Tomato Basil Pinwheels

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My first experiences in the kitchen were of the baking kind. I’d get up early and make some kind of sweet coffee cake or cinnamon buns on Sunday morning to make my family happy. All I remember was that I was about ten when I started the ritual.

Baking became addictive for me, although I’ve since changed from sweet baked goods to preferring everything savory.

I’ve posted on three savory yeast breads on this blog – Chili Pecan Buns, Pesto Pinwheels, and Bread for Cheese. They’re just so much fun to create, and no recipe is required.

I happened to have a chunk of Comté, and decided to use it in a yeasted bread, along with sun-dried tomatoes, and make them in the style of cinnamon buns, much like the pesto pinwheels. Simple, yet delicious. By themselves, with a soup, stew, or just as a basic savory bread to serve with dinner.

So, I’m not writing down an exact recipe, because I like the idea of encouraging my readers who are novice cooks to come up with their own versions of recipes customized to their specific tastes. Don’t like sun-dried tomatoes? Use feta and olives instead! Or nuts!

But I’ll tell you what I did. And if you don’t make your own bread dough, you can make these rolls with purchased pizza dough.

Tomato Basil Pinwheels
makes 10

Comté or Gruyère or Fontina, approximately 8 ounces
1 – 8.5 ounce jar sun-dried tomatoes in oil, drained
1 lb. bread dough or pizza dough, risen at least once
Olive oil, about 2 tablespoons
Dried Basil, about 1 tablespoon
Cayenne pepper flakes, optional.
Approximately 1/3 cup finely grated Parmesan

First grate the cheese you’re using.


Then place the sun-dried tomatoes in a colander to drain the oil. The product I used was julienned tomatoes packed in oil with Italian herbs.


My dough weighed exactly 16 ounces when it was ready to roll.
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Roll out the dough to a rectangle, approximately 16″ in length by 10″ in width. First add a drizzle of olive oil, and top with the cheese.
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Add the drained sun-dried tomatoes, and then the basil and cayenne pepper flakes, to taste.
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Roll up the dough lengthwise, keeping it tight. Snip off the ends if necessary.
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Slice down through the log, making even pieces, and place then spiral side up and down on a cookie sheet. Mine were about 2″ thick. The pinwheels don’t have to touch. Also, you could use a baking dish instead to contain them, or even muffin tins.
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Let the pinwheels rise for at least 45 minutes while the oven is preheating to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Sprinkle them with the finely-grated Parmesan, and put the cookie sheet in the oven.
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Bake for approximately 15-20 minutes; they should be golden brown on the tops.
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Let cool slightly and serve.

My husband ate some for lunch. With nothing else! Oh, and he doesn’t like sun-dried tomatoes.
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I’m very happy that I made these pinwheels.
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Pesto Pinwheels

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This post is less about a recipe, and more about an idea. And if you love pesto, you’ve probably had many ideas about how to use it – beyond adding it to pasta or minestrone soup.

So the other day I came across a recipe for cinnamon rolls, which are wonderful, but I typically don’t make sweet baked goods for breakfast unless it’s a holiday. But then I thought… rolls filled with pesto. Brilliant!!!

So that’s exactly what I did. And they came out magnificently. They’re pretty powerful in flavor, so should be paired with grilled chicken, fish, or a nice creamy soup. The protein can’t be anything with a strong flavor or the basil and garlic with fight and conquer.

I’m not going to do a tutorial on bread, because I’ve done one quite detailed on making this bread and that bread. But I encourage you to make the bread dough from scratch. It just makes a wonderful difference.

In today’s pinwheel recipe, I used sour cream as the only dairy source within the bread. And it worked out wonderfully!

Pesto Pinwheels

1/4 cup warm water
2 teaspoons yeast
1/2 teaspoon sugar
8 ounces sour cream
8 ounces water
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups white flour
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
Approximately 1 more cup of white flour
Home-made pesto, without cheese
Grated Parmesan
Chopped walnuts, optional

Heat the water in a large bowl until you can hold your finger in it. It shouldn’t be any hotter or cooler. Add the yeast and sprinkle it with the sugar. Let it sit for 5 minutes. Give the mixture a stir, then place the bowl in a warm place for another five minutes. The mixture will have doubled in volume, at least. If it doesn’t, you might have some issues, see note, at bottom.

Meanwhile, place the sour cream in a small bowl and add the water. Gently whisk the mixture together. Then microwave it slowly just until it’s warm.

When the yeast mixture has doubled, add the sour cream mixture, the olive oil, and salt.

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Then add 1 1/2 cups of flour.

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Whisk up the mixture. It will be like thick pancake batter.

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Place the bowl in a warm place. I use a warming oven that actually has a “proof” setting. After about one hour it will look like this:

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Whisk the mixture and then add 1 1/2 cups of whole wheat flour. The mixture will be slightly thicker than before. Place the bowl in the same warm place for at least one more hour. If your warm place is not a moist area, then cover your bowl with a damp towel first.

It will look like this after the second rising.

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Using the last cup of flour, turn out the dough onto your work space, and knead away until the dough is nice and smooth. Form the dough into a ball and let it sit for at least five minutes. This will insure that you can roll it out.

Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees. And also grease a cookie sheet or jelly-roll pan.

Using a rolling pin, first flatten the ball of dough, then gently work it into a rectangle just like you would if you were making cinnamon rolls. Mine was approximately 16″ by 9″.

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Then slather the dough with pesto. Then sprinkle on the finely grated Parmesan. You could also add chopped walnuts if you’d like.

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Roll up the dough lengthwise.

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Remove the ends, about an inch on each side, because they never look good. Then make approximately 1 1/2″ crosswise slices and place them cut side down on the cookie sheet. Continue with the remaining dough. I made ten pinwheels.

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Pinch the end of the dough together with another piece of dough to close up the pinwheel. They’re prettier if they don’t open up.

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Bake them for 20 minutes.

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They should be golden brown and smell really good!

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note: If you’re sure you have good yeast, then there was most likely something wrong with the water temperature. To play it safe, I always rinse the bowl I’m going to use with hot water, because a cold bowl will cool off the water detrimentally, no matter how perfect its temperature is. Alternatively, water too hot will also kill the yeast. Yeast isn’t very expensive, especially if you buy it in bulk. I have always kept mine in the freezer and it continues to work. So throw out the yeasty water and start over. If it’s your only package of yeast, warm the mixture ever so slightly and see if you can get it to grow. If not, sorry.