The Great British Bake Off is one my favorite shows, inspiring new bakes, new flavors, and new techniques! Join me on my journey to bake through all the Season 8 Challenges.
Total Cooking Time: 3 hours
The Great British Bake Off is a classic show for bakers and those looking for a friendly competition. All the bakes on the show look delicious and I often want to try baking them myself! I finally got off the couch and into the kitchen to recreate some of the recipes from Bake Off! I chose to start with season eight of Bake Off as it is my favorite season and the one with some of my favorite challenges!
I reached the end of bread week!! I did not think I was going to make it to this showstopper. Honestly, I wasn’t even sure I was going to make it through this showstopper. This week’s challenge is a natural-colored bread sculpture. Two things which I have never done before. I don’t normally sculpt bread and natural coloring is not my forte. I’m a plain bread kind of gal. But I never say to no a challenge, so I made a flower centerpiece of pesto bread (green), turmeric bread (yellow), and beetroot bread (red). Not my finest work but I did complete the challenge! (I would get sent home this week, but I was then informed I am already home).
There are two parts to making a pesto swirl bread. One it the loaf and the other is the pesto. The ingredients for the bread reflect that of a standard white bread with the addition of sugar. The parmesan cheese is an added effect for a cheese topping. The pesto is fairly standard but has reduced oil because I didn’t want the pesto to introduce too much liquid into the dough.
Making the Dough
The first step for this bread is making the dough. I like to use a stand mixer for this process, starting with combining the dry ingredients into a bowl. I slowly added in the water to start forming the dough before letting the machine do it’s thing. The stand mixer will bring the dough together and then knead the dough to be the right consistency. I would also recommend keeping an eye on the mixer when the dough is coming together to make sure no dry ingredients get stuck on the side of the bowl. Once the dough has come together completely, I turned it out onto the counter and made it into a ball before putting it aside to rise. The dough should rise until doubled in size which took mine about an hour.
Making the Pesto
While the dough was rising, I took advantages of the time to make the pesto. Making the pesto is pretty simple as all you have to do is add all the ingredients into a blend or a food processor. When I first started out making the pesto, it looks a little too dry to be considered spreadable. So, I added a little more oil. If the sauce becomes too oily, I recommend adding more basil or parmesan!
Shaping the Bread
The “fun” part of making this bread is doing the shaping. I shaped the dough into a rectangle on a flat surface and then spread pesto across the entirety of the surface. Staring with the short side, I rolled up the rectangle to make a log. This step makes the pesto swirl throughout the bread. But I wasn’t done. Because of course I wasn’t done. I needed to add even more complexity by making the dough into a plait (or braid for those of us here in the US).
To make the braid, I cut the log into three strips. I wanted to keep the color on the outside because the challenge wants to see that naturally colored bread! With the pesto facing the outside, I braided the dough back into a log. To make the dough truly look like a garden floor, I decided to curl the loaf into a ball. I kept the pesto very visible through this entire process to keep the green very present.
The last step before baking the bread is allowing it to rest. This will allow the bread to grow again as the yeast pushes for the bread to rise in the new shape. I baked the bread for about 45 minutes to an hour. I really wanted the crust to get that golden-brown. The final loaf ended up being a delicious golden-brown color. And green. It was definitely green.
This bread was a little trickier than I anticipated. One of my biggest regrets after the bake was complete was not add more pesto into the bread for the swirl. While the loaf has a beautiful green on the top, the swirl inside seemed to be a little light. It was difficult to get that green to be consistently throughout the loaf. But I will say, this bread tasted absolutely delicious as the pesto gave it a great savory flavor.
Am I ready for bake-off? I would say no. This challenge was very difficult for me, and the construction took a turn off of a cliff. While the bread was delicious, the design was more flawed that I had anticipated.
Braided Pest Loaf
- 1 ¼ Cup Water lukewarm
- 2 ¼ Tsp Active Dry Yeast
- 1 Tsp Granulated Sugar
- 2 ¾ Cup Bread Flour
- 1 Tsp Fine Sea Salt
- 2 Tbsp Parmesan Cheese
- 4 Cup Fresh Basil
- 2 Cloves Garlic
- ½ Cup Parmesan Cheese
- ½ Cup Olive Oil add as needed
- In a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook– add flour, salt, sugar, and yeast. Mix until combine.
- Heat water to around 100°F. Add water to the flour mixture while mixer is on low speed.
- Increase mixer speed to knead the dough. The dough should come together smoothly and be springy to the touch.
- Shape dough into a ball and place in a lightly grease bowl. Cover and allow to rise for about one hour or until doubled in size.
- Blend basil and garlic together in either a food processor or a blender.
- Add cheese and blend until combined.
- Slowly drizzle in olive oil until pesto reaches a spreadable consistency
Combining the Pesto and Loaf
- Roll out dough into a rectangle. Spread pesto sauce around keeping a ½ inch border of dough around the edges.
- Roll the dough on it’s shorter side until a log is formed. Cut the log into three parts connected at one end. Braid the dough with the herbs facing outward.
- Roll braid into a ball and place onto a baking sheet. Sprinkle with parmesan. Lightly cover and allow to proof (about 45 minutes to an hour).
- Preheat oven to 350°F
- Bake for 40 minutes or until internal temperature reached 190°F
- Cool on wire rack.