Seriously. I’m thinking about building a wood-burning oven in my backyard for the express purpose of producing perfect, crusty loaves. I haven’t allowed that thought to seep out of my brain until this very moment, but, it’s true. If I could afford it, I’d buy a beehive oven right now.
Today’s bread recipe doesn’t, however, require such a wondrous appliance: a regular ole kitchen oven will do just fine. These bread twists are a direct steal from my lovelies at King Arthur Flour. Their yummy version fills the twists with cheese; SoupAddict puts a, uh, twist on it with some pesto. Both turned out super delicious, so you can’t lose with either version (in the photo above, the pesto-filled twist is on top; the cheese filled twist on the bottom. But you already figured that out, right? With the green and the orange?).
Psst. It’s not. Bread baking, more than anything, simply requires the bravery to make that first loaf. You’ll quickly pick up the “feel” of bread dough, and the characteristics of the different breads. Here, you toss everything in a bowl, stir until mixed, and then knead. The resulting dough will be smooth and slightly wet, but not stick-to-your-fingers sticky.
Adapted with love from KingArthurFlour.com (same bread recipe, with pesto filling instead of cheese)
3/4 cup lukewarm water (about 110°F)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon Pizza Dough Flavor, optional
1 teaspoon instant yeast
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 3/4 cups unbleached all-purpose Flour
1/3 cup Hi-maize Natural Fiber or 1/3 cup Italian 00 flour or 1/3 cup additional all-purpose flour
olive oil or garlic oil for brushing
2 cups basil leaves, packed
1/2 cup pine nuts or walnuts
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
2 medium cloves of garlic, peeled and sliced thickly
1/4 teaspoon salt
1-3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella or asiago cheese.
Mix all the ingredients in a mixing bowl (or the bowl of your stand mixer using the paddle attachment), then knead the dough by hand (or in your stand mixer with the dough hook) to make a smooth, elastic dough, about 5 to 10 minutes.
Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl, cover it with lightly greased plastic wrap, and let it rise until it’s doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.
While the dough is rising, make the pesto. Add basil, nuts, cheese, garlic and salt to the bowl of a food processor and process until very fine and very well mixed (and very green!). With the blade moving, add olive oil in a very slow stream until the mixture is a spreadable paste. You could need anywhere from 1 to 3 tablespoons.
Grease a baking sheet, or line it with parchment.
Turn the dough out onto a lightly greased work surface* or rolling mat. Pat, then roll it into a 20″ x 10″ rectangle.
Spread the dough with the pesto, leaving 1/2″ free of filling along the long edges. Sprinkle with the shredded cheese.
Fold the dough in half so the long sides meet. Press together by rolling over the dough with a rolling pin. Cut into twenty 1″ slices.
Place the slices about 1″ apart on the prepared pan, twisting them as you lay them down, about five twists. Brush with olive oil or garlic oil.
Cover and let rise for about 1 hour, or until puffy. Towards the end of the rising time, preheat the oven to 375°F.
Bake the twists for 20 to 25 minutes, or until they’re light golden brown. Remove them from the oven, and serve warm.
Yield: 20 twists.
*Why grease the work surface and not flour it? Because you want the dough to adhere to the surface without sticking to it and pulling apart. This will help you form the rectangle without having to fight the dough into shape. Flouring the surface would simply allow the dough to retreat back into the ball it wants to be.