When I started out on this baking course, I was not expecting the responsibility of a new family member.  This guy required as much attention as my needy bulldog – two daily feedings, fancy organic ingredients and a nice warm bed.  I am of course talking about my sourdough culture.  When I was feeding my culture, it seemed like a waste to throw out the leftovers – especially when it had developed such a good flavour.  So after many a breakfast made better with sourdough crumpets, barmbrack and other fruity loaves, I thought I would go back to basics and make some sourdough bread.

One of my favourite things to have sourdough with is borsch (or even Zurek, a white borsch soup, also made with a sour starter), so what would be better than combining the two and making beetroot sourdough?

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Borsch – one of my favourite winter meals.

After vetting many recipes I came across Sourdough.com which was a informative community blog about all things sourdough, where I found a good beetroot sourdough recipe.  The recipe had several bread techniques involved which made the process lengthy, but this added to the complexity of the flavour so it was certainly worthwhile! (see link below for the original recipe).

Beetroot Sourdough – Ingredients

  • Strong white bread flour – 425g
  • Beetroot puree – 220g
  • Starter 100% – 150g
  • Water – 190g
  • Salt – 10g

Firstly, prepare the beetroot puree: lightly coat three medium beets in olive oil and wrap in tin foil, then roast in the oven at 430f for one hour.  Leave the beets to cool for 20 mins before removing the skins under running cold water, then either mash or puree in a blender – depending on if you like the chunks or not.

Given the amount of moisture in the dough, I opted for a stiffer starter (consisting of 100g organic flour, 60g water and 40g culture) which I fed the night before.

The next morning, I mixed all the ingredients on the slowest mixer setting until just combined, and then left the dough to autolyse in the bowl for 20 mins.

 

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Mixing the dough together. It’s very vibrant even at this stage.

Then I gave the dough a stretch and fold and moved it to a tub large enough for it to expand to at least three times the size.  Repeat the stretch and fold every half an hour, for a total of 90 minutes.

After the last I had a deliciously smooth, albeit brightly coloured, dough.  I then rounded the dough and left it to bulk prove for 5 hours.  Then knock back the dough, round it again and leave it for its final proof of two hours.

Finally the bread is ready to bake!  As I am lacking a steam oven, I opted to Dutch bake the dough inside a cast iron pan that I had in the oven (set at 440f) for the final half hour of my proof.

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The incredible purple bread.

I immediately placed the dough in the centre of the hot pan and baked with the lid on for 15 mins, before removing the lid for the final 20 mins of baking.

The result of the 9 hour wait, was well worth it!  The bread was delicious – despite its bright purple start, the bread was brown inside but with a slightly pink tinge to the crust.

I tried this bread three times – all with different results.  The first time, the beets were only partially cooked, as I had read that that was the way to go to retain the bright beetroot colour in the baked bread.  This certainly was the case, however the flavour didn’t have the wow factor that the colour did – it left the bitter, earthy raw beetroot aftertaste in your mouth which wasn’t for me.  Secondly, I tried replacing the water with beetroot juice for added oompf… but sadly, there was no oompf as the dough was too dense, resulting in an inedible doughy bread, that did however, have a beautiful pink crust!  The third attempt hit the nail on the head. I baked the beetroots for longer, so they made a silky puree but with a delicious intense flavour, which even improved over the next few days.

If you want to have a go at making your own flavoured sourdough, these links should help you on your adventure:

  • Beetroot sourdough recipe – Link
  • Sourdough recipes and ideas – Link
  • Fifty sourdough recipe ideas – Link

Until next time,

Melissa

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