These buns are filled with mediterranean roasted vegetables, home-made pesto (although you can probably skip this step) and spinach. Essentially, eating one of of these is like eating a snail swirl of pizza dough, crusty on the outside and light on the inside, with vegetably-goodness enclosed. I only managed two for dinner and am now sat here, full and content, blogging my recipe. It’s quite hard to get them all perfectly uniform, but even if they come in different shapes and sizes they are still pretty yummy. I always said I was Italian in past life.
Makes about 12
3 handful sized clumps of fresh basil leaves
100g pine nuts
100ml olive oil
2 cloves of garlic
a generous season of salt and black pepper
500g strong white bread flour
300ml FULL-FAT milk
50g unsalted butter
2 tablespoons instant yeast
1 1/2 tablespoons of salt
~150g butternut squash
1 red pepper
1 red onion
a handful of spinach leaves
a splash of oil, salt, pepper and a mixed italian spice mix (if you have one)
A little parmesan
1. Making pesto is really very easy and you can taste the difference. In fact, it is probably only very easy if you have a food processor or a mini lakeland chopper (the best £20 quid I ever spent, excluding the cat). First peel and lightly chop your garlic. Place this in your food pressor, along with your pine nuts, and blitz quickly until ground into an oily grainy paste like consistency. Scrape this out into your mixing bowl.
2. Next add your basil to the food processor and blitz until finely chopped. Scrape the basil into your mixing bowl. Add about half of the oil and mix thoroughly, giving it some elbow grease.
3. Next finely grate the cheese into the mix. Generously season with salt and pepper and add the rest of the oil. Again mix thoroughly. You can have a tentative taste at this point, but maybe don’t eat a whole mouthful as it’s pretty strong stuff. Either chill in the fridge (pesto will last for unto 2 weeks) or use instantly if making the buns in the same go. If you do make it beforehand and chill, remove it from the fridge about half an hour before needed so it is easier to spread over the dough.
4. The next step is to make the dough. Measure out the flour into a large mixing bowl. Add the instant yeast to one side of the bowl and the salt to the other and mix in.
5. Gently heat the milk in a pan until warm. Cube the butter and add it to the milk, stirring until the butter melts. Take off the heat. Once cooled to a luke warm temperature, beat the egg into the mixture.
6. Make a well in the centre of your flour and add the wet mixture a bit at a time, stirring roughly with a wooden spoon until a basic lump of dough forms. Tip the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for about 5 minutes until smooth and elastic. This is a really nice dough to work with, soft but not sticky.
7. Cover and leave to prove in a lightly greased bowl for an hour to an hour and a half. The dough should have roughly doubled in size.
8. In the meantime make the filling. Preheat the oven to 180•C. Peel and chop a butternut squash into small cubes. You won’t need all the squash, I would say roughly a third of it. Drizzle in olive oil, and flavour with salt, pepper and mediterranean spices. Put in the oven quickly as this will take the longest to cook (~30 minutes). Peel and chop a red onion into small pieces and add this to the roasting pan. Finally chop a red pepper into small cubes and add this. Remove when all the veg have started to soften. Once cooked, remove and leave to cool.
9. Grease and flour two baking trays. When you think your bread has proven, tip it out onto a lightly floured surface. Gently roll/stretch out your dough, being very careful not to knock the air out of your dough. Aim for a rectangle about 30cm x 60cm. Keep the surface well floured so the dough doesn’t stick. The dough will shrink back on itself so roll it out a few times, letting it rest and shrink in-between rolls. Eventually it will get used to it’s new stretched out shape.
10. Spread the pesto over gently so all the dough surface is covered. Next evenly sprinkle over the vegetables, leaving a little gap up one long edge to make it easier to get a good swirl going when you roll it up. Finally sprinkle over spinach leaves.
11. Roll the dough up like a 60cm sausage, along the shorter edge. This is quite tricky and bizarre. Chop the dough sausage along it’s length in approximately 5-7cm wide chunks. Place each bun on a baking tray with the swirl facing up/ or down. You might want to chop of the very send sections which won’t be as well formed.
12. Leave to prove for a further hour.
13. When the prove is nearly done, preheat the oven to 200•C. Bake for about 15 minutes then reduce the temperature to 180•C until golden brown looking through-out. Dust with a little parmesan and eat warm.