Breakfast/ Brunch · Main course · Sides/ Accompaniments · Vegan · Vegetarian

Artisan Style Pesto Bread

This bread whether skilfully crafted or candidly prepared has great flavour and superior texture to any store bought breads. You need a little patience while it bakes because of it’s tempting aroma when in the oven. Free of preservatives and with fresh herbs, this will definitely tickle your palate. I used homemade dill pesto and whole wheat flour to make this rustic and hearty boule. And it’s nutritious and healthy 🙂

Makes 1 small boule

1 cup Whole wheat flour * Can substitute with bread flour/ AP flour

3 tablespoons Pesto *I used the homemade dill pesto which was a leftover after making pasta

2 tablespoon Onions (chopped)

1 teaspoon Instant yeast * If you use active dry yeast, activate it in warm water and let it stand for 10 mins before mixing with the flour

1/2 cup plus a little more or less warm water

1 tablespoon EV Olive oil

1 teaspoon Salt


  • Mix the pesto, onion and oil. Combine the flour and salt to start making the dough. Add in the instant yeast. If you use active dry yeast (activated with warm water), it has to be added while kneading the dough.
  • You can use the mixer or do it with hand. I used the paddle attachment to do the mixing, then switched to the dough hooks. That works for me.
  • Gradually add little water and pesto to form a dough. The dough may be loose and sticky. Whole wheat absorbs water on kneading.
  • Knead the dough on a floured surface till it’s elastic and soft. This takes about 10- 12 minutes.
  • If it’s still sticky add in a teaspoon or more flour to firm it up. If the dough is stiff sprinkle some warm water and knead till you get a silky dough.
  • Kneading releases the gluten in the wheat which gives the soft texture. When combined with yeast the gluten forms carbon dioxide, that creates air pockets in the dough. Upon resting the yeast expands the dough.
  • If enough gluten is not developed, you will have a flat and heavy bread despite adding yeast.
  • Oil a large deep bowl. Place the dough and cover the bowl with a towel or plastic wrap.
  • Let it ferment (proofing) for 1 1/2 hours in a draft free place. I use my laundry room which is warm with less traffic. You can even keep it near the oven for a warm atmosphere. Take care not to disturb the dough while proofing.
  • After 1 1/2 hrs the dough should have doubled in volume (height).
  • Punch down the dough on a floured surface and knead for about 3 minutes.
  • Shape the dough into a boule. Give a little surface tension to get a basketball shaped loaf. There are no absolute rules to shape the loaf. It’s upto one’s choice.
  • Place the boule on a oiled baking sheet and cover it with dish towel. Let it rest for another 45 minutes to an hour till it doubles in volume. After the rise, make a few slashes on top of the dough.
  • Preheat the oven to 400 degree F. You may want to give an eggwash to get a shiny and brown crust on top. It’s optional * Eggwash – Beat an egg with 1 teaspoon of water and brush over the top of the bread.
  • Place the baking sheet in the middle rack of the oven and bake the boule for about 40-45 minutes. Cool completely on a wire rack.
  • The bread should sound hollow on tapping the bottom. It’s ready to be served.

Unlike the mass produced breads, this one has a short shelf life. Use it the same day or the next day. If you have few leftover slices, cube it and use as croutons in salads. This rugby loaf has brown crust, tight crumbs with irregular hole structure. We had it for dinner with olive tapenade and creamy cauliflower soup. It was deliciously rewarding on a cold winter night.


4 thoughts on “Artisan Style Pesto Bread

  1. Hi Cheryl…I am a home baker from Pune(Maharashtra, India) and would love to try to make Garlic bread and burger buns. I have a cooking range with a built in oven. I recently tried baking a french loaf…..the taste was good but it did not get the crusty look on the top. Does one get that look only if you use egg wash? Will rubbing butter/oil bring the same look? I dont mind the egg wash but a vegetarian would have an objection….please help. Thanks Kavitha Andrade

    1. Hi Kavitha,

      For Baguettes just before putting the shaped bread into the oven, use a pastry brush to paint cold water on top of the dough.
      Cold water brushed or sprayed on the bread dough will yield a crisp, chewy crust. Hope this helps.


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