Twisted Braided Pesto Bread

“There is no exquisite beauty… without some strangeness in the proportion.”  Edgar Allan Poe
What does true beauty really mean?  Beauty means something different to almost each person.  The understanding and importance of beauty is motivated and formed by each individual’s own personal experiences.  When people think about beauty, they think about mainly the visual appearance of things and people.  Beauty, in its physical meaning affects everyone’s life, however, its mystery, magic, that should be most appreciated, remains distant and secretive.  What qualifies something or someone as pretty? It is a mixture of many different factors, elements and levels: age, memories, moments, feelings, motivation, time, nurture, nature…and so on. If one, for example considers the beauty of bread, crusty, speckled brown skin suddenly becomes a quality of charm, rather than a marker of ugliness.  For a beautiful loaf yeasty, sour smell is a pride rather than a shame. What is the true meaning of beauty? Beauty means celebration of difference and talent, it is acceptance and embracing unique interior and exterior qualities.  Whilst people who are different can have a hard time feeling appreciation in general, special qualities are the most beautiful of all when it comes to baking.   The most beautiful creations are the one that are unique and rare. And can anyone wholeheartedly state that bread and beauty do not belong? Those have certainly not tried a hot, moist, buttery slice freshly landed from the oven on their plates…
125 g unsalted butter, melted
2 eggs at room temperature
85 g honey
180 ml plus 2 Tablespoons lukewarm water
20 g fresh yeast
¾ Tbsp salt
440 g unbleached all-purpose flour
3 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 tsp garlic
2 tsp salt
3 tbsp pesto
4 tbsp ground nuts
Melt the butter and set aside to cool slightly. Lightly beat the eggs in a small bowl. Add honey and melted butter to beaten eggs. Gently and briefly mix together then set aside. Combine lukewarm water, yeast and salt together in a 3 quart container using a sturdy fork or whisk. Add eggs, butter, honey mixture. Mix together briefly. Add half the flour. Mix it in with a fork or sturdy whisk. Add the remaining flour and mix. Use damp hands once your fork or whisk becomes overburdened. The dough will be damp and sticky. Place dough in a warm spot, covered but not closed for three hours. Refrigerate for approximately two hours . Dough will be easier to handle once chilled but it will also need to rest for two hours after shaping and before baking.
“Beauty of whatever kind, in its supreme development, invariably excites the sensitive soul to tears.”  Edgar Allan Poe
Dust top of dough with flour and cover work surface generously with flour. Roll the dough into an oval, turning and keeping the dough well-floured the whole time.  Spread top with melted butter. Save a little for drizzling on top. Cover with the rest of filling ingredients evenly. Fold one long edge to start roll into a long log. Cut the dough log in half lengthwise. Turn the two halves so that the cut sides face up and so all the layers of dough and filling can be seen.  Pinch ends of the two halves together on one side and coil them a bit to get the two halves joined lightly at one end. Gently cross the ends over each other taking care to arrange the cut sides together as much as possible. Start  braiding the two pieces, trying to keep the open layers exposed so the cut ends remain on top (this is what makes this bread effect).Pinch the ends together and form a wreath. Twist the two halves together till all the lengths is used up. Coil the twist into a nest. Lift the coil up and tuck the final end under the center of the coil then gently let the coil fall into place and arrange it nicely.  Use the little bit of melted butter saved earlier to drizzle over the center of the nest. Allow it to rest in a warm place for two hours before baking. Bake on center rack at 200 degrees C for 25-30 minutes. Pastry should be golden on top and feel firm to the touch in the center. Allow to cool a few minutes.

“Youth is happy because it has the capacity to see beauty. Anyone who keeps the ability to see beauty never grows old.”  Franz Kafka

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