Whenever I make bread, firstly I have to be in the mood – and secondly I *really* like to play around with dough and see how the mood takes me…every time the results are different but overall I've never had an inedible or really bad loaf, so I must be doing something right!
This particular bread idea came about as I had some pesto in the fridge that needed eating up. Fortunately I’d used it prior to this photograph (note to self – jars go at the back of the fridge!):
Anyway, back to the monkey bread, it was really quite fun to make, and also went down really well with my guests! I used the loaf recipe given on the yeast packet*, but with a fifth of the bread flour switched for stoneground wholemeal flour, which gives a nice wholesome flavour, and then split the dough and used the smaller half to make a little loaf, which in turn made some rather elegant egg and cress finger sandwiches and the remaining dough was used for the monkey bread.
Incase you are wondering about the name of this bread, I was inspired to call this one 'monkey bread' after spotting a sweet bread made in a free-form-ish kind of way and also mainly as I just liked the name and I couldn’t think of anything better! Pesto Ball bread doesn’t quite have the same ring to it..!
Once the dough was kneaded, and spent an hour or so on a sunny windowsill rising beautifully, I then split it into a lot of small chunks, quickly flattened it out, added a small blob of the pesto, then folded over edges to seal it in, rolled back into a ball and placed them in a lined 20cm sandwich pan, and repeated the process with the remaining balls of dough. Once it was fully assembled, it had a quick gloss with the egg spray from Lakelands I have fallen in love with, then into a hot oven (about 17 fan) for around 25 minutes, or until it sounded hollow when tapping its bottom.
Ideally serve warm, with butter. Reheats well the next day too but I doubt it will hang around that long!
*Recipe taken and tweaked from Tesco fast action dried yeast – note this makes more dough than needed so play around with the remainder or adjust accordingly
550g strong white bread flour
200g stoneground organic wholemeal flour
1x7g fast action yeast sachet
1 tsp sea salt
450ml lukewarm water
2 tbsp olive oil
Using a large bowl, mix the flour, salt, oil and yeast, gradually stir in the water to form a soft dough
Tip onto a floured surface and knead for 10 minutes by hand, or alternatively in a mixer with a dough hook for about 5 minutes, you want a nice soft, stretchy dough. Then shape and create as above or how the mood takes you!
Despite having a perfectly wonderful Kenwood chef, complete with dough hook I still prefer to knead by hand! So therapeutic and I believe your bread is better with all the love put into it! I did read somewhere recently that you should never bake when angry, as it will show in your baking! Not sure how true it is but as I find kneading pretty calming, I think it’s an ideal de-stressing exercise!