HBinFive March 15 Bread Braid

Working with a half batch of the Pesto Pine Nut dough, I made a dozen rolls, six at a time.

I am fortunate that our food co-op makes their own first-rate pesto with spinach, basil and walnuts. The rolls were perfumed with the aroma of these ingredients.

I am trying to be generous for as long as possible here, but I can't hold off any longer in bursting out that I was very happy last evening when we finally finished these rolls off. I didn't think they had much flavor. Then there was also their unfortunate color, a brownish grey, that was not appealing, either.

Maybe it was the spelt flour. It's hard to say because I have never used spelt flour before, so to judge it when it is combined with pesto, isn't fair.

The silver lining here is that I tried two new recipes to go along with these rolls.

The first was a warm mushroom salad, which was wonderful. I used local, baby bella mushrooms, and arugula, which we have been getting all Winter.

A word of warning about this recipe, however, we got 4 main course and 2 side dishes out of it. So, depending on how much salad you want to make, you could cut the recipe in half. I kept the salad components stored separately, so each dinner, I warmed up the mushrooms and put together the rest of the ingredients.

The second recipe, was this lentil soup. Easy, comforting and hearty. I used chicken broth and added water as needed.

For the rolls send-off, we made little grilled cheese sandwiches to go with the rest of the lentil soup. These rolls were definitely improved by the good, melted cheddar cheese.

I struggle with these flavored breads. I am making some of them for the experience here in this group. On my own, I would just flip the page and keep right on going until I found a nice all-purpose bread dough.

I like my bread to get me through breakfast, lunch and dinner. That means it needs to be able to handle butter and jam, mustard, and olive oil. If that dough can become pizza, focaccia, and fougasse, embellished with toppings, or ingredients kneaded in before baking, even better.

I have to say, though, that challenging myself to go beyond my comfort level is offering a good learning experience. Even if I never make some of these breads again, I am becoming a more experienced baker by sharing in the creativity of this group.

Happy Spring everyone!