes in the pan and then invert it onto a rack set over a tray. Poke holes in the cake with a skewer or toothpick, then spoon or brush the grapefruit syrup over the cake. Let the cake cool completely while it absorbs the syrup.

Make the glaze

Combine the confectioners’ sugar, grapefruit juice, and pinch of salt in a bowl, whisking until smooth. Pour the glaze over the top of cooled cake, and allow glaze to drizzle decoratively down the sides.