Pesto Flower Pull-Apart Bread + Homemade Wild Herb Pesto (vegan)

 reading time: 6 min

Earlier this year I shared a recipe for a wintry snowflake/star-shaped cinnamon pull-apart bread, and today we are looking at its sunny cousin: the pesto flower pull-apart bread!

It uses the same twisting technique, but as the name suggests, its shape is meant to resemble a flower (or a sun in some interpretations), and instead of the cinnamon/butter/sugar mixture we used in the winter variation, this one is filled with savoury pesto. In our case, a mix of green pesto (homemade wild herb pesto) and red pesto (homemade sun-dried tomato pesto) – but feel free to get both from the store instead, if you prefer, or only use one kind of pesto for your bread.

This recipe is just the perfect pastry to bring along for a summer picnic or barbecue, or any type of potluck or get-together where you tear and share your food. The great thing is that you don't need to cut anything to serve. Everyone can simply pick off their own "flower petal" to eat 🙂

Quick, easy and delicious, this pesto flower bread is also a great one to make with your kids. (They can also help with picking the wild herbs, which is also fun!)

PESTO FLOWER PULL-APART BREAD with wild herb pesto

Preparation time: 1 hour (+ 1 hour rising time)
Main ingredients: flour, herbs, olive oil, yeast
difficulty level: easy
serves: 6-12
suitable for: vegan, lactose-free, gluten-free, soy-free, low-sodium


500 g spelt flour (I use the 1050 type)

1/2 tsp sugar
2 tsp salt
300 ml water, lukewarm
1 cube (40 g) of fresh yeast
3 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

100 g vegan green pesto (see below)
100 g vegan red pesto (see below)

Green Wild Herb Pesto:
150 g wild herbs (e. g. wild garlic, garlic mustard, goutweed, creeping charlie
, dandelion leaves, sorrel, narrow leaf plantain, chickweed, stinging nettle, dead nettle, watercress, carrot greens ...)
2 garlic cloves
200 ml extra virgin olive oil
50 g sunflower seeds, pine seeds or walnuts (I used
roasted walnuts)
2-3 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp lemon zest
4 small soft dates
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp nutritional yeast
3 tbsp vegan grated cheese

Red Tomato Pesto:
130 g sun-dried tomatoes in oil
1-2 garlic cloves
a small handful of fresh oregano or basil
40 g
sunflower seeds, pine seeds or walnuts (I used roasted sunflower seeds)
1 tbsp tomato paste

100 ml oil (from the sun-dried tomatoes)
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
(optional) 1 tbsp spicy Ayvar


To make the pesto:

Place all ingredients of each pesto into a bowl or food processor. Using an immersion blender or a food processor with an S-shaped blade, pulse until you reach a slightly chunky consistency. Or blend if you prefer a smooth pesto.

Taste-test to see if it's salty / oily / flavourful enough, and adjust to your liking.

Transfer each pesto into clean jars, and store in the fridge covered with a thin layer of oil. It will keep for 1–2 weeks. Or store in the freezer for several months.

To make the dough:

In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, sugar, and salt. Whisk to combine.

To a separate bowl, add fresh yeast and lukewarm water. Gently stir to dissolve.

Slowly pour the yeast/water mixture into the mixing bowl, and stir to combine. Lastly, add olive oil to the mix.

Use your clean hands or an electric mixer with a dough hook to knead the mixture vigorously for a couple of minutes until the dough is very soft and tender, almost "velvety", and doesn't stick to your hands any more.

If it is too sticky, add a bit more flour. If it is too dry and crumbly, add a splash of water.
Knead the dough into a smooth ball, then cover the mixing bowl with a clean kitchen towel and place in a warm spot to rise for 60 minutes.

If you are preparing the dough a day in advance, store the dough overnight in the fridge instead, then continue with the recipe in the morning, giving the dough a chance to come to room temperature.
While the dough is proofing, prepare the filling. Make the pesto, if you haven't already – or use store-bought instead. Measure out 100 g of each pesto (red and green). Set aside.

To assemble:

Once the dough has risen and doubled in size, lightly dust a clean counter top with flour.

Transfer the dough to the floured surface and knead it again, until it's smooth and elastic again. Roll the dough into a thick sausage and divide into 3 equal pieces. Shape each piece into a ball.

Roll the first ball into a circle
roughly 10–12 inches / 25–30 cm in diameter with the help of a rolling pin. You can use a dining plate or a springform pan as a guide. Place the circle on a parchment lined baking sheet. Spread about 100 g of green pesto over the dough, leaving a finger-width boarder around the edge.

Set the baking sheet aside, and roll out another ball of dough into a second circle the same size. Place it on top of the first, and apply a generous coat of about 100 g of red pesto.

Repeating the process with the third layer of dough which you place on top and leave it bare.

Don't worry if the circles don't line up exactly because the dough is quite forgiving.

Place a small cup or jar in the centre of the dough stack and gently press down to leave a light imprint.

Leaving the centre circle intact, use a sharp knife to cut the layered dough into quarters, making sure to cut through all the layers. Then cut each quarter into 3 equal parts, resulting in a total of 12 sections.

Being very careful and using two hands, pick up two sections of dough
that are next to each other,
and twist them in the opposite direction, so away from each other. Twist each section 2 times, making sure not to pull to hard on the dough. On the last time, pinch the ends together to seal, and tuck under. This will give the bread its flower/sun-like shape.

(See photos above for visual reference! These were taken on a different occasion when we used a spinach/tomato/olive filling and only did 5 "rays" instead of 6, but the twisting technique is the same!)

Repeat with the remaining pairs of dough wedges to create a flower pattern.

Preheat the oven to 375 °F / 190 °C.

You may also cover the dough again with the clean kitchen towel to rise until the oven is preheating. Before baking, you can lightly brush the dough with a bit of olive oil.

Bake the bread in the preheated oven at 375 °F / 190 °C for about 25-30 minutes, or until the top starts turning golden brown.

Remove bread from oven, and transfer to a wire rack.

Cool for at least 10 minutes before serving.

it as an appetiser, snack or as part of a buffet!

The pesto pull-apart bread will keep for 2–3 days when stored in an airtight container at room temperature. Freeze for longer storage.

- Any leftover pesto is great to eat with pasta, grilled veggies, scrambled tofu, on pizza, on bread such as fluffy focaccia (with a few slices of tomato), on burgers, in a buddha bowl, or even to make a salad dressing.
- If you don't like pesto, try a sweet version like our cinnamon snowflake, or use a vegan chocolate spread as filling. (In that case, add less salt to the dough!)
- You could also go more into a pizza direction with the filling, adding olives, tomato sauce and vegan grated cheese.
 - I could also imagine making a variation of this pull-apart bread using our wild herb & garlic butter. Just have fun with it!

General Foraging Guidelines:
  • You should be 100 % certain you are identifying the correct plant. If you do not know what it is, DO NOT eat it! Do not pick if you're in doubt!

  • Don't harvest from contaminated areas such as busy roadsides, near industrial facilities, where dogs pee, along the edges of agricultural fields, old landfill sites etc.

  • Be mindful & harvest sustainably. Only pick from areas that have a plentiful supply, and never more than 1/4 of a plant, ideally only about 5 %.

  • Leave the harvesting area litter-free.

Looking for more foraged recipes? Check out some of my herby favourites:

Wild Herb & Garlic Butter (vegan)
Wild Garlic Nettle Strudel (vegan)

Homemade Ramson Gnocchi (vegan)