Wednesday, 5 May 2010

Handmade beetroot bread

Making bread is incredibly therapeutic. The lovely soft texture of the dough is great to pummel and you get a 10-minute work out in the kitchen - perfect. The bread making process is not laborious (I promise!) and you can choose to add seeds, herbs, grated vegetables or a whole host of other flavours to your dough.

Beetroot is roughly in season from May to October in the UK.  Some beetroot breads can be made with a starter dough (dough that has been mixed 24 hours in advance and allowed to ferment). As this recipe is made without a starter dough, it is quick and easy to make. It is great to eat with a hunk of cheese or a bowl of soup.

Makes two loaves

750g strong white flour
350mls tepid water
250g cooked beetroot, grated
20g fresh yeast, or one sachet of dried yeast
1 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
1 egg, beaten to glaze
caraway seeds

1. Dissolve the yeast with sugar in a little of the water. Allow the mixture to become frothy. Add the yeast mix to the rest if the water.
2. Mix the flour and salt together in a bowl.  Pour in the water and yeast mixture and mix the dough together by hand.
3. Sprinkle a work surface with some flour and knead the dough. This process is important as it is stretching the gluten. After 7-10 minutes the dough will stop feeling sticky and will be all stretchy. The dough is ready when you it can stretch to a very thin skin without breaking.
4. Oil a bowl and put the dough into it. Cover it with oiled cling film or a cloth and put it somewhere warm to rise for one to two hours.
5. When the dough has doubled in size, return it to the work surface and knead once more making sure that you knock all of the puffiness out of the dough.
6. Shape the bread into loaves. You can make round loaves or bloomer shaped loaves (oval). Put the shaped bread onto a greased baking sheet, cover and leave to prove for 45 minutes, again in a warm place.
7.  Preheat your oven to 230 C/450 F/Gas mark 8.
8. When the loaves have risen, brush the tops with egg wash and sprinkle with caraway seeds. Then make a series of knife cuts across each loaf, on a diagonal about 1cm deep.
9. Bake in the oven for 25-30 minutes. To check if the bread is cooked, turn the loaf upside down and tap the bottom. When it is cooked it should sound hollow.
10. When cooked allow the bread to cool on a rack to allow the crust to form properly and the structure to hold inside before slicing.

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