Friday, December 16, 2016

All Is Bright....With The Babes

I know it seems sorta crazy to be making a new and complicated (sort of) bread when I'm also baking up dozens of cookies for the Christmas holidays. Still, this is one bread that I wanted to make the moment I saw the photo of it. Who can resist a bright magenta bread? It is even harder to resist when you realize that the lovely color comes from a puree of beets.

This month Cathy of Bread Experience challenged the Bread Baking Babes to make a braided beet bread.  She created her own recipe. Cathy said, " I chose the challah formula from the Bread Baker's Apprentice and converted it to sourdough as well as adding the beets.  I paid careful attention to the hydration." 

I used some lovely organic beets which were so fresh that the greens attached to them stayed unwilted for days even in my warm kitchen. I also chose smallish beets and they were tender and delicious.

I decided to go with a savory version instead of a sweet one, so I roasted the beets in a foil packet that included fresh cloves of garlic, fresh rosemary and a little olive oil. My kitchen smelled so good while they were roasting. After they cooled I peeled them and used a blender and some water to puree them. I added a couple cloves of the roasted garlic, too. Love roasted garlic!

I also decided to make braided rolls instead of a braided loaf. Since I wasn't entirely sure that my sourdough starter was robust, I also added some dry instant yeast to the flour mixture. Perhaps I added too much because the oven spring turned my nice braided rolls into really large rolls. I gave a couple of the rolls to friends and they thanked me for the "Fluffy, purple, hippo bagels - wonderful". I think the hippo part is because they ended up oversized from all that oven spring. The outside of the baked rolls were still that bright magenta, but the insides were a pretty, deep salmon pink.

 Best of all they were delicious. You couldn't really taste the beets, but you could taste the sourdough. I think the beets amped up the sourdough experience somehow.

Thank you Cathy for choosing this great recipe. It's always a challenge working with fresh beets unless you like a magenta kitchen, but it was worth some wiping up to experience this super bread. I especially appreciate having the grams measurements. Weighing the beets makes so much more sense than using a measuring cup.

Become a beet bread buddy! Make your own version and email a description of your bake and a photo to Cathy by Dec. 29th to get your Buddy Badge and to be included in the round-up.

Check out what the other Babes have baked this month, too.
A Messy Kitchen - Kelly -
Bake My Day - Karen -
Blog From Our Kitchen - Elizabeth -
Bread Experience - Cathy -
Judy's Gross Eats - Judy -
My Kitchen in Half Cups - Tanna  -
Notitie van Lien - Lien  -
and our queen of the round-up:
Thyme for Cooking - Katie  -

Here is the recipe from Cathy, altered a bit by me (look at how big they are!):

Sourdough Beet Bread Formula

425 grams bread flour + 100 grams reserved for kneading (I needed a bit more)
128 grams sourdough  (I used a  100% hydration sourdough, so I needed to decrease the water to 100 grams.) 
3 tablespoons sugar (I omitted the sugar)
1 teaspoon fine sea salt (I increased to 2 teaspoons)
1/2 teaspoon dry yeast
2 tablespoons oil
2 large eggs, slightly beaten
2 large egg yolks, slightly beaten
155 grams water (see note by sourdough)
3 beets, roasted (final weight 106 grams) and pureed with the 100 grams of water
1 teaspoon vanilla, optional (I omitted the vanilla)
Poppy seeds, optional (I used mixed seeds) and one egg beaten with 1 teaspoon water for wash

Puree the beets in a blender, adding the water gradually.  Depending on how much you roast the beats, you may not need all of the water.  I added 75 grams during blending and the remaining 25 grams to wash down the sides of the blender.  I didn't want to waste any of the beautiful color.

Mix the flour (reserving 100 grams), yeast and salt together in a large bowl.  In a separate bowl, mix the pureed beets, beaten eggs and egg yolks, and oil.  Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir slightly.  Add the sourdough on top and mix thoroughly.  Mix using a Danish dough whisk or wooden spoon.  You can use a mixer, which I did for the first try, but I think it got over mixed so I recommend doing it by hand so you can feel the dough.

Mix until all of the ingredients are incorporated and there are no bits of dry flour.  Let it rest for 30 minutes.  

Remove the mixture to a floured surface or you can continue doing this part in the mixing bowl.  Gradually add 75 - 100 grams of flour while kneading the dough.  It should become very supple and workable.  Resist the urge to add too much flour.  Unless you change the hydration of the sourdough, you shouldn't need too much more flour (although I did).

Clean out the bowl, or scrape it down really well. Shape the dough into a ball and place it back in the bowl. Cover with a kitchen towel.  Let it proof for 4 to 5 hours.  Perform a fold after the 1st hour, place back in the bowl. Repeat at the 2nd hour.  Let rest for 2 to 3 more hours.  Perform an additional fold if necessary.

After the bulk fermentation, divide the dough for braiding. Look at that color! Amazing that the baked rolls still retained some of that color.

Roll out the ropes for the braids, shape the braids and tuck the ends under.  For instructions for braided rolls see this post.

Place the braided rolls on a parchment-lined baking sheet and brush with egg wash (I did the egg wash only on the risen rolls).  Let them proof 1 to 1 1/2 hours, until they have grown to about 1 1/2 times their original size.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. (or 325 degrees F. for the double braid) and place the oven rack on the middle shelf. 

Brush the loaf again with egg wash and sprinkle the top with poppy seeds (I used a seed mix from King Arthur Flour).

Bake the loaf for 20 minutes, rotate the pan for even baking, then bake an additional 20 to 35 minutes depending on the size of the loaf. It should register 190 degrees in the center. The rolls bake in about 20 minutes total.

Transfer the loaf to a wire rack and let it cool for 1 hour before slicing.


  1. Oh my goodness! I can just smell the aroma in your kitchen as your "hippo" rolls were baking. I may have to try this again using roasted beets with garlic and rosemary. Yum! Love that oven spring!

  2. Wow, those were some happy knots! I only did the egg wash once too. Glad your friends got to enjoy them as well. :)

  3. Love the description of hippo rolls. They look delicious no matter the size. Back to cookies now?

  4. Oh, WOW. We're going to be traveling for the next week plus come Monday so we'll have to try these when we get back, but I am SO tempted!

  5. Love the addition of garlic. Your baked color is still so vibrant! I definitely think the beets enhanced the sourdough flavor in my loaves too.

  6. Yes it strikes me how can it be so intensely red out side and so mild on the inside.
    Hippo rolls, that is gorgeous as are the rolls.

  7. Your knots are so brilliantly red! Wow.

    Cookies!!! I'm supposed to make cookies! Thank you for the reminder, Elle.

  8. I forgot to say that I reduced the sugar slightly (and used honey instead) but the bread still ended up being quite savoury.

    Hahahahaha - judging from the formerly snow white tea towel I used for proofing the bread, it appears that we love a magenta kitchen.

  9. I really like your knot rolls, very pretty.
    Weighing is always better than scooping in my book.

  10. They look very free-form... works well with the lovely magenta color ;-)