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Novelty breads – made with courgettes, pumpkin, beetroot – often make me wonder if there’s actually any benefit, flavourwise, in adding vegetables to what basically should be flour, water and yeast. Some people think vegetables belong with the main course, not with baking.
It’s quite simple really – raw veg added to bread dough create moisture so naturally you’ll use less water or other liquid. They make for a moist loaf generally, but I find that breads like that don’t keep very well – go figure. Moist but soon stale. Now flavour? I went for beetroot, not least because I have an abundant crop in the garden, but also because I thought the sweetness would come through.
And because of the colour, naturally.
It would seem that it’s all about the colour! Admittedly, this loaf hasn’t come out quite as red as I was hoping. The raw grated beetroot does add a lovely flavour and moistness but – as many recipes recommend – cooked beetroot purée might give out deeper crimson hue.
It’s not all about the colour though. The bread tastes lovely, quite like made with brown flour. It’s moist as already said and slices beautifully. We’ll see if it keeps…
The basic recipe was that for a flash loaf, courtesy of Dan Lepard, but I didn’t make it quite in a flash and modified it quite a bit.
beetroot breadServings: one loafTime: about 2 hours
- 400g strong white bread flour
- 125g wholemeal flour
- 2 tsp salt
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 250g very warm water
- 175g raw beetroot finely grated
- 2 tsp fast action or 15g fresh yeast
- 2 tsp caraway seeds
- a handful of raisins
- 2 tbsp sunflower seeds
1.Place the flours, salt, caraway, raisins, sunflower and the oil in a large bowl or in a standing mixer with the dough hook attachment.
2.Put the grated beetroot in another bowl, pour over the warm water, add the yeast and mix well. Add this to the flours and mix into a soft dough.
3.Knead by hand or use the dough hook on your mixer at 10 minute intervals (knead for a while, then let it rest for a few minutes) until it’s smooth and stops sticking as much to your hands as it did at the start – or bounces off the sides of the standing mixer bowl. Cover and prove in a warm place for an hour.
4.When appreciably risen, turn out the dough onto wet surface, stretch and fold onto itself a few times, then shape into a ball.
5.Prepare a banneton or a bowl lined with well-floured cloth, dip the loaf in wholemeal flour and place in the banneton seam side up. Cover or place in an inflated plastic bag (just blow into it and tie the ends) and leave to prove for about 30 minutes.
6.In the meantime preheat a clay cloche, baking stone or a heavy baking sheet in the oven set to 220C/425F/gas 7. Tip the loaf (it should have risen by half at the most) onto the preheated cloche bottom, stone or a tray and slash the top in several places - I could not resist cutting a CF into it...
7.If using the cloche, place the lid on for the first 20 minutes of baking, then bake uncovered for further 20 minutes. If baking on a stone or tray, spray the oven liberally with water and bake for 40-50 minutes.