This recipe for wheat pesto bread is a soft and delicious Italian influenced bread. It’s lightly seasoned with the robust flavors of basil pesto, giving it just the right amount of brightness in every bite.
Like most homemade yeast bread recipes, there aren’t many ingredients. Bread is such a staple that many people scoured the internet for bread recipes at the start of the 2020 quarantine.
I think it must have made people feel better to be able to make something comforting, with their own hands. It’s a beautiful thing.
This wheat pesto bread recipe is the perfect addition to your recipes for something new and different.
To make things easier, I like to use our bread machine, but you can make this by hand as well.
I have a feeling that a lot of you could be owners of a shiny new bread machine, though. Am I right?
If you don’t have a bread machine, have a look at this Cuisinart Bread Machine which we use. We’ve had it for over seven years and it still works great. (This is an affiliate link, by the way. If you click it and buy, I may get a little something something from them at no extra cost to you.)
Yeast. I’ve used regular Active Dry Yeast for this bread recipe. We never buy the quick or “instant” yeast. There’s something very satisfying about letting the yeast grow before starting. It’s also a great way to make sure your yeast is good before you add everything else. If you only have instant yeast, use the same amount but you may need to add a little bit more to the rising time.
Flour. For this recipe, I’m using unbleached bread flour and whole wheat flour in a ratio of 2:1. If you don’t want wheat bread, use all bread flour.
Sugar. The sugar is used to “feed” the yeast to start the “blooming” process. Today was the first time that I heard that proofing your yeast is getting the yeast to bloom. Kinda crazy, but there you go.
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Pesto. You know that I love to make my own pesto. Unfortunately, we don’t have any fresh basil in the Aerogarden ready to be harvested. I think I prefer this particular pesto for bread, though. I’ll write more about it below.
Salt. Himalayan Pink Salt is the preferred salt here at our house. I’m not sure why. Mom also has course red sea salt and black lava salt. I think she just likes the pink salt because it’s pretty. But, that’s just between you and me.
Cooking Spray. You may not need cooking spray at all. It comes in handy if you want to bake in the oven instead of the bread machine. It could also be used if you’re letting your dough rise in a bowl instead of a bread machine.
Proofing your Yeast
I always proof the yeast before using. It’s that one small step you do at the beginning of making bread that can be a make or break your homemade bread.
It takes such a small amount of time and well worth it. You don’t want to spend the next two hours making bread, only to discover that your bread is flat and dense because your yeast is out of date.
You need very warm water. Our water is perfect right out of the tap. The temperature needs to be 105-115°.
What you are doing in this step is making certain that your yeast is still good. It’s a living thing.
The yeast needs warm water and something to snack on. For this recipe, I’ve used regular granulated sugar for the yeast’s snack.
You’re looking for a nice fluffy, bubbly top. If it hasn’t bubbled up like this after 10 minutes, your yeast may be too old.
Older yeast can still be used in your recipe, in a pinch, but it will probably take longer to rise.
Homemade bread is one of life’s tragedies… for the yeast.
You put yeast in a nice warm sauna bath. Feed it a quick snack. Give it a massage. Then you plunge it into a fiery oven.
It must be traumatic, but the results are tasty!
Can you substitute all purpose flour for bread flour?
According to the King of flour, King Arthur Baking, you can subsitute all purpose flour for bread flour.
There may be some differences in appearance and texture, but “in a pinch”, it’s fine to substitute.
Let’s talk about the Basil Pesto
As you know, I like to make my own basil pesto. We grow basil nearly year round in the Aerogarden.
One big difference between my own pesto and jarred pesto is that I don’t use as much oil in my own. Breads need fats or oils, though. I would have to add more oil to my pesto in order to get enough oil for this recipe.
I love the Sam’s Choice Italia Basil Pesto. It has such a delicious flavor. I don’t mind telling you that I had a spoonful of it right out of the jar before I put it in the refrigerator.
You don’t use the whole jar for the recipe. I toasted some of this bread in the air fryer for three minutes then I slathered on some of the leftover pesto. It was delicious! It’s all I needed for a quick little snack.
Try This Bread Recipe Too
If you like fresh bread, be sure to check out my Jalapeño Cheddar Bread, made easily in the bread machine too.
Italian Wheat Bread with Basil Pesto
- Bread Machine, if using Bread Machine instructions
- Standing Mixer with dough attachment, if using Standing Mixer instructions
- Standard Loaf Pan 9 x 5", if using oven for baking
- 1 cup Water, warm, 105-115°, to activate yeast
- 2 ¼ teaspoons Yeast, equal to one standard packet
- 3 tablespoons Sugar
- 5 tablespoons Italia Basil Pesto, unsalted
- 2 cups Bread Flour
- 1 cup Whole Wheat Flour
- 1 teaspoon Salt
- Vegetable oil, optional, if making by hand or mixer
- Cooking Spray, like Pam, optional for any use other than baking in bread machine
- Proof the yeast: In a small bowl or glass measuring cup, stir together water, yeast and sugar until mixed well. Set aside.
- After 10-15 minutes, check the yeast to see that it has a nice foam layer to ensure the yeast is viable. If there is no foam layer, check your yeast. It may be expired and you'll need to try again.
- Add basil pesto to bread pan in bread machine. Add yeast mixture to bread pan in bread machine. Add both flours to bread pan. Add salt to bread pan.
- Set bread machine to bake, light or dark loaf as desired. Or, alternatively, if you prefer a standard size loaf, set to dough only.
- If making dough only, once bread machine is finished, remove dough ball and place in loaf pan that has been sprayed with cooking spray. Cover with towel and allow to rise about 25 minutes then proceed to baking in the oven, as below.
- Preheat oven to 375°. Bake for 25-30 minutes until golden. It should sound hollow when tapped on the top.
- If desired, spread with butter and sprinkle on sea salt and sesame or chia seeds.
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