It’s not as pretty as I’d hoped, but that was more than made up for in the eating! Thick and chewy and absolutely bursting with flavour.
380g (3 cups) all-purpose (plain) flour
100g (2/3 cup) fine semolina
1 x 7g sachet (2 tsp) instant yeast
260ml (1 cup + 1 tbsp) tepid water
30ml (2 tbsp) olive oil
9g (1 1/2 tsp) salt
8 cloves garlic
50g (6 tbsp) pine nuts
1 bunch flat leaf parsley
1 large sprig fresh sage
2 large sprigs fresh thyme
4 large sprigs fresh oregano
50g (3 tbsp) tomato paste
50g (1/2 cup) finely grated parmesan
extra olive oil as needed
Note: if pine nuts are prohibitively expensive or hard to come by, I find roughly chopped raw cashews a good substitute.
Preheat oven to 190°C (375°F) with the rack in the centre.
Whisk together the flours and yeast, add the water and mix to a shaggy dough.
Add the oil and mix in, then add the salt and knead until dough is soft and elastic, 8-10 minutes by hand or 5 minutes in a stand mixer.
Place dough in a clean, lightly oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let rise until doubled – about one hour, depending on ambient temperature.
Peel and trim the garlic cloves, place in a small ramekin or oven-safe dish, cover with olive oil then cover the ramekin with aluminium foil. Roast on a baking sheet in centre of oven for 30 minutes. Set aside to cool.
Spread the pine nuts in a small skillet and toast over medium-low heat until just starting to brown. Set aside to cool.
Turn dough out and knead lightly, cut off a golf ball sized bit of dough for the centre swirl and cut the remainder into three equal pieces. Gently form into balls and let rest, covered, for another 15 minutes.
Using a small food processor or stick blender, grind the pine nuts with a dash of olive oil until you get a thick paste. It doesn’t need to be completely smooth. Separate the leaves rom the stems of the herbs (discard stems) and add them to the pine nuts and blend or process until you have a paste, adding more olive oil as needed. You don’t need it to be as thin as pesto for pasta, just a spreadable consistency. Set aside.
Drain the oil off the garlic cloves, reserving it in a small bowl, then in another small bowl, mash them with a fork, then mix in the tomato paste. Again, you don’t need it to be as thin as pasta sauce, just a spreadable consistency, so only add as much of the reserved oil as needed. Set aside.
Roll out one piece of dough to a circle of about 20cm (8″). Spread with the herb pesto and sprinkle with half the parmesan.
Roll out another piece of dough to the same size, place on top of the other one and spread with the tomato paste and sprinkle with the other half of the parmesan.
Roll out the third piece of dough, place on top of the others.
Using a sharp knife, cut the dough into 8 triangles.
Make slits that go 2/3 of the way lengthwise in the middle of each triangle. The slits should not reach the base of the triangle nor the tip. (see the .pdf linked below for pictures)
Take the tip of each triangle, fold it back and insert from above into the slit you made and pull it through from the underside, back to its original position.
Arrange triangles on a parchment-lined baking sheet and pinch the two angles at the base of the triangle up together.
Roll the small piece of dough you reserved earlier into a long snake, about 1cm or 1/2″ thick, then roll it up into a coil and arrange it in the middle of the petals.
Brush the loaf with olive oil, cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rise for about 45 minutes.
Preheat oven to 240°C (465°F) with the rack in the centre.
Bake loaf for 5 minutes, lower the temperature to 200°C (400°F) and bake for a further 30 minutes, until deep golden brown.
Remove to a wire rack to cool completely.