Spinach, Feta, and Basil Pesto Pull-apart Bread


 
Spinach, Feta and Basil pesto Pull-apart bread. This pull apart loaf is super easy to put together, while being very impressive at the same time! A simple dough is filled with a spinach, feta and basil pesto filling, then cut into rectangles and layered into a loaf tin for the perfect pull apart bread. #pullapartbread #basilpestobread #spinachloaf
Spinach, Feta and Basil pesto Pull-apart bread. This pull apart loaf is super easy to put together, while being very impressive at the same time! A simple dough is filled with a spinach, feta and basil pesto filling, then cut into rectangles and layered into a loaf tin for the perfect pull apart bread. #pullapartbread #basilpestobread #spinachloaf
Spinach, Feta and Basil pesto Pull-apart bread. This pull apart loaf is super easy to put together, while being very impressive at the same time! A simple dough is filled with a spinach, feta and basil pesto filling, then cut into rectangles and layered into a loaf tin for the perfect pull apart bread. #pullapartbread #basilpestobread #spinachloaf
Spinach, Feta and Basil pesto Pull-apart bread. This pull apart loaf is super easy to put together, while being very impressive at the same time! A simple dough is filled with a spinach, feta and basil pesto filling, then cut into rectangles and layered into a loaf tin for the perfect pull apart bread. #pullapartbread #basilpestobread #spinachloaf
Spinach, Feta and Basil pesto Pull-apart bread. This pull apart loaf is super easy to put together, while being very impressive at the same time! A simple dough is filled with a spinach, feta and basil pesto filling, then cut into rectangles and layered into a loaf tin for the perfect pull apart bread. #pullapartbread #basilpestobread #spinachloaf
Spinach, Feta and Basil pesto Pull-apart bread. This pull apart loaf is super easy to put together, while being very impressive at the same time! A simple dough is filled with a spinach, feta and basil pesto filling, then cut into rectangles and layered into a loaf tin for the perfect pull apart bread. #pullapartbread #basilpestobread #spinachloaf
Spinach, Feta and Basil pesto Pull-apart bread. This pull apart loaf is super easy to put together, while being very impressive at the same time! A simple dough is filled with a spinach, feta and basil pesto filling, then cut into rectangles and layered into a loaf tin for the perfect pull apart bread. #pullapartbread #basilpestobread #spinachloaf

I have a couple of weird things that always tug at my heart strings - one is people eating alone in restaurants. As a kid I always got really worried that they were lonely and that they had nobody to talk to - it’s still a running joke in my family now. As I’ve gotten older I have realised that eating alone is actually something that is great for everyone to do now and again - and that going to a coffee shop alone with a book is something that should happen often. Anyway, where this is taking me is that last weekend I went to Portland, Maine (alone! and it was amazing!), for the Harvest on the Harbor festival and to hang out with Filippo Berio. Portland is crazy cute - a little wee town on the coast about an hour’s flight from NYC. They have some super cute coffee shops and restaurants, and I had the best time pottering around by myself - I can’t wait to go back and spend more time there in the future.

It is always super inspiring to see the Filippo Berio booths at their events, and this Spinach, Feta, and Basil Pesto Pull-apart bread was the product of the most recent visit. Filippo Berio makes some of the best jarred pesto I have ever tasted, and the pesto flavour complimented the feta and spinach in the filling perfectly. I actually made this pull-apart bread for the first time a couple of weeks ago, and have been tweaking the rolling and filling directions to make it as easy as possible. Lots of pull-apart breads will have you roll out the bread and cut circles, which you then fold into half-moons and stack into the loaf pan, but I didn’t want to have the leftover waste, so opted for rolling out the dough, spreading the filling, and then cutting into rectangles which are folded and stacked in. This process is super easy, and results in a fancy looking loaf that is fun to eat - you literally pull it apart and eat it layer by layer.

A few wee tips:

  • I used cooked spinach in this recipe - I just placed the spinach in a microwave safe bowl with a plate on top, then microwaved until it was wilted and reduced down. I then roughly chopped it, and set it over a sieve to drain out until I was ready to use it. Spinach contains loads of moisture, so you want to get most of this out before you use it so it doesn’t make your bread soggy.

  • The first rise for the bread can easily be done overnight.

  • I blended the filling using a stick blender - if you don’t want to do this step you can skip it, or you can use a food processor to do this too. It really helped to break down the spinach and make the filling easy to spread.

  • You may have a wee bit of filling left over depending on how thick you spread it - I stirred it into a pasta sauce and it was perfect!

  • I used a standard 1 pound loaf tin for this recipe - don’t worry if the pieces of dough look like they aren’t filling it up enough, as they rise they will take up the rest of the space.

  • This is best eaten the day it is made, but if you have leftovers, pop them in the microwave just for 30 seconds or so to refresh before eating.

 

 

Spinach, Feta, and Basil Pesto Pull-apart Bread

- Makes one loaf -

Bread Dough
180g whole milk, lukewarm
1 Tbsp Sugar
2 1/4 tsp active dry yeast
400g all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp fresh cracked black pepper
1 tsp salt
60g (4 tbsp) unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
1 egg, at room temperature

Filling
200g baby spinach leaves, washed, then wilted down, roughly chopped and drained (see notes)
130g feta cheese
2 Tbsp freshly grated parmesan cheese
Zest of 1 lemon
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes (optional)
1/4 cup Filippo Berio Original Basil Pesto
Salt and Pepper to taste

Egg wash - 1 egg whisked with 1 Tbsp water
Pretzel salt to finish (optional)

 

- PROCESS -

BREAD DOUGH

Place the lukewarm milk, 1 Tbsp of the sugar, and the yeast in a medium sized bowl, and stir to combine. Leave for 10-15 minutes, or until foamy.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook attachment, place the flour, pepper, and salt, and mix briefly to combine. 

Add the milk mixture, butter, and the egg to the dry ingredients, and mix on low for 2-3 minutes to bring the dough together. Increase the speed of the mixer to medium, and mix for a further 10-15 minutes, until the dough is soft, smooth, and elastic.

Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and place in a warm place until doubled in size, 45 minutes to an hour. 

 

FILLING AND ASSEMBLY

Place all of the filling ingredients in a medium bowl, and, using a stick blender, blend until smooth and homogenous. Alternatively you can do this in a food processor.

Heavily grease a loaf pan using butter. Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured surface, and roll into a 12”X15” rectangle. Spread with a layer of the filling using an offset spatula to get it right to the edges. You may have a little left over. You are going to cut the dough into 9 rectangles, each 4”x5” in size, so, using a ruler and a pizza cutter or sharp knife, measure and cut the 12” side into 3 strips each 4” wide, then measure the 15” side and, making 3 cuts, cut the 3 strips into 9 rectangles, each 4x5”.

Starting with a short edge, fold each rectangle in half, and then line them up into your loaf tin, with the filling edge up and the folded edge down. Pack them loosely - do not worry too much about arranging them perfectly - as you can see from the photos, once it rises it sorts itself out!

Loosely cover the loaf tin with plastic wrap, and place in a warm spot to rise, 45 minutes to an hour, until the dough is puffy, and when pressed lightly with a finger, springs back slightly. While the dough is rising, preheat the oven to 375˚f / 190˚c.

Brush the loaf with egg wash, taking care not to drag the filling onto the dough, and sprinkle with pretzel salt if desired.

Bake for 50-55 minutes, or until the dough is golden brown, and the internal temperature registers at 200˚f / 95˚c. Cool in the pan slightly, then remove carefully (you may need to run a knife around the edge), and cool on a wire rack. Best served warm on the same day it is baked.

Spinach, Feta and Basil pesto Pull-apart bread. This pull apart loaf is super easy to put together, while being very impressive at the same time! A simple dough is filled with a spinach, feta and basil pesto filling, then cut into rectangles and layered into a loaf tin for the perfect pull apart bread. #pullapartbread #basilpestobread #spinachloaf
Spinach, Feta and Basil pesto Pull-apart bread. This pull apart loaf is super easy to put together, while being very impressive at the same time! A simple dough is filled with a spinach, feta and basil pesto filling, then cut into rectangles and layered into a loaf tin for the perfect pull apart bread. #pullapartbread #basilpestobread #spinachloaf
Spinach, Feta and Basil pesto Pull-apart bread. This pull apart loaf is super easy to put together, while being very impressive at the same time! A simple dough is filled with a spinach, feta and basil pesto filling, then cut into rectangles and layered into a loaf tin for the perfect pull apart bread. #pullapartbread #basilpestobread #spinachloaf
Spinach, Feta and Basil pesto Pull-apart bread. This pull apart loaf is super easy to put together, while being very impressive at the same time! A simple dough is filled with a spinach, feta and basil pesto filling, then cut into rectangles and layered into a loaf tin for the perfect pull apart bread. #pullapartbread #basilpestobread #spinachloaf

Thank you so much to Filippo Berio for sponsoring this post and for having me in Portland! All opinions are my own.

Roasted Garlic, Tomato and Ricotta Pesto Brioche Knot


 
Fluffy Brioche filled with Roasted Garlic, Tomato and Ricotta Pesto. Rolled up and twisted into a knot, and baked to golden, puffy perfection. Perfect on it's own or as an addition to a lunch or alongside a bowl of soup. #brioche #briocheknot #pestobrioche
Fluffy Brioche filled with Roasted Garlic, Tomato and Ricotta Pesto. Rolled up and twisted into a knot, and baked to golden, puffy perfection. Perfect on it's own or as an addition to a lunch or alongside a bowl of soup. #brioche #briocheknot #pestobrioche
Fluffy Brioche knots filled with Roasted Garlic, Tomato and Ricotta Pesto. Rolled up and twisted into knots, and baked to golden, puffy perfection. Perfect on their own or as an addition to a lunch or alongside a bowl of soup. #brioche #briocheknot #pestobrioche
Fluffy Brioche filled with Roasted Garlic, Tomato and Ricotta Pesto. Rolled up and twisted into a knot, and baked to golden, puffy perfection. Perfect on it's own or as an addition to a lunch or alongside a bowl of soup. #brioche #briocheknot #pestobrioche
Fluffy Brioche knots filled with Roasted Garlic, Tomato and Ricotta Pesto. Rolled up and twisted into knots, and baked to golden, puffy perfection. Perfect on their own or as an addition to a lunch or alongside a bowl of soup. #brioche #briocheknot #pestobrioche
Fluffy Brioche filled with Roasted Garlic, Tomato and Ricotta Pesto. Rolled up and twisted into a knot, and baked to golden, puffy perfection. Perfect on it's own or as an addition to a lunch or alongside a bowl of soup. #brioche #briocheknot #pestobrioche
Fluffy Brioche filled with Roasted Garlic, Tomato and Ricotta Pesto. Rolled up and twisted into a knot, and baked to golden, puffy perfection. Perfect on it's own or as an addition to a lunch or alongside a bowl of soup. #brioche #briocheknot #pestobrioche
Fluffy Brioche knots filled with Roasted Garlic, Tomato and Ricotta Pesto. Rolled up and twisted into knots, and baked to golden, puffy perfection. Perfect on their own or as an addition to a lunch or alongside a bowl of soup. #brioche #briocheknot #pestobrioche

I've always had a thing with bread. Mum and Dad have a bread maker, and for as long as I remember, have been making this epic focaccia that gets served alongside almost every meal when we have visitors around. I went through a sourdough phase for a while (which I can't wait to get back into once our oven is fixed!), and a year or so ago I discovered the magic of babka - a fluffy brioche dough, filled with whatever magic you fancy, and twirled up into swirly shapes before being baked off. I am always amazed at how pretty the sliced dough is, and I love how versatile it can be. Can't stop, won't stop babkaing. I went down the savoury road this time, and made this roasted garlic, tomato and ricotta pesto brioche knot, and some little baby ones to go alongside it, just in case mini bread is your kind of thing. 

This is the first of a few recipe posts in partnership with Filippo Berio. I have been using their olive oil for years, so I was super excited when they suggested making some fun things together using their pesto range as part of their Pestonality Tour! I am going to be attending the Rosé and Bubbly Festival (yes that is a thing!) this Saturday to take part in the tour, and can't wait to give you a wee behind the scenes on Instagram stories! 

Filippo Berio has an amazing range of pesto, including this tomato and ricotta version, which is quite possibly my new favourite thing. It is vibrant and flavourful, with a lovely cheesy flavour, and it would taste great with a whole load of things - I can't wait to stir it into pasta sauce, but it would also be perfect as an addition to a cheese board. This time, I mixed up with a little roasted garlic and extra ricotta for stability, before spreading all over my favourite Brioche dough, rolling it up tightly, then cutting in half and twisting into a knot! I was a little nervous at first and made Rich roll up a towel to practice with, then realised it's really just as simple as crossing one end over the other, and tucking the ends in nicely. Easy easy! I also made it into some wee knots - same recipe and process, just in mini. I've included both versions in the instructions. The bread is fluffy and the filling is super yum - this would be perfect for a lunch, or alongside a meal. We had ours with some homemade tomato soup, and it was crazy delicious. I hope you give this recipe a try! I can't wait to share the rest of the Filippo Berio Range with you! 

A few wee tips:

  • This is easier to braid than you think! All you do is cross one end over the other, and then tuck the ends under. You look super fancy, but it's super easy.

  • I have included an hour rest in the freezer with this. This makes the dough firm and much easier to roll out thin. If you don't want to do this step, you can make the dough the night before, and give it its first rise overnight in the fridge. Then the next day all you need to do is roll it out, fill it, then roll it up and shape, before giving it its second proof before baking.

  • Depending on the weather the dough may need a teeny bit more liquid - add this a teaspoon at a time in the first kneading stage if it is having a hard time forming a soft dough.

  • This recipe includes roasted garlic, which is super delicious - I love how mellow it is. This needs some time to cool before going into the filling so either prep it ahead or pop it in when you start the dough - you can make a whole bunch all at once and use them for all sorts of things! If you don't want to roast the garlic you can leave it out.

  • I finished this off with pretzel salt because I love it, but a flaky sea salt will work perfectly.

 

 

Roasted Garlic, Tomato and Ricotta Pesto Brioche Knot

- Makes One large Knot, or Eight Small Knots -

Bread Dough
1 envelope (2 1/4 tsp) active dry yeast
200g (200ml) whole milk, lukewarm
2 Tbsp sugar
545g (3 2/3 cups) all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt
2 Tbsp Fresh Basil, finely chopped
2 eggs, at room temperature
90g (6 tbsp) unsalted butter, at room temperature

Filling
1 head of garlic
130g Filippo Berio Tomato and Ricotta Pesto
2 Tbsp Ricotta

Egg wash - 1 egg beaten with 1 Tbsp water
Flaky Sea salt or Pretzel Salt, to finish

- PROCESS -

BREAD DOUGH

In a small bowl, combine the yeast, milk and 1 Tbsp of the sugar. Mix well, and leave to sit for 10-15 minutes, or until foamy.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook, combine the flour, salt, remaining 1 Tbsp sugar, and basil. Mix briefly to combine. Add the eggs and foamy yeast mixture to the bowl. Mix on low for 2-3 minutes, until the dough is starting to come together. It may look slightly dry but do not worry - it will mix together nicely in the next steps. If it is not coming together, add extra milk a teaspoon at a time. Increase the mixer speed to medium, and mix for another 10 minutes, until the dough is soft and smooth. 

Reduce the mixer speed to low, and add the butter a little at a time, waiting until it is fully incorporated into the dough before adding the next piece. This process should take 3-4 minutes. Once the butter is fully incorporated, increase the mixer speed to medium, and mix for a further 5 minutes, until the dough is very soft and smooth. 

Shape the dough into a ball, transfer to an oiled bowl, and cover tightly with plastic wrap. Place in a warm spot until doubled in size, approximately 1 - 1 1/2 hours. 

Once the dough has risen, punch down slightly and shape into a rectangle. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap, and place on a baking sheet. Place in the freezer for one hour to firm up before rolling. If you have made your dough ahead of time and risen it overnight in the fridge, you can skip this step.

FILLING AND ASSEMBLY.

To make the roasted garlic, preheat the oven to 425˚f / 220˚c. Using a sharp knife, cut off the top of the head of garlic to expose the cloves. Drizzle with olive oil and wrap in tin foil. Roast for 45 minutes to an hour, until the cloves are soft and beginning to caramelise. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely. Squeeze the cloves into a small bowl and mash with a fork. Add the pesto and the ricotta, and mix well to combine. Set aside. 

Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured surface. 

To make one large knot:

Line a 9" cake tin, springform pan or skillet with parchment paper. 

Roll the dough out into a 16" x 24" (40 x 60cm) rectangle. Using an offset spatula, spread the filling mixture over the surface of the dough. Starting with a long side, roll up the dough into a tight sausage. Trim the ends slightly to neaten if needed. Using a sharp knife, cut the sausage of dough in half lengthwise, leaving a small section approximately 1 1/2 inches long intact at one end. Turn the halves carefully so the filling is exposed. Cross the dough halves over each other, then repeat the process until you have a long, twisted piece of dough. 

Cross one end of the twist over the other, and tuck the ends under, forming a knot. Gently shape into a round if needed (I found it easiest to practice with a rolled up tea towel at first). Transfer to your prepared baking sheet. Cover lightly with plastic wrap, and leave in a warm place to rise for 30-40 minutes. While the bread is rising, preheat the oven to 350˚f / 180˚c. 

Brush the dough with egg wash, and sprinkle with pretzel salt or flaky sea salt. Bake for 35-45 minutes, until golden brown and baked throughout. Tent with foil in the last 10 minutes if necessary. Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly. Serve warm or at room temperature. 

To make mini knots:

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Divide the dough into four equal pieces. Working with one piece at a time, roll into an 8" x 20" (20 x 50cm) rectangle. Spread with a quarter of the filling, and roll up from the long side into a tight sausage. Cut the sausage into two equal length pieces. 

Working with one piece of the sausage at a time, cut lengthways down it using a sharp knife, leaving 1/2" intact at one end. Cross the pieces over each other to make a twist, then brush the ends lightly with water and press together to make a circle / wreath shape. Repeat with the second sausage of dough. Place on the prepared baking sheet. 

Repeat with the remaining pieces of dough until you have 8 small knots. Space evenly on the baking sheet, lightly cover in plastic wrap and allow to rise for 30-40 minutes or until risen and puffy. While the bread is rising, preheat the oven to 350˚f / 180˚c. 

Brush the dough with egg wash, and sprinkle with pretzel salt or flaky sea salt. Bake for 25-35 minutes, until golden brown and baked throughout. Tent with foil in the last 10 minutes if necessary. Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly. Serve warm or at room temperature. 

 

Fluffy Brioche filled with Roasted Garlic, Tomato and Ricotta Pesto. Rolled up and twisted into a knot, and baked to golden, puffy perfection. Perfect on it's own or as an addition to a lunch or alongside a bowl of soup. #brioche #briocheknot #pestobrioche

Thank you so much to Filippo Berio for sponsoring this post! All opinions are my own.