by Tammy Taylor
Recently we were planning a family gathering. My siblings & I gather often with our families for a little R&R so this is not an unusual occurrence for us. When planning the food for the group each of us brings certain elements of the meals. it was requested that I bring several different items but one such item was to bring bread of some sort (pesto bread was the recommendation). Of course I could just buy the bread but I always prefer for both financial as well as environmental reasons to make these things myself whenever possible. I like the ease & convenience of beer bread plus I’d like to use ingredients that I already have on hand so I’m wondering… why can’t I pull out the last of my homemade basil pesto that I have stored in the freezer, thaw it, add some of my dried tomato leather & swirl it through the batter of plain beer bread to accomplish this feat with less bread-baking time in the kitchen? Hummmm…
Since there are several items I’ll be baking today for our family gathering, I’ll certainly be multi-tasking since each recipe has to be timed perfectly. I’ll be making a couple of different varieties of savory breads that I’ve never made before and also a double-batch of my rich chocolaty homemade brownies plus my favorite no-cook chocolate frosting for the brownies – so I need to time not only the actual mixing up of the recipes but also the timing of which item goes first for me to begin preparing the next to take its place in the oven when it’s done. Plus while it’s all coming together I’ll also need to take photos of the bread prep along the way so I’ll have them to include in this blog post. WHEW! I’m feeling a little bit like a power-baking Wonder Woman right now… Ready?? Set?? GO! LOL
So first I pull my basic quick beer bread recipe & read over it. I decided to make one loaf of Pesto-Flavored Bread & one loaf of Rosemary/Cheddar-Flavored Bread, but for today’s post I’ll focus on the Pesto Bread. So I sat to work figuring out how to wing this recipe. Hey winging a recipe should be my Wonder Woman Super Power, I seem to do it all the time (although not always successfully… LOL) First I pulled out all of the ingredients I’d need for my bread & measured them out. I mixed up the dry ingredients & kept the other pre-measured ingredients handy so I could add & mix quickly.
I decided since the pesto bread would be Italian flavored I’d like to use a softer cheese for it, how about mozzarella? Oh yeah baby, that’s the ticket! Let’s see how this all comes together. The thawed pesto looked a bit wet to me so I strained the excess oil into a coffee mug. Once that excess oil had been strained away it’s time for me to start mixing up my pesto bread. Take a deep breath, here we go!
To the pre-measured & mixed dry ingredients I add the bottle of beer and set to adding my pesto add-ins: I stirred in about 1/3 cup of thawed/drained pesto & 1/2 cup of mozzarella cheese, as well as about 1/3 cup of dried chopped tomato leather that I had dehydrated from my garden last year and a tablespoon of dry Italian seasoning. I mixed it all together and poured it into a 9×5 loaf pan that I’d already oiled using some of that highly-flavored drained pesto oil. When I poured the batter in the pan I also brushed some of that pesto oil onto the top of the batter. Ummmm… smells wonderful!
I slide the pan into my oven that’s been preheated to 350 degrees and bake the bread for about 45 minutes. Then I pull the pan from the oven and pour on top of the bread about 4 Tablespoons of the remaining fragrant pesto oil. It sizzles as it runs toward the edges of the pan and it smells amazing! I return the loaf to the oven for the final 10 minutes baking time.
When the bread is baked I remove the pan from the oven and place it on a baker’s rack for a few minutes to allow it to begin cooling. Since there’s cheese in this bread it tends to cook to the side of the pan so I slide a butter knife between the bread & the pan to loosen it and turn the pan upside down to allow the release of the bread. Then I place the still-hot bread on my baker’s rack & cover it with a towel and allow it to cool completely. When I sliced it up, the smell of pesto was heavenly. The bread was hefty, moist & soft and you could see plenty of tomato in the bread too. And the taste?? DELICIOUS!
Here’s the recipe I used for this quick & easy yet delicious pesto-flavored bread:
Basic Beer Bread
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt,
1/4 cup sugar
12 oz. beer (1 1/2 cup)
(Optional Stir-In Options for Pesto Bread)
1/2 cup mozzarella cheese
1/3 cup basil pesto
1 T dry Italian-flavored herbs
1/3 c dried tomato leather
4 Tablespoons reserved pesto or olive oil
Preheat oven to 375 (350 degrees for glass pan.) Mix dry ingredients together, then slowly add beer & stir to combine. Add the desired stir-in options for Pesto Bread & blend thoroughly. Transfer batter into well-oiled 9×5 glass loaf pan and bake on middle rack for 45 minutes. Remove pan from oven and pour 4 tablespoons of reserved pesto oil (or olive oil) onto the surface of the loaf & return it to the oven for the final 10 minutes baking time. When baking is complete, remove the pan from the oven, carefully remove bread from pan and place on baker’s rack. Cover the hot bread with a clean towel & allow to cool completely.
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