Hybrid Basil Pesto Couronne (Crown), Asparagus and Broccoli Soup and Sesame Seed Crackers

ETA (06/21/2016) : Sesame Seed Cracker Recipe

When you’re a grown-up, you can’t play with Play-Doh but bread dough is just as much fun. And you get to eat it afterwards. Which is why I made this couronne (crown) or wreath filled with basil pesto. I briefly considered adding sun dried tomatoes to the mixture but then didn’t bother. Maybe next time.

You can make sweet versions too filled with everything from Nutella, chocolate spread or nuts (almonds, pecans, walnuts) to dried fruit (apricots, cherries, cranberries, raisins), with or without a glaze.

The ‘crumb’ or inside of the crown

Hybrid Basil Pesto Brioche Couronne (Crown) – makes 1 loaf

3- 3 1/4 cups all purpose flour, divided
1/2 cup active sourdough starter
1/2 cup warmed milk
2 tsp sugar
2 tsp dry active yeast
1 tsp salt
2 large eggs, room temperature
2 tbsp butter, softened
1/2 cup basil pesto, home made or purchased
2 tbsp grated Parmesan cheese

Garnish with another 2 tbsp grated Parmesan cheese

In a medium bowl, dissolve the sugar in the warmed milk. Sprinkle in the dry yeast and stir. Let sit for 5-10 minutes until foamy.

In a large bowl, add 2 cups of flour and salt. Stir in sourdough starter, activated yeast mixture, eggs and butter. Beat well with a wooden spoon until you get a thick, smooth batter.

Stir in the remaining flour, 1/4 cup at a time, until it’s too thick to stir then turn out your dough onto a lightly floured working surface. Knead for another 5-10 minutes until your dough is soft but not sticky. The egg yolks will give a golden colour to your dough.

Lightly oil a large bowl, add your dough ball, cover and let rise in a warm place until double, about an hour.

Turn your risen dough out onto a large sheet of parchment paper, flatten and roll out into a 12 x 18 inch rectangle. Spread the pesto over the dough, leaving about 1/2 an inch clear on the top and bottom of the long edge. Roll up, pinch the seam tightly and turn the roll over so it’s seam side down. With a pizza cutter, cut the roll in half. Turn the roll halves, cut side up and braid together, making sure you keep the cut side up. Form your braid into a circle, pinching together the 2 edges.

Preheat the oven to 425 deg. Fahrenheit.

Lightly cover the crown with a sheet of food wrap and let rise for 30-45. If you poke the dough gently, it will spring back up when it’s risen sufficiently. Sprinkle another couple of tablespoons of grated Parmesan cheese over the top of the crown.

Bake the crown for 25-30 minutes or until the top is golden brown and the bottom is browned and set. (Check carefully after 10-12 minutes and if the top is getting too browned, cover with a large sheet of aluminum foil.)

I was really pleased with the oven spring I got on the crown.

Serving a wedge of this flavourful bread with a bowl of soup is a perfect pairing. I had a small bundle of fresh asparagus (and some broccoli stems in the freezer) so I made a small pot (3 servings) enriched with half and half. No potatoes and I strained the pureed veggies through a sieve so I ended up with a thin soup. The asparagus tips were blanched and added to my soup for texture.

Asparagus and Broccoli Soup

If you don’t want to make the bread, some home made crackers (sesame seed in this case) are a nice accompaniment to the soup. I’ll post the recipe later.

Sesame Seed Crackers cut into 1 inch squares and baked for 16 minutes.

Crispy Sesame Flatbread/Crackers – makes 12 flatbreads

1 2/3 cup / 200g all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
2 tbsp each of black and white sesame seeds
3/4 tsp salt
1 tbsp olive oil
1/2 cup / 120ml water

Pre-heat the oven to 400°F/200°C.

In a bowl add in the dry ingredients, mix and then add in the wet ingredients. Mix and knead with your hand until it’s a smooth dough. You may have to add a bit more water or flour to reach a perfect non-sticky dough like in the photo.

On a lightly floured baking sheet roll out the dough as thin as possible. Make sure it’s evenly thin so it bakes evenly.

Cut around the frizzy corners with a pizza cutter and then divide the dough into separate flatbreads. You can make them bigger, longer or whatever you want!

Bake them in the oven for about 15-20 minutes (until they get crispy and golden spots).

Serve for example with some homemade hummus or with soups. Enjoy!

Storage: Store them in an air-tight jar or zip-lock bag (after letting them cool off completely) to keep them crispy!


19 thoughts on “Hybrid Basil Pesto Couronne (Crown), Asparagus and Broccoli Soup and Sesame Seed Crackers

  1. Great idea to add pesto to your crown, which looks lovely. I just had my first asparagus this year in a restaurant, but I still wait for local ones (10 x better) to appear (I’m sure those I had came from Spain).

    1. I didn’t get a chance to look and see where the asparagus came from but it was great. Cooked perfectly too … tender but still some resistance to the tooth. Just finished the last of the soup with chunks of the pesto bread in it.

  2. Wow, all of these look great! I will need to try the crown. Would jarred sundried tomatoes work ok? I made crackers this past week too 😄 as always, my kids went crazy for them. I made cinnamon sugar ones this time though and those disappeared faster than the savory ones.

    1. Thank you. You can replace the starter with a half cup of warm milk and an additional 1 tsp of yeast (increasing the total yeast to 3 tsp = 1 tbsp and the milk to 1 cup ). You’ll end up stirring in more flour to get the correct consistency as well.

  3. I too made a savoury version of the rope ring bread and it turned out excellent! I love how each slice swells up like it does, making people wonder how it’s done! Pesto is one of our favourite condiments and using it in the braid is quite clever, it must have made your home smell wonderful.

    1. I prefer savoury breads to sweets and had a small jar of pesto in my pantry. It seemed destined to be. And, I wanted to make hot cross buns for Easter so I didn’t really want TWO sweet breads in my house. 🙂

      1. It can be really challenging to twist the two parts together with all the filling in, I found it messy work!

      2. Definitely messy especially as the cut sections open up as you’re trying to braid them together. It’s really a 3 or 4 hand situation. 🙂

      3. I’m going to take a break from sourdough baking for a while. Yesterday, I used up the last of the starter I revived from frozen by making enough pizza dough for 3 pizzas (2 are in the freezer) and a batch of sourdough pancakes which are also wrapped up and frozen away. I had kept this batch going for a month. 🙂

        I want to make a chocolate babka (with a streusel topping) next but I’m not sure when that will happen other than it will be a weekend. Not next weekend though.

      4. I’ve always wanted to make a babka! Hope it goes well for you and would be great to see some pictures!

    1. Thank you but I’m not even CLOSE to being an expert. When you’re cooking for one and not eating bread daily, bread baking is a special and rare treat. 🙂

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