Sunday, July 18, 2010

Beets < 3 Bread (it's official)

This past Friday I went to the Union Square Green Market to work on an assignment for my curriculum class.  Naturally, all work and no shopping make Sarah and Julia hungry girls.  I bought lettuce, cucumbers, agretti, beets and a red onion.  Julia bought sugar snap peas.  Not that impressive compared to my list until she also bought a tomato that weighed in to cost 2$ but she only had 1$.  And so that was all that she paid.  One red, huge, fresh tomato at 50% off.

This is the new (to me) vegetable I bought:

Agretti is an Italian vegetable that sort of tastes like salty grass.  In a good way.  I tossed some into my salad and chopped some into my omelet.  It is tasty, but a lot of work.  Similar to kale, it is not fun to eat the stems.  But different than kale it doesn't have big leaves to take off.  The part you eat of this vegetable are those skinny little leaves growing off the tough stem.  Taking those leaves off was unlike any food prep  I have done before.  Still not sure how I feel about the ratio of work to deliciousness with this one.

But look at how cute it is cuddling up with the beets:
The bread is going to get jealous.

Which brings me, conveniently, to the beets.  Martha Rose Shulman published a bunch of delicious looking beet recipes in the NYTimes a couple of weeks ago so they have really been on my mind.  

Lil made a couple of delicious beet boules back in February.  So here we go again.  Letting this "winter vegetable shine in summer!"

Sourdough Beet Bread
(Printable Recipe)
Prep time 1 hour to roast, cool, and puree the beets and about another 3 before it goes in the oven
Bake time about 1 hour
Yields 1 boule

1 cup sourdough starter
1 cup roasted beets, pureed
1/2 cup 8 grain cereal
1/3 cup warm water
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
3/4 teaspoon active dry yeast
2 cups bread flour
2 teaspoons vital wheat gluten
1 3/4 teaspoon salt

First, roast your beets and let them cool before attempting to puree.
Then, soak the 8 grain cereal in the water for 10 minutes.  While it soaks, measure out your starter.
Combine the beet puree with the starter and soaked cereal.  Stir.  The starter should bubble and burp with delight.
Add the whole wheat flour, yeast, and vital wheat gluten.  The dough will still be wet.  Before stirring in any of the bread flour or salt let the starter work for about 20 minutes.  
Now add the salt and as much bread flour as you can stir in.
Once it becomes too difficult to stir, carefully dump it out onto a lightly floured surface and knead in as much of the remaining bread flour as you need to in order to be able to work the dough but still feel that it is slightly tacky.  
Flour a clean bowl for the dough to rise in for about 1 1/2 hours, or until doubled in bulk.
Shape the dough, flour a dutch oven, and place carefully.  Let it rise for another hour or until it is doubled again.
Now, please note, the following cooking method was employed because it is over 90°F in NYC and our apartment does NOT have an air conditioner:
Turn on the oven to 400°F and place the dough, in it's floured dutch oven, inside as it preheats.
After it bakes uncovered for 20 minutes, open the oven door and cover it. 
Bake like this for 20 minutes.  Then turn off the oven.  Do not open the oven door for 20 minutes.
Take the dutch oven out of the oven.  Remove cover and take internal temperature to see that it is 200°F.  
Let it cool before cutting.

For information on roasting beets or other fun beet facts please see Lil's previous post (linked earlier).  One of the things I liked more about those loaves than this one was that the beet was more coarsely chopped leaving bright red flecks throughout the loaf.  This loaf got a really beautiful crust though, nice and chewy, probably because of my brilliant and intentional baking method.

Beet and Bread = BFFL

Aww, makes my heart skip a beet.

- Sar


  1. Oh yay! I'm glad Beet Bread got to go for a second round...I hope some is left for me to try tonight! How did you not die in the heat?

  2. What a great visit I had - it was so well written, I thought maybe, just maybe, that my girl had participated. Well, she did in a way! Agretti-pretty like kale but eccchhhhh!! Love you guys! Lil, start to write!!