Sourdough Beet Bread with Roasted Beet Hummus #TwelveLoaves

If patience is a virtue, then I am a fallen woman. I'm the one who's giving the hairy eyeball to the person with the bazillion coupons at the grocery store. The one who honks the horn at you before the light turns green (you've made many a hand gesture at me in response, haven't you?) The obnoxious little snot who whined, "Are we there yet? Are we there yet? Are we there yet?" as soon as the car pulled out of the driveway. The poster child for instant gratification. Which is why I'm as amazed as anyone that I've embraced a hobby like bread baking, where the motto is "Hurry Up and Wait." Maybe the meditation thing is working… Or maybe it's because the payoff for all that waiting is worth it. REALLY worth it. It certainly is with this beet bread. 

Beets. You either love 'em or you hate 'em. The poor unfortunate souls who hate 'em claim they taste like dirt. (Probably the same people who swear cilantro tastes like soap. Silly, silly people.) But even beet haters can embrace this bread because it really doesn't scream "BEETS!" at you. In fact, none of my official taste-testers could identify the mystery ingredient even though it does have a beet-y aroma. No dirt here. Instead, the beets give the bread a sweet, earthy flavor and a beautiful, deep, rich color. It was interesting to note that while the dough starts out as a bright pink, that shocking color fades as it bakes, leaving only a reddish ring around the crust—much like the smoke ring in BBQ. I've read that you can preserve the bright color by adding a small amount of citric acid to the dough, but for some reason, the thought of eating bright pink bread kind of freaked me out. This from a person who had no problem baking a black bread that really was BLACK. And I was okay with pink hummus. Go figure. But pink, brown or whatever, I couldn't get over how much I like this bread. I know bloggers are required by law to gush over every single post and declare it the Best. Thing. Ever. but I can honestly say—and I would never lie to you—this bread is right up there in my top five. Beet lover or beet hater…you owe it to yourself to give it a try. 

This sourdough beet bread is my contribution to the #TwelveLoaves February theme—Red, in celebration of National Heart Month, Valentine's Day and the Red Carpet (Oscar time). Check out the links below to see what good stuff the other TwelveLoafers came up with.

Sourdough Beet Bread

Ingredients

  • 325g bread flour
  • 100g whole wheat flour
  • 150g 100% hydration sourdough starter
  • 190g water
  • 220g roasted beet puree
  • 10g sea salt

Directions

  1. Put all the ingredients EXCEPT that salt into a large bowl. Mix together by hand until everything is incorporated (no dry flour remains) and the dough is a shaggy mass. Cover and let rest for about 30 minutes).
  2. Sprinkle the salt over the dough and work in by hand for 3–4 minutes. (Ken Forkish, my bread baking pretend boyfriend of Flour Water Salt Yeast fame, has some great videos on his site that illustrate this and other techniques.) Cover the bowl and let the dough ferment for 3 hours, with a stretch-and-fold at 30, 60, 90 and 120 minutes.
  3. At the end of the fermentation period, shape the dough and place in a floured proofing basket. Cover and place in the fridge for an overnight rise.
  4. The next day, remove the dough from the fridge and let rest a room temperature for about 60 minutes or more (see my notes). While the dough is resting, place a baking stone on the lower rack of your oven, with a heat-proof pan underneath. Preheat the oven to 450°F.
  5. When the dough is ready to bake (the finger dent test is a good indicator), turn it out onto a floured peel, transfer it to the baking stone, and throw a handful of ice cubes into the pan to create steam.
  6. Bake at 450° for 15 minutes, then lower the temperature to 430° and bake for an additional 35 minutes. The loaf will sound hollow when done.
  7. Cool on a wire rack.

Adapted from TXFarmer's blog on The Fresh Loaf

Beet Hummus

Ingredients

  • 1 15 oz. can chickpeas, drained (reserve liquid)
  • 2–3 small beets, roasted and peeled
  • juice of one lemon (or to taste)
  • 1–2 large cloves of garlic (or to taste)
  • 1/4 cup tahini
  • salt and pepper

Directions

  1. Drop the garlic cloves into a food processor or blender and pulse until finely chopped.
  2. Add the remaining ingredients and blend/process until smooth, scraping down as needed and adding reserved liquid as necessary until you achieve the desired consistency.

Notes

Roast the beets according to your preferred method. I bought semi-large-ish organic beets, trimmed and scrubbed 'em and cut them into 1" pieces, wrapped in foil and baked at 375°F for about 90 minutes or so, until they pierced easily with a fork.

Beets are kind of tough to puree smoothly. The first couple of times I made this bread, I tried pureeing them straight, just the beets, in my spiffy Magic Bullet. It took some banging and scraping and whatnot but eventually, I got something resembling a puree with lots of teeny beety pieces in it. Not that this was a BAD thing, but I wanted something smooth and piece-free. So next time I threw the beets and the water into the blender and blitzed the whole thing into a perfectly smooth mixture.

About the rise time before baking: The 60 minute rest before baking had me scratching my head because none of my breads were anywhere near ready by that time. In fact, there wasn't even any noticeable increase in size after the overnight rise. It's not the first time this has happened to me with a dough that has additions like purees and whatnot and I know I've bailed instead of waiting it out too many times to count—that impatient thing again. So I was determined to hang in there on this one. I waited. And waited. And waited. NINE HOURS, in fact, for the first one. Seriously. It's not like I was a Helicopter Baker or anything, standing over it and watching every second though. I had stuff to do so I let it do its thing and checked on it every once in a while until it was ready. Not a biggie. My next two bakes, thought, took four hours to rise, which is a little less intimidating, time-wise. The rise time definitely does seem to be a your-mileage-may-vary thing—obviously the 60 minutes noted in the original worked for some people—but however long it takes, it's absolutely, positively worth the wait. Trust me.

Hummus Notes: My hummuses (hummi?) are very much a little-bit-of-this, a-little-bit-of-that. Ingredients and amounts are a starting point. Like more garlic? Throw it in. More lemon? That too. (I love both so I go heavy.) Season and adjust to your heart's desire. If you're really bored, you can skin the chickpeas, which makes for a very smooth hummus. Just pinch the peas until the skin comes off. Not difficult but a little tedious.

#TwelveLoaves Bakes Red

#TwelveLoaves is a monthly bread baking party created by Lora from Cake Duchess and run with the help of Heather of All Roads Lead to the Kitchen, which runs smoothly with the help of our bakers.

This month we'll be baking breads with a RED theme in honor of National Heart Month, Valentine's Day, and the Oscars (red carpet) - any red ingredient goes! For more bread recipes, visit the #TwelveLoaves Pinterest board, or check out last month's mouthwatering selection of #TwelveLoaves enter last month's breads featuring a "new to you" type of flour!

If you'd like to bake along with us this month, share your "RED" themed bread using hashtag #TwelveLoaves!