Russian Braided Bread with Pesto Filling
Russian braided bread is the decorative bread that Mary Berry deserves (RIP) (gone too soon) (but actually watch The Great American Baking Show). This decadent bread is made with a pesto filling and is basically a great excuse to eat a jar of pesto. Did I mention that Russian baking is low key next level? SO MANY LAYERS.
This funky looking bread swirl is actually pretty easy to make. In short, you roll out a thin but large rectangle of dough and spread out lots of pesto. From there, you roll up the tough tightly and then cut it in half lengthwise to expose these gnarly dough layers. You can bake it as is here, or instead braid your two halves to make a neat looking loaf. For this recipe, we twisted our braid into a mega loaf to make pesto bread swirls. You can also top this bad boy with some cheese like parmesan if you want to be next level.
While this version is savory, you can also make a sweet version of this. This cinnamon braid in particular looks pretty $$$.
Russian Pesto Braided Bread Recipe
- 3 1/2 cups all purpose flour
- 2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 cup vegetable oil
- 1 tablespoon white vinegar
- 1/2 cup pesto
- Proof yeast. Heat 1/4 cup of water to 100 – 110 degrees F. Stir in active dry yeast and sugar. Let stand 10 minutes, or until mixture doubles. If your mixture doesn’t double, your yeast may be dead.
- Separately, heat vegetable oil and 1 cup of water to 100-110 degrees F.
- In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix 2 1/2 cups flour, sugar, salt. Then add yeast mixture, vinegar, and water-oil mixture. Mix at 2-3 setting until combined.
- Swap out the paddle attachment for a dough hook and incorporate remaining 1 cup of flour, 1/4 cups at a time or until dough is not sticky.
- Lightly flour a surface and knead the dough for 5 minutes.
- Grease a large bowl. Place dough in bowl and flip to coat the entirety of the dough. In a warm area, cover and let rise for 1-2 hours, or until doubled.
- Grease a 9-inch springform pan and cover bottom with parchment paper. Grease parchment paper.
- Lightly flour a surface and remove the dough from the bowl. Roll the dough out as thin as you can, into a rectangular shape (up to 2 feet wide).
- With a spoon or brush, spread pesto across dough.
- Starting on the widest side of the dough rectangle, carefully roll the dough into a tight snake / log.
- Using a sharp knife or bench scraper, carefully cut the dough in half lengthwise / the long way.
- With the exposed layers facing upwards, continuously cross the halves over to make a tight braid. Once fully braided, tightly pinch the ends of the dough together.
- Starting at one end of the braid, slowly roll the braid into itself to start forming a cinnamon bun-like shape. Tightly pinch end closed.
- Place rolled braid in springform pan. In a warm area, cover and let rise for 1-2 hours, or until doubled.
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
- Place springform pan on a baking sheet. Bake bread for 10 minutes at 400 degrees F. Lower temperature to 350 degrees F and bake for 20 minutes, or until internal temperature is 200 degrees F.
- Remove from oven and springform pan and place pesto braid on cooling rack. Brush with olive oil or parmesan cheese and serve.
Made pesto bread swirls at home? Tag your Russian pesto braided bread photos with #PateSmith or share them in the comments for the chance to be featured onsite!