A leavened, enriched dough is the perfect starting point to get creative in the kitchen. Of course, baking the dough straight away without any embellishment would be delicious enough—think brioche!—but it’s also a foundation that can be taken in myriad directions. I’ve folded, braided, cut, twisted, balled, laminated, and now knotted the basic dough, each yielding a completely different result. And the final shape isn’t simply an aesthetic affectation. It also serves to modify the final eating experience. In some cases, like with these savory pesto knots, it is a way to trap a delicious filling between layers of the tender, buttery dough.
Why twist and knot the dough?
When baking, the structure and shape of the treat is almost as important as the ingredients and process. Take, for example, a baguette, with its long and slender shape, compared to something like a boule, which is round and hefty. The smaller diameter of the former results in bread that bakes faster, as the oven’s heat penetrates through the dough in less time, resulting in a thin, crispy crust—the hallmark of a good baguette. Conversely, a round boule takes longer to bake due to its increased diameter and thickness, meaning the crust ends up thicker and heartier.