I’ve long said foodies are the best sort of people. Generous, supportive, warm, loving. I really don’t know what I’d do without the band of baker and maker friends I’ve made over the years. It is so wonderful to belong to a group where there is rarely any malice, bitching or quite frankly anything other than rapturous applause at your latest culinary creation as well as an outpouring of love whenever life hands you lemons.
As well as the offer to make
a gin and tonic lemonade with said citruses. My foodie friends are a constant source of inspiration and one in particular was my muse for today’s blog post. When Joost put up progress shots of his latest loaf I knew I had to have a go myself. Stop by his blog The Vegetable Chopper to see what he’s up to in the kitchen. Here’s my take on his Pesto & Feta Bread.
As I lack the commitment for sourdough and also, cannot read Dutch, I couldn’t make the exact recipe Joost did which came from the brand new book called “Homebaked” by Yvette Van Boven but I am mad scientist enough to be happy to knock up some dough myself to use instead.
The resulting loaf is packed with pesto and crumbled feta and makes an exemplary accompaniment for homemade soup. Along with various other bonus recipes, you can find my recipe for slow cooker carrot and coriander soup on my Facebook page in the notes section. I like to think of this loaf as the love child of a Chelsea bun and a pain d’epi (fancy French bread shaped like a wheat sheaf using scissors to create each “bun”).
As I had accidentally ordered 1.5kg of strong wholemeal bread flour, I added some to the mix for extra flavour and nutrition. Wholemeal needs more liquid than white bread flour, just bear that in mind.
Joost’s slow proved sourdough would be packed with flavour by the very nature of the slowly fermented dough so I approximated this by using cold water and adding some milk – the cold means the prove is slow which gives a fuller flavour to the bread plus the acidity of the milk retards the proving process further. It took about 6 hours from start to finish so this is very much a weekend project but one I wholeheartedly recommend. I cannot tell you how delicious this was dipped into a steaming hot bowl of soup on a freezing cold day. The whole loaf went in one sitting but that’s another bonus of veggie January for me – cutting out meat means I can splurge a few extra calories on bread without worry for my waistline!
Thank you, Joost, for letting me blog about this wonderful bread.
- 50 g strong wholemeal bread flour
- 200 g strong white bread flour
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 2 tbsp milk
- 6 g yeast
- 3 g salt
- 175 ml cold water
- 3 tbsp pesto
- 75-100 g feta cheese
Mix the flours, salt, yeast, oil and milk together then pour enough water in to make a soft, sticky dough – be prepared to add a bit more or not quite the whole amount.
Using the dough hook in a stand mixer, beat for 5-10 minutes until the dough cleans the side of bowl.
When elastic, place in a lightly oiled bowl and cover with cling until doubled in size.
Flour a work surface lightly then tip out the dough – it should be very soft and easy to pat out into a rectangle about 5-7mm thick but if you haven’t been brave enough with the liquid, use a rolling pin to encourage it.
Brush any excess flour off the top then paint with the pesto and sprinkle over the feta.
Roll up along the longest side like you would for cinnamon buns and then transfer to a floured baking sheet.
Slice almost completely through every 2 inches, pulling each “roll” to alternate sides – be reasonably forceful so they don’t recoil and form a long log!
Spray with oil then cover with cling and once again, leave to prove again until puffy and almost doubled in size and bake for 25-30 minutes in a 200°C oven (obviously removing the cling before you bake!).
Once cooked, it will be browned on top but the base will give slightly if you prod it – cover with a clean tea towel until it reaches room temp then you can remove it from the tray as it will have firmed up enough to not tear.