This goes out to my colleague Chris W., a scholar and a gentleman who shares with me a love of all things pesto. It’s way, way too hot to make them now–but later? In the fall? Oh, we’ll be pestoing everything in sight. Now if I’d only been able to plant some basil this year. Dang it.
(Yes, I know that’s not a picture of pesto rolls. It’s a picture of the Pacific coast, where it would be very nice to be right now, after a week of infernal heat.)
Pesto Rolls (a culinary homage to the Co-op)
Makes about 10 deliciously cheesy rolls
1 1/4 cups water
1 cup milk
2 tablespoons honey
2 teaspoons yeast (1 package active dry yeast)
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
5 1/2 cups unbleached white flour
2 teaspoons salt
1 cup of pesto
1 1/2 cups (or more, to taste) grated mozzarella cheese
In a small saucepan (or a Pyrex measuring cup, if you’re going to use the microwave), warm the milk, water, and honey, to a comfortable 100 degrees. Sprinkle in the yeast and let it dissolve. Leave this mixture for ten minutes or so–till it’s nice and bubbly. Add the oil.
Measure out the flour into your Kitchen Aid. Add the liquid, and mix with the dough hook into a rough, scraggly dough. Cover it and leave for 20 minutes. When you come back, add the salt and knead with the dough hook for ten minutes. Cover again and let rise until doubled, about an hour. Punch it down and form it into a tidy ball. On a lightly floured counter, pat the dough into a flat rectangle, not too thin and about 14 inches along the wide side.
Now spread your pesto evenly over the entire surface.
Top with a healthy layer of mozzarella cheese. Roll the whole dough up into a log, rolling all the dough towards you. A bench scraper is a big help here. Using a sharp knife and a gentle sawing action, slice the roll into one inch sections and place on a well-greased baking sheet. Sprinkle with a little more mozzarella.
Let rise until just doubled, 45 minutes or so. Bake at 325 for 20 minutes, rotating halfway through. Cool on the baking sheet.