30g fresh basil leaves, washed and dried 1 large clove garlic 60ml good olive oil (virgin or extra virgin) 1/8 tspn salt 45g freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Combine basil, garlic and salt in a food processor, and blend them together; alternatively, pound them in a pestle and mortar. With the precessor still going, dribble in the oil, and blend until smooth. Add the cheese, and combine well.
145ml (1/4 pint) lukewarm water 1 sachet active dry yeast 115g wholemeal flour 115g unbleached white flour 1 tspn salt
Disolve the yeast in the water in a large mixing bowl, and leave for ten minutes. (The water should be temperature-neutral to your finger). Stir in the pesto, and mix well. Mix the salt with the wholemeal flour, and fold this into the mixture. Put the white flour onto the bench, and turn out the sticky dough mixture onto it. Flour your hands, sprinkle some of the white flour into the top and sides of the mixture, then work the flour into the dough with your fingers, then palms, using a kneading action as the dough takes up more flour, and becomes firmer. Knead for 10-15 minutes, until the dough is elastic and silky in texture. Shape the dough into a ball, and place it in a clean oiled bowl; cover with a damp cloth or clingfilm, and leave it rise in an evenly warm place for about 1.5 hours, or until it has doubled in bulk.
Knock back the dough with your fist, then turn it out onto a very lightly floured bench and knead it briefly. Shape into a round or oval loaf, and place it on an oiled baking tray. Cover, and let it rise for another 40-60 minutes, or until doubled in size.
While the loaf is still rising, pre-heat the oven to 230°C. Slash the top of the load with a sharp knife, brush with milk, and place it in the oven. Turn the oven down to 200°C. Bake for 40 minutes, or until the loaf is a deep brown colour, and sounds hollow when tapped. Remove from the oven and cool on a wire rack.
For a crisp crust, brush the loaf with water, rather than milk, and spray the oven (and cooking loaf) with water three times in the first ten minutes of cooking.