Pull Apart Pesto Rolls

This is something I first made a year ago, at least and have been making and teaching a lot ever since. It’s a simple bread recipe that got perked up with the addition of my friend Megha of i2cook‘s fantastic basil pesto. Megha makes a cashew nut and soy oil pesto that is fresh and organic, and quite versatile–I’ve used it in sandwiches and pastas and dips and have always been happy with the result. It works beautifully in these rolls, too.

Apart from pestos of various kinds, I have played around with:

  • Maharashtrian or Gujarati-style garlic chutney mixed with a little grated cheddar
  • Nutella or any other Nut Butter with chopped nuts (just increase the amount of sugar in the dough and use milk instead of water)
  • Indian pickle masalas (I’ve used the masala and pickling oil leftover in jars after the pieces of mango and lemon have vanished, and I have been more than happy with the result!)
  • Chopped fresh herbs with butter and/or cheese
  • Chopped chorizo and sundried tomatoes
  • Jalapenos and cheese

Here’s the recipe!


  • 200 gms. flour
  • 2 tsp. yeast (I use fast acting dry yeast; if you’re using an Indian brand of dry yeast, use 2.5 tsp. and rest the dough longer)
  • 2 tsp. sugar
  • ¾ cup lukewarm water (more or less as needed)
  • 3 tbsp. Pesto
  • 2 tsp. butter +for brushing
  • 1 tsp. salt


  1. Place the yeast and sugar in a bowl and top with the lukewarm water. Leave in a warm place to froth for 5-10 minutes.
  2. Make a soft dough using the frothed yeast and the flour, adding more water if necessary. Work the dough on a clean surface such as a counter top.
  3. Rub the salt and butter together until light and foamy and work into the dough. Knead well. Rest covered with a plastic wrap or moist muslin for 15-20 minutes (in a warm climate) or until double in size.
  4. Punch  the dough and knead again. Roll out onto a floured surface until about ¼ inch thick. Spread the Nutella.
  5. Roll the dough into a spiral log.
  6. Cut the log into 2-inch pieces and place cut side up in a round 9-inch pan with some space in between for the rolls to rise. Leave to double in size again.
  7. Bake for about 20 minutes at 200 degrees centigrade. The tops should be a light gold.
  8. Remove and brush with the melted butter when hot.
  9. Cool completely before serving.

This is my contribution to January 2013’s We Knead to Bake event, organized by one of my food photography idols, Aparna, of My Diverse Kitchen. Check out her post to see what the other members of the group have been baking!


Comments (10)

  1. Aparna February 1, 2013 at 2:17 am

    Pesto can make a good something even better. Love the “flower” rolls. 🙂

  2. Megha February 1, 2013 at 8:06 am

    So happy to see this post. Bookmarked it and will try the recipe soon 🙂

  3. Nandita February 9, 2013 at 7:45 pm

    Saee, this looks lovely. Was planning to make this for a friend. However, 200g flour is less than a cup a flour, so wondering if that will actually yield 8 rolls like you’ve shown in the pic. Would appreciate if you clarified this.

  4. meghana February 14, 2013 at 1:43 am

    Hey… this looks lovely. Could you pls tell me where can i buy the right yeast?

  5. ruchi bagla February 25, 2013 at 7:02 am

    Hi Saee…
    Can I use use whole wheat flour or multigrain grain flour instead of plain flour. If yes what changes in other ingredient shud i make.???

    • admin March 4, 2013 at 5:25 am

      Ruchi, you could use wholwehat and multigrain flour, but I would suggest using 50-50 whoolewheat and plain. If you want to use all wholewheat, add 2 tbsp. bran to the flour. The bread will be denser, but nice anyway. 🙂

  6. Jyotsna Godbole March 2, 2013 at 10:23 am

    I made the rolls yesterday. (with garlic chutney) they were delicious ! thank you for the recipe.

  7. Rucha November 30, 2013 at 12:59 am

    Where can we get gud quality of yest in mumbai???

  8. Mandira March 17, 2015 at 11:13 pm

    Landed here by chance. Glad I found this blog.

    I tried out this recipe last night and the results were lovely.


  9. Prabha July 29, 2016 at 7:45 am

    Baked these rolls today. They are very tasty. I saw the recipe in your book on Breads. Since these rolls are so good, I wanted to share the recipe with my sister, and found this blog with the recipe. Thank you for the book and your experiences with breads of all kinds. Food is really exciting and it is nice to read others equally exciting experiences.

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