Braided Pesto Bread

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Bread is definitely one of my favorite food groups, so when I came across this on 
Pinterest, I knew I had to make it.

I think it has a great look about it and was really easy to make. And as expected, delicious.

I have lots of fresh basil, so it was a cinch to whip up some pesto.

I just put a big handful of basil leaves into my processor, added about 1/3 cup of pecans (that's what I had on hand), 1/3 cup of freshly grated parmesan cheese, squeeze of 1/2 lemon, salt and pepper. With the machine running I poured in enough olive oil to make it all come together and have a nice spreadable consistency. Wham bam done.

The next morning after I made this, I went into the kitchen and saw a note on the fridge that my 17 year old son, Christopher, had put up there, that said, "Million Dollar Meal, make pizza dough out of this" with a smiley face. Evidently he enjoyed it. I thought that was pretty funny, then thought...yeah, that would be good.

Braided Pesto Bread

1 cup warm water
2 tsp yeast
1 tsp sugar
2 1/2 cups flour, plus more for dusting work surface
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup pesto, purchased or homemade
2 Tbsp grated parmesan

Place warm water in the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with the dough hook; add sugar and sprinkle yeast over top. Let it sit until yeast is dissolved and frothy, apprx. 10 minutes.

Add the flour, oil, and salt and turn the mixer to low. Knead the dough for 5 minutes until smooth and elastic - after about 2 minutes, the dough should completely clean the bottom and sides of the bowl. If it does not, add additional flour, one spoonful at a time until it does.

Form the dough into a smooth ball and transfer to a lightly greased bowl, cover with a kitchen towel and let rise until doubled, 40-60 minutes.

Preheat oven to 425.

Lightly flour your work surface. Flatten dough out gently, then roll into a rectangle ~18x12 inches. Spoon pesto over top, spreading evenly, leaving a clean 1/2-inch border around the edges. Starting at the long side of the dough, roll up and pinch the seam closed.

Transfer to your parchment-lined or cornmeal-dusted baking sheet. Cut the dough in half down the length of the dough and pinch the top ends together. Working quickly, braid the two pieces, trying to keep the pieces twisted so the cut ends remain on top (this is what makes the bread pretty). When you get to the bottom, pinch the ends together and wrap into a wreath. Fold technique is found here.

Transfer to your baking sheet and let rest for 30 minutes. Top with shredded parmesan and bake for 20-25 minutes, or until golden brown.

Let cool slightly and slice to serve.

Source: Confessions of a Foodie Bride

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