Pesto and Sundried Tomato Swirl Bread

Bracket already busted?  No worries, this bread will make you forget all about your boneheaded idea of picking Wisconsin to make it to the final four (Michigan is still right on track though).  My fiancée’s parents sent us a bounty of delicious pesto last year which we use frequently.  Despite that, we still have about half of it left.  I had been wanting to make a swirl bread for some time, so this seemed like the perfect combination.  We had a few sundried tomatoes in the fridge which I chopped up and mixed in as well.


It tastes great and smelled incredible coming out of the oven.  I was disappointed to see that there was a large open space at the top that ran the entire length of the loaf.  This can happen with bread for any number of reasons, the three most likely being overproofing, shaping technique, and dough consistency.


After shaping the loaf only rose for about 45 minutes, so overproofing was definitely not the issue.  If the dough is too floured when rolled up, it will have a tough time staying together with the layer of filling in between.  This may have been the cause with this loaf, especially since as you can seen from above there was a generous amount of pesto spread on the dough.  

I had this same thing happen last week with a basic whole wheat sandwich loaf I made, so I’m inclined to think shaping may also have something to do with it.  I think next time I make something like this, or a basic loaf, I’ll pay special attention to creating a tight seam on the rolled dough and patting out a bit more of the built up gas, which should help with this problem.  Similarly, if I were to do a filled loaf again I would probably roll the dough tighter so that I have a larger spiral.

Overall I’m quite happy with the taste and texture of the final product, but I’d like to definitively figure out the culprit behind what’s causing the hole at the top of the loaf.


Pesto and Sundried Tomato Swirl Bread


  • 4 cups AP or bread flour
  • 1 1/2 T sugar
  • 1 t salt
  • 1 1/2 t instant yeast
  • 2 T butter
  • 1 1/4 cup water
  • 2 T pesto
  • 3-4 sundried tomatoes, chopped


In a large bowl or stand mixer, combine flour, sugar, salt, yeast, and butter.  Gradually add water to make the dough.  Mix/knead for 5 minutes using a stand mixer, or 10 minutes by hand.  The dough should be a bit wet but not stick to the sides of the bowl.

Place dough in a lightly greased bowl and cover with plastic wrap or a cloth to let it rise until doubled (about 1.5 hours)

Lightly grease a loaf pan and transfer the risen dough onto a flat work surface, being careful not to degas it too much.  Gently shape the dough into a rectangle about 6″x8″.

Spread the pesto/sundried tomato mix onto the bread, leaving about 1/2 inch border on each side.  Form the loaf by rolling up the length of the dough (working from the short side).  With each full rotation pinch the creases to create a bit of surface tension.  As you roll it will get a bit longer as well, just make sure that when you place it in the pan it touches each edge.

Place in the loaf pan and cover the bread once more, letting it rise until it crests over the pan slightly, about another hour and a half.  While the rise is finishing, preheat the oven to 350°.

Bake for 20 minutes, then rotate the pan 180° to ensure even baking.  Bake for at least another 20 minutes (40 total), and then check periodically.  Mine usually takes 45 minutes for a nice brown on top and the bread to be baked all the way through.  If browning occurs too quickly place a piece of tin foil on the top of the loaf.

Promptly take it out of the loaf pan and place it on a cooling rack for 1 to 2 hours.  Two hours will allow it to cool completely.

Recipe adapted from Light Wheat Bread in Peter Reinhart’s Bread Baker’s Apprentice.

One thought on “Pesto and Sundried Tomato Swirl Bread

  1. Pingback: New Year’s Breadsolution: Your Guide to Making the Best Bread in 2014 | Bakers & Best

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