I’m thrilled with my second success of bread in a row, and that too with a new bread recipe instead of my go-to focaccia recipe. And I think I’d like to attribute the success to two things: Peter Reinhart’s Artisan Breads Everyday and instant yeast. You’ve heard me sing praises of this book when I made the chocolate cinnamon babka, so I won’t go down that road. But instant yeast? It’s magical.
So, what are the properties of yeast and which yeast should you use? When compared with fresh cake yeast and active dry yeast, instant yeast wins by far. Here’s how:
- You only need to use a small quantity of instant yeast to get the job done(usually 1/3rd of the commonly used cake yeast).
- Instant yeast has much longer a shelf life, about a year, compared to about two weeks in the refrigerator for fresh yeast. I’ve bought a block of fresh cake yeast several times only to throw away most of it after a few weeks, so the long shelf life really helps. This makes it one of the most important advantages of instant yeast.
- Instant yeast is also very easy to use. You don’t have to wait with baited bread breath for the yeast to dissolve in water and froth up.
- It isn’t as pungent (read: less stinky) as active dry.
- It results in a bread with an amazing texture.
To make the pesto rolls, I first started out with a white bread recipe, using extra virgin olive oil instead of regular. I made the whole recipe and divided it into two batches – one for today’s pesto rolls and the other for another day (the dough can be refrigerated for upto 4 days). And boy, even half the batch made many rolls – 24 to be precise. I made them in 3 pans (a 9 inch square pan, an 8 inch circular pan and a 4 inch springform pan) just to see how they would look in each of them. You can make it in a 9 x 13 inch pan to have it all in one place.
The problem with photographs is that they don’t really bring out the softness within this moist bread. You can rip this dinner roll into two so easily, yet it still retains some stickiness and substance. And the smell. Mmmm, the smell. You can sense the beautifully sweet smell of freshly made bread throughout the house. I would go so far as to say that this is the perfect dinner roll. You must make this bread as soon as can – you’re going to love it!
Pesto Bread Roll Recipe
1 tbsp /9g instant yeast
1 3/4th cup / 425g lukewarm milk (any kind)
6 1/4th cup / 794g unbleached bread flour (I used all-purpose)
2 tsp salt
5 1/2 tbsp sugar
6 tbsp / 85g extra virgin olive oil
1 egg for the dough
1 egg for the eggwash
- To make the dough, dissolve the yeast into the milk and let it rest for 5 minutes.
- In a bowl, add all the other ingredients and mix it up as you pour in the milk. Once the ingredients are evenly distributed, start kneading for 4-5 minutes until the dough is soft and supple.
- If you’re kneading using a KitchenAid, knead by hand after you’ve turned the dough out for 2 minutes. Divide into two, make into balls and place it into two bowls greased with oil and covered with cling film. You can refrigerate one bowl for later use and let the other batch rise at room temperature for about 2 hours or until doubled in volume.
- Now roll out the dough into a 1/4th inch thick sheet and spread generously with pesto, making sure to stay away from the sides.
- Form a roll and cut with a sharp knife or a bench scraper and place the individual rolls into the baking tin. Make sure to leave some space between rolls, because they’re going to spread!
- Cover with a cloth or cling film so the bread doesn’t form a dry skin.
- Let the bread rise again for about an hour.
- A little before baking, brush the top of the bread with eggwash (1 egg + 2 tbsp water or milk) to get a gorgeous golden hue.
- Bake in a preheated oven at 180C/350F for 15-20 minutes.
I was hoping to have these dinner rolls for, well, dinner, along with some nice soup or pasta. But *somebody* polished off the entire 9 inch pan of the bread by mid-day. Lesson learnt: Do not ever keep pesto dinner rolls out in the open for anyone to see, smell, or touch before time; they won’t last.