Red and Green Pull Apart Bread

by Pamela

pull apart bread, whole wheat bread recipe, breadsticks, how to make bread

By now that cinnamon pull apart bread has been done to death, hasn’t it? Besides, it’s getting to be Christmas and not only do we have mass quantities of sweets to make (and eat) there’s also a lot of parties to be attended and hosted. I realize that making a loaf of bread probably isn’t high on your party checklist, but I think this one should be. This festive pull apart bread is a fantastic substitute for those dull, flavorless breadsticks that seem to pop up everywhere like that ridiculous Elf on a Shelf thing.

What are two of the most popular colors this time of year? Red and Green. Doesn’t it seem like we try really hard to incorporate those colors into anything and everything? The most obvious application of these colors, beyond the ugly holiday sweater, is on cookies. It’s pretty much a no-brainer…and totally easy to do. A little slather of icing and a whole lotta sugar shakin’ and you’ve got the requisite red and green goin’ on.

But seeing as how I like a good challenge, I wanted to work red and green into something savory (and not just a bowl of lettuce with some tomatoes or pomegranate arils sprinkled on it). So when Hodgson Mill sent me a box of flours, I immediately knew what I was going to make – Christmas pull apart bread.

How To Make Bread - A Savory Pull Apart Bread

So how do you make a loaf of bread Christmasy? It’s all about the red and green. And yes, you could easily go crazy making red and green sugar cinnamon bread but why? Nope, the red and green in this bread comes from red tomato pesto and green basil pesto. Going back to your kindergarten color class, you’ve already figured out that I didn’t mix the two pesto’s together, or it would be a pretty gnarly shade of brown. By brushing each layer with one or the other pesto, you get a pretty red and green striped loaf of bread. Top it off with some (almost) white Parmesan cheese and you’ve pretty much got the Christmas palate covered in one dish (including the gold).

To up the “healthy” quotient a bit, this pull apart bread was made with whole wheat flour. Don’t freak out…it’s not heavy like a brick or tastes like a chunk of sawdust. Instead of just using only all purpose flour in the recipe, I mixed half of the AP with half whole wheat flour. Yes, a whole wheat bread recipe you’ll actually like!

Christmas Pull Apart Bread

Now, if you’ve never made a loaf of bread before (banana bread recipes don’t really count for this) this is a great recipe to start with. Learning how to make bread can be fun and frustrating at the same time. This one’s pretty easy and you get to be a little creative with how the finished product will look. There is a bit of kneading involved (here’s a great no knead bread recipe), but nothing that will have you breaking a sweat or wishing you spent more time working out your arms though.

So cross those breadsticks off your grocery list and make a nice warm loaf of this Christmas pull apart bread. You’ll really be glad you did, and so will everyone else when you take it to those upcoming holiday potlucks and dinner parties.

Better Than Breadsticks Pull Apart Bread

Now for the best part! Hodgson Mill is doing a 25 day giveaway this month. Just visit their 25 Days of Grain Holiday contest page and you could win your choice of whole grain OR gluten free products. (Yes, they have gluten free products too.) In the meantime, to help you with your holiday baking, they’ve also got a coupon for you. Click here and you can print off a coupon for $1 off a bag of Hodgson Mill flour or cornmeal.

One more thing…they’ve also been kind enough to offer me a gift pack of whole grain or gluten free products to give away to one of you. Nice huh? Just leave me a comment below telling me what your all time favorite baked good is for the holidays. What is it? Bread? A cake? Cookies? Pie? And for a second entry, you can tweet: Win a @HodgsonMillInc gift pack of whole grain or gluten free goodness from @MyMansBelly at #GRAINholiday. Just leave the url of your post in the comments. Contest closes at midnight PST December 25, 2013.

And to quell the peeps over at the FCC. Hodgson Mill sent me a box of flours and gingerbread mix.

Red and Green Pull Apart Bread
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
This savory pull apart bread recipe combines tomato and basil pesto for a pretty and delicious substitute for boring breadsticks.
Recipe type: Bread
Cuisine: American
Serves: 6-8
  • For the Bread
  • ¼ Cup Water
  • 1 Packet (2¼ Teaspoons) Yeast
  • 1½ Cups Hodgson Mill All Purpose Organic Unbleached Flour
  • 1½ Cups Hodgson Mill White Whole Wheat Flour
  • ¼ Cup Sugar
  • ½ Teaspoon Salt
  • 2 Ounces Unsalted Butter (about 4 tablespoons)
  • ⅓ Cup Whole Milk
  • 2 Large Eggs (room temperature)
  • For the Filling
  • ¼ - ½ Cup Basil Pesto (oil drained off)
  • ¼ - ½ Cup Tomato Pesto (oil drained off)
  • Grated Parmesan Cheese
  1. Activate the yeast by heating the water to 105 - 115 degrees Farenheit and then sprinkling the yeast into the water. Set it aside.
  2. In a large bowl (like the bowl of your stand mixer) mix the flours, sugar and salt together. (I use a whisk to make sure everything is blended really well.)
  3. Then remove 1 cup of the flour mixture and set aside.
  4. Whisk the eggs in a small bowl and set aside.
  5. Melt the butter into the milk in a small pan, over medium heat.
  6. Remove from heat and let cool to 115 - 125 degrees Farenheit.
  7. Pour the milk mixture into the bowl of dry ingredients along with the yeast and eggs.
  8. Use the dough hook to mix the dough together. Gradually add in that cup of flour you had set aside earlier and mix that in.
  9. Lightly grease a large bowl with butter.
  10. Remove the dough from the mixing bowl (it's going to be kind of sticky) and gently work it into a smooth ball.
  11. Drop the dough into the greased bowl and cover the top of the bowl with plastic wrap and place a towel over the top of that.
  12. Place the bowl in a warm place and let it sit for an hour. During that time, the dough should double in size.
  13. Lightly flour the counter and knead the dough for 5 minutes then let the dough rest for 5 minutes (cover it with the towel again).
  14. While the dough is resting, lightly grease (with butter) and flour a 9"x5"x3" (or close to those measurements) loaf pan.
  15. Lightly flour the counter and roll out the dough until you have a 12"x20" rectangle.
  16. Cut the dough (across the short width) into 6 equal strips. (A pizza cutter is perfect for this.)
  17. Spoon, and spread, the drained basil pesto on 3 of the dough strips and spoon, and spread, the drained tomato pesto on the 3 remaining strips.
  18. Grate Parmesan cheese onto the strips. You can go a little crazy or be conservative with the cheese.
  19. Stack the strips on top of one another (you can either alternate the strips or keep the red/green pesto strips stacked together).
  20. Cut the stack into 6 equal squares. Use a large knife for this.
  21. Drop the stack of squares into the loaf pan. I alternated stacks of red and green.
  22. Cover the pan with a towel and place in a warm place to sit for 30-45 minutes. The dough should double in size again.
  23. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Farenheit.
  24. Grate more cheese on top of the dough and slide pan into the oven.
  25. Bake for 30 minutes or until the top of the dough is pretty well browned. Light golden brown doesn't work with this. It's got to be brown (not burnt). When it's just light golden brown on will still be raw in the center.
  26. Remove from oven and top with more grated cheese if you like.
  27. Let cool for 20 minutes before sliding a knife around the edges and removing from pan.
  28. Serve.
This recipe can be made without whole wheat flour for a really light texture. The amount of pesto you use is up to you. Just make sure that the pesto is well drained so that there isn't a lot of excess oil in the bread.

Welcome to My Man's Belly! Leave me a comment and let me know what you think about the site or if there's a recipe you'd like to see here. Have a great day.


lauren December 10, 2013 at 12:20 pm

Thank you for this recipe. I am slowly compiling recipes for my Christmas dinner and this one has certainly made the list. It sounds delicious. I’m new to baking and have a few fundamental questions:
If I were to use just AP Flour, would I use 3 cups?
If I use the 50/50 like you recommend, does it have to be white whole wheat flour?

Messing with flour in these recipes scares me b/c of the time invested. I appreciate your thoughts. THANK YOU AND HAPPY HOLIDAYS!! 🙂

Pamela December 10, 2013 at 12:44 pm

Hi Lauren, thanks for the compliment.

Yes, you would use 3 cups of flour if you all AP flour. For your 2nd ?…I used white whole wheat flour because that is what Hodgson Mill sent me. You could use another type of whole wheat flour, but depending on how it has been milled would affect the density and coarseness of your final bread. I have not made this recipe with any of the gluten free flours, so I couldn’t speak to the final results. 🙂 I hope that helps. Have a great dinner!

John@Kitchen Riffs December 8, 2013 at 10:33 am

Really good recipe. I was expecting something super sweet, and am delighted to get savory instead. Love the basil and tomato pesto fillings! This is inspired – thanks.

Pamela December 8, 2013 at 1:54 pm

Thanks John,
I thought we had enough sweet stuff coming at us this time of year. I’m always looking for something to replace those boring rolls and breadsticks. Since this already has the pesto in it, you don’t even need spreads or dipping stuff for it. 🙂

Maureen | Orgasmic Chef December 7, 2013 at 8:47 pm

I thought this was going to be another sweet bread and I made cinnamon rolls yesterday and I’ve still got butter stuck to the roof of my mouth.

I love this bread and want to make it today!

Pamela December 8, 2013 at 1:55 pm

Hi Maureen,
I’m already burned out on the sweet stuff and we’re only in the first week of December. It’s gonna be a loooooong month. 😉

Jessica D December 7, 2013 at 3:30 pm

I love baking cookies during the holidays!

Kathy December 7, 2013 at 1:29 pm

If I HAD to chose my favorite holiday baked good, I’d pick my mom’s pecan tartlets with a cream cheese crust. But it’s a toss-up with her Mexican wedding cookies.

Emily December 6, 2013 at 11:36 pm

This recipe looks great! Making note of it for a savory option over the holidays, for sure!
My favorite holiday recipe: my sister’s drool inducing nutmeg logs!

Jenny Hartin December 6, 2013 at 7:46 pm

I tweeted. I swear. I don’t know how to paste my URL from my tablet.

Jenny Hartin December 6, 2013 at 7:44 pm

Holiday baking for me is cheesecakes for everyone but I’m enjoying learning all about bread baking lately.

Belinda @zomppa December 6, 2013 at 3:46 pm

This make me want to reach into my screen! Should be a must have for every holiday.

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