A good special occasion or weekend recipe that doesn’t need much active time, these pesto rolls are made with a simple soft enriched dough and filled with any pesto you’d like. Try adding extras, like cheese or dried tomatoes, to the filling if you’d like. These make a wonderful side for summer soup and other seasonal mains, but can be made year round with jarred pesto.
Ingredient Notes and Substitutions
- Flour: pictured is with light spelt flour, but plain white all-purpose flour can be substituted. Use up to half whole-grain flour for a more nutritious option.
- Milk: any type of milk can be used. I always use oat milk, but any non-dairy (apart from coconut) or dairy milk will work.
- Yeast: fresh or dry, traditional or quick, it doesn’t matter. If using instant yeast, it can be mixed in with the dry ingredients and the blooming step skipped.
- Honey: use maple syrup or sugar for a fully vegan option.
- Pesto: any type of green pesto can be used here, either homemade or store-bought.
- Add-ins: a handful of grated cheese, finely chopped dried tomatoes, and roasted garlic would all be good, but many different additions could be sprinkled over the filling.
Step by Step
Step 1: mix the milk, honey, and yeast, then set aside to bloom. Whisk in the olive oil.
Step 2: add the flour and salt, then mix until a rough dough forms.
Step 3: knead by hand or with a mixer until smooth and elastic.
Step 4: set aside to rise until doubled in size.
Step 5: roll the dough out into a large rectangle and cover evenly in pesto.
Step 6: roll up into a spiral and cut into 12 rolls, placing into a greased baking dish.
Step 7: set aside to rise again until puffy, about 20 minutes.
Step 8: bake until lightly golden and serve warm.
These are very much like a classic soft bun – think grandmother’s rolls at a holiday gathering – but with a pesto filling. They make for a nice slightly alternative option at a holiday table and aren’t much more work than plain yeast buns. Think cinnamon rolls, but with a savoury filling.
I had one extra little bun this time, so I tried steaming it in a low canning jar and it worked well! I don’t have a bamboo steamer so haven’t tried them in that, but these can be steamed for about 10 minutes for very soft, light buns.
The dough is fairly soft, so be sure to use enough flour when rolling out the dough and that the surface is evenly floured to avoid sticking. You can also choose to lightly oil the work surface rather than using flour, but I’m not so fond of this method.
A decent hand mixer can be used to knead this dough with the dough attachments. Otherwise, knead by hand or use a stand mixer.
How to Store
Storage: these keep quite well for up to three days at room temperature. Store in a sealed container and note that they do start to dry out a bit over time.
Freezing: transfer the fully cooled rolls to an airtight container and freeze for up to three months.
- Don’t over-knead: this note is more for those who use spelt flour as called for in the recipe. It requires less kneading time than standard white flour because it is lower in gluten.
- Check your yeast: if you’re not sure the yeast is still viable, test a small amount in a bit of warm (not hot) water. It should bubble up after about ten minutes. If it doesn’t, you’ll need new yeast before starting this recipe.
- Keep yeast cold: both fresh and dried yeast should be stored in the refrigerator for the longest shelf life, and to make sure it’s reliable within the best-by date.
- Warm the pesto: if your pesto has been refrigerated, take it out beforehand to warm up for at least an hour at room temperature. It will be hard to spread evenly on the dough if it’s cold.
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Soft Pesto Rolls
- Add the milk, honey, and yeast to a large mixing bowl and whisk to combine. If your milk is cold before beginning, it can be heated until skin-temperature before use.250 ml non-dairy milk, 1 teaspoon honey, 2 ¼ teaspoons dried yeast
- Set aside for the yeast to bloom (foam or bubble), about ten minutes. Once it has, whisk in the olive oil.3 tablespoons olive oil
- Add the flour and salt to the bowl and mix with an electric mixer or by hand until a rough dough forms.400 grams spelt flour*, 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
- Knead by hand for 8-10 minutes, or with an electric mixer for 5-6 minutes, until the dough is smooth and elastic. With a damp hand, tuck the dough under itself to form a smooth ball in the mixing bowl.
- Cover and set the bowl in a warm, draft-free place for the dough to rise until doubled in size, about one hour.
- Once the dough has risen, turn it out onto a floured work surface and shape it into a rough ball. Roll out to a rectangle about 30x40cm (12×16 in.), making sure the dough isn't sticking to the counter.
- Grease a large baking dish with some olive oil and set aside. Spread the pesto in an even layer over the dough, then roll from the long edge to make a spiral. Cut into 12 equally sized rolls and place into the baking dish.200 grams pesto
- Cover and set aside to rise for about 20 minutes, until puffy but not doubled in size. While the rolls are rising, preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F).
- Once the buns have risen again, bake for 20-25 minutes, or until lightly golden and the centre springs back when lightly touched. Cool for at least 20 minutes before serving.
* For American cup measurements, please click the pink link text above the ingredient list that says ‘American’.
Nutrition is provided as a courtesy and is an estimate. If this information is important to you, please have it verified independently.