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Beauty surrounded the Daring Bakers this month as our host, Sawsan, of chef in disguise, challenged us to make beautiful, filled breads. Who knew breads could look as great as they taste?

Bread baking has fascinated me since I first began baking many years ago. I may have only been 12 or 13 years old when I first tackled baking with yeast. My love for breads – baking and eating them – has never waned. This month with Daring Bakers and the help of Sawsan of Chef in Disguise, I discovered something new. These breads are layered with flavouring, savoury or sweet, then cut, twisted and shaped to form beautiful works of art. Have a look here for some amazing inspiration.
Thank you Sawsan for this wonderful challenge. You have inspired me to take baking bread to a whole new level!

These breads are fun and rewarding to make so much so that I made several different versions this month. First a pesto bread which my family enjoy for lunch with some salami, olives, cheese and marinated artichokes.

Then I made a Nutella filled bread, twice actually. This is delicous and loved by all.

Finally a combination of sumac, sesame seeds and dried thyme mix with a little olive oil filled my last bread. Lovely with roast chicken!

Pesto Bread


◦1 cup warm water
◦2 tsp yeast
◦2 1/2 cups flour, plus more for dusting work surface
◦1 Tbsp olive oil
◦1 tsp salt
◦1/2 cup or more pesto, purchased or homemade

 Mix the warm water and yeast in your stand mixer bowl. Allow to sit for 5/10 minutes until it froths up.
Add the flour, oil and salt and begin mixing on low. Knead for about 5 minutes until the dough is smooth and elastic. Depending on the weather you may need to add a spoonful of flour if it seems a bit sticky. This can all of course be knead by hand – I simply always use my stand mixer even if I finish off by hand.
Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and allow to sit in a warm place until doubled.
Preheat your oven to 200C.
Divide into four equal portions plus a small ping pong ball size piece of dough. Working with the four larger portions roll out one portion to about 23cm in diameter. Spread with some pesto then repeat with the other 3 portions of dough sandwiching each with pesto. Leave the last round of dough bare of pesto!

Now cut through all the layers dividing the dough into 8 wedges. Make a slit in each wedge.

Take one of the triangles. Feed the tip of the triangle through the slit.

Bring it right through to form a twist. Repeat with the remaining 7 triangles.

Reform the circle onto a baking paper lined baking tray.

Bring the edges of each triangle together and pinch the dough as shown in the photo below. Now take the piece of ping pong ball size dough roll it into a long sausage shape then twirl into a snail shape. Place int he middle as shown. Allow the dough to rest 10/15 minutes.

Bake for 20/30 minutes until brown and cooked through.

I used this dough recipe provided by Sawsan for the Nutella bread

For the dough
1/4 cup (60 ml) warm water
3/4 cup (180 ml) warm milk
1 large egg
1/4 cup (60 ml) (60 gm) (2 oz) butter, softened
1/4 cup (60 ml) (50 gm) (1-3/4 oz) white sugar
1/2 teaspoon (3 gm) salt
3-1/4 cups (780 ml) (450 gm) (16 oz) plain (all-purpose) flour, approximately
2 teaspoons (10 ml) (8 gm) dry yeast
Nutella for between the layers

1. In a bowl whisk the egg with milk, water, sugar, butter and yeast. Set aside
2. In another bowl sift the flour with the salt and the optional cardamom.
3. Add the liquid ingredients to the dry ingredients and knead until you get a smooth dough.
Note: This recipe requires between 3-1/4 and 3-1/2 cups of flour depending on the weather, humidity and the flour brand. Start with 3-1/4 cups and if you feel that the dough is too soft, add the extra 1/4 cup
4. Place the dough in a bowl you have brushed with some oil and cover it with a wet cloth and leave it in a warm place to double
(If you are tight on time you can heat your oven to 390°F/200°C then turn it off and place your dough in a glass bowl and place it in the warm oven with the wet cloth covering the bowl)

Continue as above with layering of dough and Nutella. Cut, twist and shape as desired.
Bake at 200C for 20/30 minutes.

Mantova in the Lombardy region of Italy. Three years ago…
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