Crusty Walnut-Pesto Bread
3 C. bread flour
2 packages rapid-rise yeast
1 t. salt
1 T. sugar
1 large egg
1/3 C. extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 C. finely chopped fresh parsley
1 C. finely chopped fresh basil
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 C. ground walnuts
1 C. grated Parmesan cheese
1 1/3 C. hot water
An additional 1 1/2 C. bread flour for adjusting the dough
Cornmeal for dusting the sheet pan
1 large egg
1 T. water
Combine the flour, yeast, salt and sugar in the bowl of a food processor or the bowl of a 5-quart mixer fitted with the dough hook. Add the egg, olive oil, herbs, garlic, walnuts and cheese. Process until the mixture is well blended.
Add the hot water and process until a soft dough forms, using as much of the additional flour as needed. Process for 1 minute, if using the food processor. If using the mixer, knead for 5 minutes. Turn the dough out into a lightly oiled bowl. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap; set the bowl in a warm place and allow the dough to double in volume, about 45 minutes to 60 minutes.
Sprinkle an ungreased sheet pan with cornmeal. Punch down the risen dough and divide it in half. Shape each half into an oblong loaf and place the loaves side by side on the cornmeal-sprinkled sheet pan. Cut five slashes in the top of each loaf. Lightly cover the loaves and allow them to rise until they have doubled in volume.
Whisk the egg and water together to make the glaze. Uncover the loaves, brush them with the glaze and bake them at 400°F. in the middle of the oven. Note: At the beginning of baking, place an 8-inch cake pan filled with an inch of boiling water on the bottom rack of the oven. This will produce a crusty bread with a soft interior. Bake the loaves until golden and crusty, about 25 minutes to 30 minutes. Remove the loaves from the oven and allow them to cool on a wire rack. Serve this bread the same day it is baked.
Makes 2 loaves, 20 servings.