Beetroot and Walnut Bread

Yes, bread can be more than just plain brown or white, as seen here with this colourful “minimum-knead” loaf. It’s big, it’s bright, some may even say it’s a bit brash. But it tastes fine.

I’m going to work on the assumption that you have a sourdough starter and a Dutch Oven (metal casserole dish with a lid) and a banneton. However, if you have none of these items, you can still make this bread. I’ll explain along the way.

Makes: One large loaf with about 10 – 12 slices of varying sizes

Level: Moderately easy

Time: Day 1: 15 minutes hands on then overnight for the first prove. Day 2: hands on about 20 minutes then 2 – 3 hours second prove. 55 minutes baking time + cooling

Equipment: A Dutch Oven and a banneton are useful, but you can manage without them.

Ingredients

  • 200ml/7fl oz starter (50% flour & 50% water)*
  • 300ml/10fl oz warm water (Add a little more if needed)
  • 450g/1lb strong white flour**
  • 10g/0.25oz salt
  • Small amount of oil for lubricating the bowl
  • 1 – 2 cooked and grated beetroots (to give 100g/3.5oz – 125g/4.5oz when prepared)
  • 75g/2.5oz walnuts, broken into pieces
  • 2 – 3 Tbsp fine semolina (for dusting the banneton – if using)
  • 2 – 3 Tbsp Olive oil for brushing the top of the loaf (optional)

* If you don’t have a starter, simply add in the extra water and flour plus 1/2 tsp instant yeast for an overnight prove or 1tsp if you want to skip the overnight proving.)

** Or 300g/10oz white flour + 150g/5.5oz wholemeal (This alternative will give a slightly denser loaf with a nice nutty flavour. You may need a little more water for this option.)

Method

1. Pour the starter into a large bowl and add the warm water. Mix well.

2. Tip in the flour and salt (+ yeast on the opposite side, if not using a starter.) Mix to form a dough, scraping down the sides as necessary.

3. Lightly oil another bowl and tip in the dough. Fold it over itself a few times then cover and leave in a cool place overnight. ( I use an elasticated shower cap to cover the bowl and I leave it in the garage overnight.)

4. The next day when the dough has risen, tip it out onto a lightly floured work surface and knock it back. Spread or roll the dough out and cover with the grated beetroot and chopped walnuts. Fold and knead the mixture, ensuring the beetroot and walnuts are evenly distributed. (Either wear thin rubber gloves or be prepared to wash your hands often.)

5. Knead the dough for a few more minutes then form it into a suitable shape for your banneton. Dust inside the banneton really well, using fine semolina. Place the dough in the banneton. Cover and leave in a warm room to rise again. This may take several hours.

(If you don’t have a banneton, spend a little more time kneading and shaping the dough then place it on a baking sheet and leave inside a large plastic bin liner to rise.)

6. When the dough has risen, turn the oven on to 220C / fan 200C / 425F / Gas 7. Place a Dutch oven in the oven to heat up. (If you don’t have a metal or Pyrex casserole dish to use as a Dutch Oven, then put a baking sheet or baking stone in the oven to bake the loaf on.)

7. Tip the dough out onto a piece of parchment that will fit inside the Dutch oven. Lift the parchment and dough into the Dutch oven, cover and place in the oven.

8. Bake for 30 minutes. Remove the lid and continue baking for another 15 – 20 minutes. (When you remove the lid there’s the option to brush the top of the loaf with olive oil if you want a dark shiny crust.)

9. Remove the loaf from the Dutch oven and place on a shelf in the oven to bake for a final 5 minutes to ensure it’s crisp and crunchy underneath as well as on top.