Pesto Christmas Bread
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  1. 1 1/4 cups of warm almond milk
  2. 7g (2tsp) fast-action yeast
  3. 1 teaspoon honey or sugar
  4. 1 1/2 c wheat flour
  5. 1 1/2 c spelled flour
  6. 1 teaspoon salt
  7. 1 tablespoon olive oil
  8. a few tablespoons of pesto
  1. Place the flour in a large bowl, add the yeast to one side and the salt and sugar to the other (if salt comes into direct contact with the yeast it can kill it). Pour in the olive oil and two thirds of the milk, mix together to make a shaggy dough. Add more milk gradually until it all comes together into a slightly sticky, but not wet, dough. You may not need to add all of the milk or you may need a little more.
  2. Turn out onto an un-floured surface and knead for 5-10 minutes until smooth and elastic. You can spread a little olive oil on the surface if you find the dough is sticking too much but try to avoid the temptation to add extra flour, the dough does become less sticky as you knead.
  3. Place the ball of dough into a lightly oiled bowl and cover, leave to rise until doubled in size, at least 1 hour. Once the dough is risen, knock it back then roll it out on a lightly floured surface into a rectangle approx. 30x45cm. Spread the pesto evenly all over the dough.
  4. Starting at the long edge closest to you, roll the dough up tightly but gently, like a swiss roll, into a log.
  5. Line a baking sheet with baking parchment or sprinkle it with semolina, transfer the roll of dough to the baking sheet and, using a sharp knife or bench scraper, cut the roll in half lengthwise. Turn the two halves so that the cut side is facing up then lay one over the other so that they make an X shape, twist them together by laying one side over the other, keeping the cut side up, until all of the dough is twisted and you are left with a braid. Loop the braid round into a wreath shape and pinch the ends together.
  6. Loosely cover and leave to rise for about 45 minutes until puffy and increased in size and the dough springs back if you gently press it with a finger. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 220°C/425°F/gas mark 7. You may find that while the dough is rising you get lots of oil from the pesto puddling on the baking sheet, if this happens, gently blot it up with some kitchen roll.
  7. When the dough has proved, place in the centre of the oven and bake for 25-30 minutes until golden brown and baked through. If it starts to colour too quickly, cover loosely with some tin foil. Once baked transfer to a wire rack to cool.
Petra Kavšek The Foodie