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Sun dried tomato pesto sourdough knots

Benito's picture

Sun dried tomato pesto sourdough knots

I saw a post that Maurizio made on his IG feed about basil pesto knots that he made, this was my inspiration for these sun dried pesto knots.  I used his recipe for the dough, although I had to decrease the hydration because his hydrations are always higher than I can do for my flours and conditions especially now that the high humidity is back in Toronto.  Also, as I have been doing lately, I am developing all my dough, even the enriched ones by hand rather than using the stand mixer in order to extend the life of my KA mixer.

The sun dried tomato pesto recipe is a favorite that I make on a relatively regular basis and use it for pasta, this is the first time trying it in a sourdough knot.  Let’s hope it turns out well.

Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto

1 8.5 oz jar sun-dried tomato in oil

1 cup fresh basil leaves packed

3 garlic cloves

1 small shallot peeled

2 tablespoon almonds

1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

1 tablespoon tomato paste

½ tsp red pepper flakes

150-200 g of a salty dry cheese such as Grana Padano, pecorino Romano or parmigiana reggiano 

½ tsp oregano

1/2 tsp pepper

1 tsp salt

Process all of the ingredients in a food processor 


For the dough


  • 66 grams unsalted butter 
  • 236 grams water (reduced by 5% from original)
  • 146 grams ripe sourdough starter (100% hydration)
  • 376 grams bread flour, plus 66 g to mix with butter
  • 1 large egg (about 53 grams)
  • 9 grams fine sea salt
  • 18 grams extra-virgin olive oil

Egg Wash

1 lg egg

1 tbsp whole milk


Overnight levain - need 146 g


9 g starter + 70 g water + 70 g bread flour (1:7:7)

Cut the butter into small pats and place on a plate to sit out at room temperature and soften overnight.



Mix the dough (9:00 a.m.)

Mix butter with 66 g of bread flour.  In the microwave, heat the water to about 76°F (24°C). Warming the water will help increase the final dough temperature at the end of mixing to ensure strong fermentation activity.

In a medium bowl first mix the sourdough starter, egg, salt, and warm water until well mixed.  Then add flour and mix until no dry bit of flour remain.  Rest 5-10 mins, then slap and fold dough until well developed.

Let the dough rest, uncovered, for 10 minutes in the bowl.

Add the oil to the dough in the bowl. Massage the oil into the dough then slap and fold until all the oil is absorbed.  Add the butter, smearing it on the dough.  Stretch and fold to combine, then slap and fold until well combined and gluten fully developed. The dough will be smooth, homogeneous and moderately elastic (strong) at the end of mixing, but still sticky.

Transfer the dough to a clean bowl, cover with reusable plastic or a silicone lid, and bulk ferment.


Bulk ferment the dough (9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.)

Let the dough rise at warm room temperature (76°F/24°C) for a total of 3 hours. During this time, you’ll give the dough three sets of coil folds to give it additional strength. The first set is performed 30 minutes after the start of bulk fermentation.  After the third set, let the dough rest, covered, for the remaining time in bulk fermentation.


Chill the dough (12:30 p.m. to 1:30 p.m., or up to 24 hours later)


Grease a muffin pan with butter, or line a cookie tray with parchment.  Alternatively butter ramekins or circular metal round molds.

After bulk fermentation, place the covered bowl in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour or up to 24. This time in the fridge will chill the dough, making it easier to roll out, cut, and twist into knots.


Roll out the dough, spread the pesto, cut, and shape the knots (1:30 p.m.).

Remove the bowl from the fridge, uncover, and liberally flour the top of the dough and a work surface. Using a plastic or silicone bowl scraper, gently scrape the dough onto the floured surface. Using a rolling pin, roll the dough out to a rough 10x14-inch rectangle so the long sides are at your left and right. Using an offset spatula or the back of a spoon, spread the pesto onto the dough from edge to edge.

Next, fold the top of the dough farthest from you down toward your body, overlapping about two-thirds of the dough-rectangle. Repeat for the bottom edge of the dough, folding it up over the dough so it completely overlaps and makes a three-layered rectangle in front of you, with short sides to your left and right—imagine folding up a letter you’re sending to your pen pal (is that still a thing?). Using a sharp chef’s knife, cut the rectangle into 9 (1-inch) strips.

Starting with one strip, cut into three narrower strips leaving a small amount at one end uncut.  Next plait the three strips, then starting with the uncut end roll tightly into a knot.  Place with knot with the ends of the braid side down in the muffin tin.  Repeat with the remaining strips.


Proof the shaped knots (2:00 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.)

Cover the knots with a large, airtight bag and let the dough proof on the counter at room temperature for 2½ hours. Be sure to heat the oven 15 to 30 minutes before the full 2½-hour proof time.  The knots should pass the poke test at the time of baking



Bake the knots (preheat oven at 4:00 p.m.; bake at 4:30 p.m.)

Place a rack in the middle of the oven; heat to 400°F (200°C).

In a small bowl, whisk the egg and milk until frothy. Remove the knots from the bag. Using a pastry brush, gently brush the egg wash onto each knot in a thin, uniform layer.

Bake the knots for 20 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 350°F (175°C) and bake for 15 to 20 minutes more, until the tops are golden. Avoid over-baking to ensure the knots are only slightly crunchy on the outside but have a soft interior.

Remove the pan from the oven. Lightly brush with the oil.  Let the knots cool for a few minutes, then remove from the muffin pan enjoy. They’re wonderful while still warm.

Once cooled, the knots can be stored in an airtight container on the counter for several days. Reheat in the microwave or a warm oven before serving.


i apologize I missed taking photos of a couple of steps to show folding them dough As a letterfold after applying the pesto.