Family Favorite: Pesto Sourdough Bread

A few years ago I was given a book of about ninety-billion recipes for a bread machine.  I’ve made, oh, five of them.  Maybe six.

One that we love so much we’ve “we-ified” it [Dohlism for changing a recipe to suit our purposes] is the elusive Pesto Sourdough Bread.

Why elusive?  Well, to be frank, I’m kind of a “spur-of-the-moment” bread maker.  I go in spurts, and consider myself doing well to decide 4 hours before I want to eat bread to make it, let alone the 4 days ahead of time it takes to get a sourdough starter going.  Because I really don’t use a starter enough to keep one going!  Even in the fridge!  And, for some reason, no bakery will sell me a cup of starter, even at double the price of a loaf of their sourdough bread.  Why is that?

Today I started a starter… and on Monday we shall feast!

Buttermilk Starter

  • 3/4 cup all-purpose or bread flour
  • Large pinch (rounded 1/8 tsp.) of yeast
  • 1 1/4 cup buttermilk (I used powdered buttermilk to make mine, since I never have buttermilk around!)
  1. Whisk together the flour, yeast and buttermilk (it will be about the consistency of pancake batter. Add a pinch or so of flour if it seems really runny)
  2. Pour into a “sitting container” (I use a quart mason jar) and secure 2 or 3 layers of cheesecloth to close (metal ring of mason jar fits right over the cloth)
  3. Put in a warm spot (75-80 degrees) and keep at room temperature. It will bubble and ferment and be flecked with butter spots from the buttermilk

First Feeding: After 3 days (36 hours) “feed” the starter with 2T flour and 3T water. Let stand at least one more day before using.

Feed equal parts water and flour (plus a pinch of sugar if you want it to be extra active) when you use the starter to make bread, or if unused and in fridge for 2 weeks (don’t leave at room temp without using for more than about 5 days w/out feeding). (Usually, I put in 1 cup water and 1 cup flour every time I make some bread.)

And here’s the bread recipe. I’m a bread machine gal all the way, so that’s how the recipe is structured. And if you are a fan of Delay Timer baking, you should pick a different recipe.  Also, I use dried herbs for all of these, except my fresh basil and homemade pesto I’m using this time!

Sourdough Pesto Bread
  • 1 cup buttermilk sourdough starter (or other sourdough starter)
  • 1/3 cup fat-free milk (can be made with dry milk – add correct water for 1/3 cup here, and powder after flour)
  • 2 T. olive oil
  • 3 T. pesto
  • 3 C. bread flour
  • 1 T. sugar (I really do mean 1 tablespoon; I know 1 tsp is more common for bread)
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. basil
  • 1 tsp. marjoram (similar to oregano, so in a pinch you could probably substitute since this isn’t in every kitchen)(funny, two of our favorite bread recipes use this… maybe we just really like marjoram)
  • 1 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
  • 2 tsp. bread machine yeast (that’s 1.5 tsp. SAF yeast)

Put in machine, run for basic setting, remove promptly, let cool completely (room temperature) before slicing in, and enjoy!


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