Pistachio Bread
May 8, 2011

by stacy
Published on: May 8, 2011
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“This is a rather sweet bread–actually, more like a coffee cake, of the type once called a ‘race track’–flavored with delicious, beautifully green pistachio nuts.”
-James Beard, Beard on Bread

My family is visiting over Mother’s Day weekend, so I wanted to make a company-worthy bread.  I settled on making Pistachio Bread as a sweet dessert bread to have after dinner on Saturday.

Here are the ingredients:

Pistachio Bread Ingredients

Because I’m cheap, I bought the in-shell pistachio nuts that were on sale and then shelled them all myself.  The eight-ounce bag of in-shell pistachios yielded exactly the one cup of shelled, chopped nuts I needed for the recipe.

The bread began like a typical loaf–I mixed the ingredients together, kneaded the dough, and let it rise.  After the first rising, things got a bit more complicated.  I rolled the dough out into a rectangle, brushed it with melted butter (2 tablespoons, rather than the 4 tablespoons called for by the recipe, was more than sufficient), and sprinkled the dough with sugar and the chopped pistachios.

Pistachio Bread Dough

Then I rolled the dough up and joined the ends to make a circle.  The next step was to “Slice two-thirds of the way down into the ring, at 3/4-inch intervals.  Twist each slice to the right so that the interior of the slice is now facing upwards.”  The picture illustrating this step wasn’t very clear, and I couldn’t find any pictures of “race track” coffee cakes on the Internet to illuminate the process.  The finished result looked a bit lopsided after its second rising, since I didn’t roll the dough into a perfect rectangle (how does one do that, anyway?) or spread the pistachio nuts far enough to the edges.

Pistachio Bread After Second Rising

A close up:

Pistachio Bread After Second Rising

After only twenty minutes in the oven, the bread was nicely browned and hollow-sounding.  I let it cool completely before wrapping in foil and serving the next day for dessert.

Pistachio Bread

The verdict?  It was good, but not quite what I expected.  Previous Beard recipes tended to be on the sweet side, such as Banana Bread and Raw Apple Bread.  I expected a bread that Beard refers to as “rather sweet” to taste more sugary.  However, the salted pistachio nuts cut down on the sweetness overload, and the bread dough itself didn’t have as much sugar as I would have expected.  However, I can’t complain–because it wasn’t too sweet, the leftover bread made a delicious breakfast on Sunday morning.

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