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Savoury Pesto and Walnut Sourdough Buns

by Melissa Sharp, Lindsay Stark from Modern Baker: A New Way To Bake

Modern Baker present a delicious savoury bun recipe, stuffed with walnut and pesto. These are perfect for pairing with soup or taking in a picnic or lunchbox.

From the book

Melissa Sharp, Lindsay Stark


Here’s another great change from bread, and a delicious savoury treat. Pesto and walnuts are often paired and for good reason, they produce wonderful umami flavours that are further enhanced by the sourdough tang.We make our own pesto using seaweed flakes and walnuts, both high in nutritional value as well as giving a flavour boost. You could also add some crumbled feta to the filling. These are perfect for picnics or as a side with soup.

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For the Active Wheat Starter:
strong white flour
water, at hand warm temp (32–37°C)
Day 1 ingredients:
75g strong white flour
75g water, at hand warm temp (32–37°C)
active wheat starter (ingredients above, method below)
Day 2 ingredients:
150g recipe starter made on Day 1
320g water, at hand warm temp (32–37°C)
500g sprouted wholemeal flour
6g salt
25g olive oil
For the filling:
5 tbsp pesto
100g walnuts
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, for glazing the top

Essential kit

You will need 26 x 20 cm brownie tray


To make the Active Wheat Starter (this will take 5 days)

Day 1

Mix together 1 tsp flour and 1 tsp water in a container with a lid. We recommend mixing with your hands rather than a spoon. As disgusting as it might sound, we all have naturally occurring yeasts on our hands, so this can give your starter a real boost.

Leave the mixture overnight at room temperature. Cover it with the lid but do not make it airtight. A screw-top jar with the lid partly done up is perfect. You want the yeasts in the air to get in, but you also want to stop the mixture drying out.

Day 2

wheat starter made on Day 1 1 tsp strong white flour 1 tsp water, at hand warm temp (32–37°C)

Throw away half of the mixture from Day 1. This is because you want to almost overwhelm the bacteria/yeast in the starter with food, by adding more flour than the weight of the original mixture. You could do this by adding more flour and warm water and not throwing any away, but you would very quickly end up with an excessively large amount of starter. Stir 1 tsp flour and 1 tsp water into the remaining mix and leave again at room temperature overnight.

Days 3 and 4

Repeat Day 2.

Day 5

By now you should notice your starter has bubbles in it. This means it is ready! Don’t worry if it smells acidic or cheesy, this is completely normal and each starter will create its own unique fragrance. Now you have your own living, bubbling jar of healthy microbes that you’ll be using for years to come.

To make the Savoury Pesto and Walnut Sourdough Buns:

Day 1:

Add the flour and water to the whole quantity of the starter and leave loosely covered overnight at room temperature.

Day 2:

In a large bowl combine the recipe starter with the water and mix gently.

In another bowl, combine the flour and salt.

Add the flour mix to the first bowl and combine well with your hands until it comes together in
a dough. Cover the bowl with a damp tea towel or shower cap and leave it to rest.

After 5–10 minutes, give the dough a fold in the bowl. Use slightly wet hands to prevent the dough sticking to them. Pull a section of the dough out to the side and fold it into the middle of the ball. Repeat this going around the ball of dough until you get back to the beginning (four or five folds). Use thescraper to turn the dough upside down, cover the bowl and leave for another 5–10 minutes. Repeat this another two times.

Fold once again, this time adding the olive oil, folding well and making sure the oil is fully combined with the dough. If you add the oil before this point, it can stop the gluten developing. After the final fold, cover the bowl again and leave it to rest for 1 hour at room temperature.

After an hour give the dough another fold and leave for another hour, this time in the fridge.

Line a brownie tray with baking parchment.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and roll it out to about 32 * 24 cm. Spread the
pesto over the top of the dough leaving a 2 cm gap at the bottom. Spread the walnuts over
the top of the pesto.

Roll up the dough towards you. As you roll, push the dough back then pull it forward to get the roll as tight as possible. You will end up with a long log.

Brush the top of the log with the olive oil. This will make the buns easier to divide when they are baked.

Cut the log into eight equal pieces, each about 4 cm wide. Place the buns swirl side up in the
brownie tray and press down well on each one.

At this point in the bakery we leave them in the retarder overnight. You can replicate this by putting them in the fridge, covered with a damp tea towel or shower cap.

In the morning preheat the oven to 250°C/ fan 230°C/Gas mark 10. When the oven is up to temperature, take the buns out of the fridge and put them straight in the oven.

Turn the temperature down to 230°C/fan 210°C/ Gas mark 8 and bake for 20–25 minutes, until the tops are an even golden colour.

As soon as the buns come out the oven, brush them with a thin layer of olive oil. Allow them to cool on the tray for at least 30 minutes before eating.


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