Pesto-Pine Nut Bread & Chocolate-Coffee Bread Cupcakes!
The middle and end of the month are usually slated for my ABin5/ HBin5 posts. This month I didn’t do a middle of the month post because I just couldn’t find the time to bake the breads on the schedule. As it happens, I didn’t manage to bake the breads scheduled for the end of this month either.
Life is full of unexpected twists and turns, and lets just say that this means that I have my hands full at this point in time. It also means that I have so many things I want to do but unable to always do them according to plan.
So this month, this ABin5/ HBin5 post is going to be about a couple of breads most others in the group have already made over the last month, but I managed to get around to just now! Hopefully by the middle of next month, I will have caught up with the rest of my bread baking friends.
There were a couple of breads, one from this mid-month braid (the pine nut pesto bread) and one from last month (chocolate espresso bread) that I did want to make.
I did alter both the recipes a bit, mostly the type and quantity of flours used. HBin5 emphasizes healthier bread through the use of non-refined flours. The fact of the matter is that most healthy breads aren’t very popular in our home, so there isn’t much point in spending time, effort and ingredients on something no one wants to eat.
Pesto-Pine Nut Bread : You might have noticed the HBin5 bread is called Pine Nut-Pesto Bread while I called mine Pesto-Pine Nut Bread. This is not about semantics, but because I made my pesto with walnuts.
When I made my pesto a couple of weeks back, I didn’t have any pine nuts and so made it with walnuts. A few days later I found a shop in town that sells pine nuts and bought some. So my bread has walnut pesto and pine nuts in it.
I worked with half the original recipe, but used only whole wheat and all purpose flours. Spelt and wheat gluten aren’t available in stores here. I reduced the garlic in the recipe to 1/2 tsp (we prefer garlic to faintly hover in the background as a flavour) and did not mix in the pine nuts in the dough.
I had seen and bookmarked a pesto bread recipe that Chuck of Cooking Bread made sometime back. He had detailed a very interesting and unusual way of filling and shaping the pesto bread, and that’s what I did here.
Here’s my adapted version of the HBin5 bread and Chuck's bread shaping method. The pesto bread was good. If you like pesto, then you will definitely like this bread. And I personally liked the idea of layering the pesto in the bread rather than mixing it up in the dough. Not only did it make for a very attractive looking bread, it was also nice to be able to taste the pesto in it.
For the dough:
- To make walnut pesto (this recipe is from Ritu Dalmia’s Italian Khana).
- Put 150gm basil leaves, 2 cloves peeled garlic and 50 gm walnuts in a food processor and process till you get a smooth paste.With the processor running, add about 25 ml olive oil in a slow and steady stream.
- Stop the machine and add 75 gm freshly grated parmesan and process till the cheese is absorbed. Slowly add another 25 ml of olive oil and process till the pesto is creamy. Season with salt and pepper.
- To make the bread : Mix all the ingredients for the dough together. Use a bit more (be judicious) flour if the dough looks very wet. The dough should be moist but should not stick to your hands. Put the dough in a container and cover with plastic wrap or lid, but not tightly. Allow dough to rise for about 2 hours.
- After 2 hours of rising, put dough into the refrigerator to chill for at least 3 hours for easy handling. The dough can be kept refrigerated for up to a week. I refrigerated my dough overnight and baked the bread next morning.
- When ready to bake, take the dough out and shape the dough into an oval. Lightly dust your work surface with flour and roll the dough out into a rough rectangle about 1/4” thick.
- Spread the pesto on the rectangle leaving a margin on the sides. Go a bit easy on the pesto or it can be over powering! Sprinkle the pesto nuts evenly over this and then the parmesan cheese.
- Fold the sides of the rectangle inwards a bit and then roll the dough with the filling, in jelly roll style. Pinch the dough to make sure it has sealed well.
- Now carefully, cut the rolled bread dough into 2 equal halves, lengthwise, with a sharp knife. Twist both halves together like a rope, ensuring the filled sides show on the outside. Place the twisted dough in a greased loaf tin and let it rise for about 1 1/2 hours.
- Bake the bread at 180C (350F) for about 30 to 35 minutes till done. Unmould and cool on a rack. Wait till the bread has cooled completely before slicing.
Chocolate-Coffee Bread Cupcakes : As I mentioned earlier, the “chocolate” part of the Chocolate Espresso Bread had been calling to me for a while. I stuck to the recipe in the book except for using only all purpose flour for this bread.
I was mentally prepared to dislike the chocolate espresso bread for some unexplainable reason. I just had this feeling and am glad to say I was so wrong!
Made as cupcakes, with sugar sprinkled on top, this bread looks so good. They’re not cupcakes, but when you bite into them you might be forgiven for thinking they are. They do have the texture of bread but are very soft, perhaps because I used only all purpose flour.
A quarter of the recipe gave me 10 cupcakes. Be prepared for the fact that this cupcake style chocolate bread is not at all sweet but has a strong chocolate flavour and is perfect with a cup of coffee or tea.
Here's a suggestion on a good way to eat these cupcakes. Just cut a “V” shaped cone off the top of one cupcake and fill the depression with strawberry jam or Nutella, and then replace the top of the cupcake. You can find the recipe for the Chocolate Espresso Bread here.
My Pesto-Pine Nut Bread and the Coffee-Chocolate Bread/ Cupcakes are being YeastSpotted!