Pull-apart bread is meant to be shared amongst friends but when it looks and tastes this good, we kind of just want to keep it all to ourselves! It really doesn’t come better than this recipe for Scallion Pesto Pull-Apart Bread by Two Red Bowls. Want to shop the look? Just click the links in the images – simple!
Scallion Pesto Pull-Apart Bread by Two Red Bowls
“This bread uses tangzhong, a quick roux-like dough starter that helps keep the bread soft for longer once baked. I generally break the dough-making process down over two days to make it easier and less time-consuming – the recipe has instructions for both. The pesto method is based on this wonderful tutorial by Valentina at Hortus Cuisine.”
For the tangzhong:
6 tbsp water
2 tbsp bread flour
For the dough:
½ cup milk
1 ½ tsp yeast
2 ¾ cups (about 350 grams) bread flour
½ tsp salt
2 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp butter, very soft
For the pesto:
1 ½ cups sliced scallions (or greens of your choice — in the summer, I like a mix of basil, arugula, mint, parsley, or cilantro)
¼ cup almonds, toasted (or pine nuts or walnuts)
2 tbsp grated Parmesan
2 cloves garlic
2-3 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil salt and pepper
¼ cup Parmesan
½ to 1 cup mozzarella cheese
1. Make the tangzhong. In a small saucepan, whisk together 6 tbsp water and 2 tbsp bread flour until no lumps remain. Heat the mixture over medium-low heat, whisking constantly. The mixture should thicken quickly to a gel-like consistency. As soon as lines appear in the mixture when stirred, remove from heat and transfer to a small, clean bowl. Let cool to room temperature.
2. Next, heat the milk briefly to just above room temperature, about 110 degrees or lukewarm to the touch. I do this simply by microwaving it for 10 seconds. Sprinkle the yeast over the milk and set aside for 5-10 minutes for the yeast to activate. The milk should foam. (If it doesn’t and your yeast is fresh, it might be because the milk isn’t ultra-pasteurized — discard and start over, but this time, heat the milk to just under boiling, then cool it down to lukewarm and proceed.)
3. In the meantime, sift together the bread flour, salt, and sugar in a large bowl. Once the yeast has foamed, add the tangzhong and the egg, and whisk until well-combined.
4. Make a well in the flour mixture and pour in the wet ingredients. Stir with a wooden spoon until the mixture forms a loose, shaggy dough, then switch to using your hands. Knead for 4-5 minutes, or until the dough forms a semi-smooth ball. The dough should be quite sticky — sprinkle flour over your hands and the dough as needed to keep kneading, but try to avoid overflouring. One tablespoon should be enough.
5. Add the butter to the dough, one tablespoon at a time, kneading after each addition. Add the second tablespoon of butter only after the first has been evenly incorporated. The kneading will be slippery and messy at this point, but just keep kneading and it should eventually form a soft and pliable dough that’s easy to work with. Knead for an additional 4-5 minutes, or until dough becomes smooth and elastic.
6. Place the dough in a large bowl with plenty of room and cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a damp towel. Let proof for 1-2 hours, or until well-doubled. Alternatively, let the dough proof overnight in the refrigerator, covered with plastic wrap. I prefer the latter — it gives extra time for the gluten to develop, and yields a better flavor, in my opinion. Plus, dividing the labor over two days makes the process much more manageable. The dough should be fine for up to 24 hours. Take care not to seal the bowl completely airtight, which can sometimes result in a build-up of gas and an alcohol-like smell. I generally wrap it lightly in plastic wrap and then again with a tea towel.
7. The next day, make the pesto. To make it in a food processor, simply combine all the ingredients except for the olive oil and process until it forms a paste. Add the olive oil little by little until it reaches your desired consistency, and season with salt and pepper. To make it with a mortar and pestle, pound the garlic and salt together first, then add the herbs. (I find the mortar and pestle method much easier with soft herbs than with scallions — I might recommend the food processor or blender option for scallions.) Once a brilliant green paste forms, add the nuts a few at a time. then alternate with the cheese until both are combined. Finally, thin with the olive oil to your desired consistency, and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper as desired.
8. On a well-floured surface, roll the dough out to a rough 10×14-inch rectangle (or larger, which will result in more pieces). Spread the pesto evenly across the surface, then sprinkle with mozzarella and Parmesan. Slice the dough into strips, then stack the strips and cut into squares.
9. Place the pieces vertically into a 9×5 loaf pan. There should be a little bit of extra room, either on the sides or at the top, for the dough to rise. Let the dough rise again, covered with a damp towel, for about 45 minutes to an hour. The dough should nearly double again.
10. About 30 minutes into the rise, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Once the dough has risen again, sprinkle extra cheese over top, then bake, uncovered, about 40 minutes, or until cheese is well-browned on top and bread sounds hollow when tapped. Cool briefly, then remove from tin and serve warm, with extra parsley if desired.
Cynthia & her husband (Bowl #1 & Bowl #2 aka The Two Red Bowls) concoct delicious recipes out of their teeny kitchen in their Brooklyn apartment. Check ’em out on Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook and Twitter.