Buttery sourdough pesto rolls

Sourdough pesto rolls

I know that I have already written a recipe for sourdough bread for beginners. But perhaps this recipe suits even better.
You only need a minimum of experience and equipment to succeed.
This recipe requires a big kitchen bowl, kitchen scale, cling film (or a food-safe plastic container with a lid), a sharp knife, and a working surface. It helps if you have a rolling pin and some parchment paper, but it’s not necessary.
The ingredients required are wheat flour, butter, milk, sugar, sea-salt, pesto, and a mature sourdough starter.

The mature starter is probably the biggest challenge in this recipe. But if you haven’t cracked that code yet you can always buy a starter. But I urge you to try to make your own. It’s more satisfying, and it’s not that hard. Besides, buying a starter feels a bit like cheating, don’t you think?

Sourdough starter

I found a half-filled jar of pesto in my fridge that had to be used. I bought it to save time on another occasion. It’s not anything I do very often. Homemade pesto tastes better, but some brands are not that bad (did I hear anybody saying anything about cheating). So you will not find any recipe for pesto in this post, but that shouldn’t be any problem. Just Google “Pesto” and you will have more recipes than you will ever have a chance to try. If you want to be adventurous, you can always try my kale and Rucola pesto. Or you can be as lazy as I was and buy your pesto.

Kale and Rucola pesto
Kale Pesto

 

There’s a lot of milk and butter in this recipe, so you will not get that crunchy crust that is typical of sourdough bread. Both the crumb and the crust will be quite soft. But with much more taste. That’s the reason why I try to exchange yeast for sourdough starter most of the times. It takes longer, but it will be tastier. Adding the pesto and you will have an unbeatable combination. They will taste like an Italian cinnamon roll, but without cinnamon, if you know what I mean.

Kneading all that butter into the dough by hand take some time. But it can be done. I did it and so can you. So if you don’t have a dough mixer, don’t let that stop you. Besides, there is no better way to get to know your dough. You will experience how your dough transforms from a sticky mass to be more and more manageable during the process. So get your hands down to the bowl and start working.

Dough

Forming the loaf when you are baking sourdough bread is important. I don’t claim it’s rocket science to form a loaf, but it still requires some training. Scoring the loaf is even trickier. With these sourdough pesto rolls, you don’t have to bother about that. You only have to roll out the dough into a square. If you don’t have a rolling pin, you can just flatten it with your hands. Spread some pesto on top of the dough and roll it tightly.
Scoring the dough is even easier because it’s not necessary. You only have to cut the rolled dough into pieces and place them on an oven plate with parchment paper.

Rolled dough

 

Dough with pesto

 

rolling dough

 

rolls

 

roll close up

That’s it.

Everybody can do that. So start softening the butter and measuring up the flour, and bake some irresistible sourdough pesto rolls. Eat them with your favorite soup together with some friends. But beware. These rolls will disappear quickly.

Sourdough pesto rolls

 

Buttery sourdough pesto rolls

Print Recipe
Sourdough pesto rolls
Irresistible, soft dinner rolls with lots of flavors from butter, pesto, and sourdough. Serve these sourdough pesto rolls warm with your favorite soup.
Sourdough pesto rolls
Servings
big rolls
Ingredients
Servings
big rolls
Ingredients
Sourdough pesto rolls
Instructions
  1. Mix all ingredients except salt in a large kitchen bowl. Use your hands so that you can feel when all the pieces of butter have been incorporated into the dough. Place the dough somewhere warm and let it rest for one hour.
  2. Add salt and stretch and fold the dough according to the video in the recipe notes. Perform 3 more stretch and folds during the bulk fermentation, spaced by 30 minutes.
  3. You can, of course, use a dough mixer if you have one. Add all ingredients, except salt and run until the dough passes the windowpane test. Add the salt the last minutes.
  4. The time required for the bulk fermentation can vary a lot. Mine took 3 hours. Don't focus on time, but observe how the dough looks instead. It should have risen 40-50 % and show some bubbles on the top. The best temperature for bulk fermentation is about 77ºF/25ºC. If you have trouble finding a sufficiently warm place, you can place the dough into the oven with just the lamp lit.
  5. Lightly flour your working surface and dump out the dough. Flatten the dough into a rectangular shape, about 3 mm (1/10 inch) thick. Use a rolling pin. Spread pesto on top of the dough and roll the dough from one side to the other. Place the seam downwards.
  6. Cut the roll into pieces, about 2,5 cm / 1 inch thick and place them on a baking sheet with parchment paper. Cover with clingfilm and let the rolls rise for about 60-90 minutes.
  7. Pre-heat the oven to 445ºF / 230ºC. Bake the rolls about 15 minutes. They should have a nice golden brown color when ready. Let the rolls cool on a wire rack.
Recipe Notes

For those who prefer to use a stretch and fold technique instead of running the dough into a dough mixer, you may find this video helpful. You can also look at one of my previous recipes.

 

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Sourdough baguettes

Sourdough Baguettes

Look at the picture above. What is wrong with the three sourdough baguettes you see? Not much, some of you will probably think. And I agree. There is nothing wrong with them. They have a nice golden brown crunchy crust, and they tasted just great.


But if you are an experienced baker you may point out that there is not much oven spring to theses baguettes. And that is the problem.

Let’ face it. Oven spring adds an aesthetic touch that is hard to ignore. Compare my baguettes with these ones.

Baguettespixabay

We both know which ones you had chosen, right?
But what happened to my baguettes? I think they fell victim of the gruesome sickness called over-proofing, caused by a sloppy baker (aka me).
But I was not so sloppy this time. I made the finger poke test several times. Still, I did not get the result I wanted. Most of you probably know what the finger poke test is, but for those who don’t, here’s a brief description.
You make a little imprint on the top of the loaf by pressing your finger on it.

If the imprint springs back and fills up quickly, the loaf is probably under-proofed.
If the imprint springs back partly, the loaf is ready to be baked.
But If the imprint doesn’t recover at all, you probably have an over-proofed loaf.

The imprint on my sourdough baguettes bounced back halfways, indicating that the timing for putting them into the oven was perfect. I won’t claim that the test failed me completely. There was some oven spring. But not enough.

This problem has occurred before, especially when I’m trying to bake sourdough baguettes. I realized that I had got a mission. The mission to crack the code about baking baguettes (with lots of oven spring).

I knew I couldn’t blame my starter this time. My starter can be an obnoxious creature that doesn’t want to cooperate far too often. But this time it had been extremely bubbly and lively. It was also something I noticed during the bulk fermentation as the dough was rising very quickly. So I could only assume that I had over-proofed a little during the final rise.
But believing is not enough. I wanted to know.

Starter

I remembered that I used to use the double size test before I learned about the finger poke test. You try to measure the size of the loaf with your eyes. When it has doubled in size, it’s time to put it in the oven. This method is very unreliable as it’s very hard to tell when a loaf has doubled in size if you let it ferment in a banneton. It’s easier if you have it in a bread pan, but that’s not an option if you want to bake baguettes.

But there is another way. You can place a small piece of dough in a straight glass. If you mark the initial level of the dough with a rubber band, it’s easy to measure when it has doubled in size. This test is far more reliable because the dough can only expand in one direction and that is upwards.

I decided to use both tests for my next trial.

SECOND BAKING SESSION

My second attempt didn’t start that well. From being very lively and active, my starter returned to a grumpy, sleepy behavior. Everything looked good the day before when I mixed the poolish. But I also used some amount of the starter to a batch of sourdough breakfast rolls that we were going to eat for breakfast the next morning. Obviously, my starter thought that was enough. It was not in a mood for any more baking adventures, and all I could see was some tiny bubbles on the surface. But after feeding it and placing it warm, it was in a better mood again after an hour or two.

I followed the same procedure as last time except that I placed a small piece of dough in a high straight glass for both the bulk fermentation and the final rise. I marked the starting level with a rubber band and placed it next to the main dough.

The poolish had already developed a lot of taste and sourness, so I didn’t want long fermentation times. This is, of course, a matter of taste. Personally, I don’t want my sourdough baguettes to be too sour. So I let the dough and formed loaf ferment in a warm environment, about 77ºF /25ºC. Total fermentation time was 4.5 hour. 3 hours for the bulk fermentation and 1.5 hours for the final rise. After that, both the finger poke test and the dough-in-glass-test indicated that it was time to place the baguette loaves in the oven. Besides, I want to point out that I agree with all that thinks that dough-in-glass-test is a ridiculous word. Feel free to come up with a better suggestion.

Poolish

Bulk fermentation

 

I studied the baguettes through the window in the oven door. But after a few minutes, I realized that I wouldn’t get that profound, nice oven spring I sought for this time either. I have to admit that I was disappointed. Everything looked so good when I shuffled the loaves into the oven. But I have to realize that I haven’t cracked the Baguette code yet. When it comes to oven spring, that will say. Because what these Baguettes lacked in oven spring they made up for in taste. They turned out to be exactly how I want my sourdough baguettes. A soft an airy crumb with lots of taste and a hint of sourness. The crust was a dream of cracker-like crunchiness. So I suppose I should be satisfied after all.

 

If I could only get a little better oven spring.

Next time, maybe.

Sourdough Baguettes

Print Recipe
Sourdough baguettes
Sourdough baguettes with a soft an airy crumb and cracker-like crunchy crust. A lot of taste with a hint of sourness makes these baguettes on of my most baked bread.
Servings
Ingredients
Poolish
Baguette
Servings
Ingredients
Poolish
Baguette
Instructions
Poolish
  1. Mix all ingredients thoroughly. Make sure that all flour is hydrated. Cover the dough with cling film and let it ferment for 10-12 hours.
Baguette
  1. Mix all ingredients including the poolish, but except the salt in a dough mixer until the dough is elastic. Use windowpane test. Add the salt the last minutes.
  2. If you prefer to knead by hand you can use a stretch and fold technique. You will find a link to a description of the technique in the recipe notes. There's also a link to a video. Start by letting the mixed dough autolyze for an hour, and then run a stretch and fold session every half hour, 3-4 times in total. Add the salt during the first stretch and fold session.
  3. Let the dough ferment until doubled in size. Use the dough-in-the-glass test described above.
  4. Lightly flour your work surface and dump out the dough. Divide it into three pieces with your bench knife. Flatten the dough gently with your hands. Fold one side against the other and repeat with the other. Form the dough to a baguette by rolling it gently against the work surface. There's a link to an excellent video showing how to form a baguette in the recipe notes.
  5. Preheat your oven to 480ºF / 250ºC with two oven plates. One to bake the bread on and one just below.
  6. Let the baguette loaves rise until doubled in size according to the dough-in-glass-test, in combination with the finger poke test.
  7. Score each loaf 3 or 4 times and place them in the oven. Pour some water on the plate below and bake each loaf in 15-25 minutes, or until the loaves has got a nice, golden brown color.
  8. Let the baguettes cool on wire racks.
Recipe Notes

For those who prefer to use a stretch and fold technique instead of running the dough into a dough mixer, you may find this video helpful. You can also look at one of my previous recipes.

This video shows how to form a baguette loaf. It also shows how to use a kitchen towel for the final rise if you don't have a baguette pan.

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