Friday, December 16, 2016

Beet Challah - a Colorful Creation with the BBB

We have a colorful challenge to put forth this month!  This lovely loaf is made with beet puree to yield one heck of a bright loaf.  During the multiple renditions the Babes have been trying for this challah/brioche bread, we have seen the color range from barely there post baking, to vivid pink.  In using beets for dying eggs, I have seen this same range from ruddy red to vivid fuchsia depending on the age and origin of the beets.  I once made the Pinterest Valentine's beet pancakes and those were vivid and bright pink. 

Before flipping...
After flipping.

My eldest flat out refused to even try them because of the color!  But my youngest declared them delicious.  And no, you could not taste the beets.  They were just a tiny bit more moist than regular pancakes.

I decided for my rendition, that I wanted to avoid having the entire loaf be pink.  We were given the option of using golden beets if we chose, but I left mine out too long and they got soft.  So I went with carrots instead for the other half of the dough.  (Inspired by the Italian recipe for Carrot and Beetroot bread: Panbauletto Carota & Barbabietola.)  We have after all made a delicious carrot bread before with the BBB.  I didn't get quite the orange color as that one this time, but I was using steamed puree instead of fresh raw juice.  I still really like how it turned out.

I think most of the Babes did go with a sourdough loaf or a faux sourdough with a levain starter, but the option was given for a yeast version and since my sourdough is asleep right now, I took it.  I did do an overnight ferment and I suppose the bit of sour cream I used might have contributed a tad to fermentation.  Maybe.  But I'm still very happy with how it turned out.  It smelled SO good at the end of the bake cycle.  I was also thinking of a Finnish Pulla (Cardamom Braid) when I came up with my final version, so I added just a bit of cardamom, as well as some lemon zest to brighten it up.  Beets can be earthy after all.  There was just a bit more sugar in my combined doughs, but not so much as in a Pulla loaf.  Like I said, it smelled divine, but we haven't broken in to it yet!  I'll have to update with a picture and verdict when we do soonAnd there it is.  Beautiful!

If you feel like being adventuresome and trying out this unique bread with us, you can bake it up any time between now and Dec. 30th.  Then send a picture or a link to your post to the host kitchen at Bread Experience.  She will then send you a nifty Buddy badge graphic to add to your post or keep on your desktop, and include you in the Buddy Roundup at the beginning of January.  We'd love for you to join us.  You can also see what's going on for each month's recipe on the Facebook Group.  Be sure and check out the host kitchen's post since it shows multiple versions, techniques,  and colors of how the bread can turn out!  What follows is the original version of the bread.  My changes will be posted after that.

Beet Challah
(Sourdough version)
makes 3 loaves

Overnight Levain:

25-30 g sourdough starter (or ½ tsp instant yeast)
100 g bread flour (or all-purpose)
40 g water

Place sourdough starter in a small bowl and mix with the water to break it up.  Add in the flour and mix until thoroughly incorporated.  Cover and let rest at room temp for 8-10 hours.  At this time of year if your house is cold, it could take longer.  To test if the levain is ready to use in the dough, perform a float test by taking a little bit of the starter and dropping it in a bowl of water.  If it floats, it's ready. If not, let it rest a while longer and try the test again.

Final Dough:

700g bread flour or all-purpose flour, divided (450g, 200g, 50g)
3 tbsp sugar (38g)
1 tsp fine sea salt (8g)
2 tbsp oil (27g)
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
2 egg yolks, lightly beaten
100g water (100ml)
3 raw beets cut into small chunks (~280g)
1 tsp vanilla, optional (5ml)
Poppy seeds, optional

Egg Wash:
Leftover eggs whites mixed with a little water

Puree the beets in a blender, adding the water gradually, until the mixture is completely smooth.  This will take a little while unless you have a high-powered blender.  Weigh the beet puree mixture, if it weighs more or less than 280 grams, you'll either need to add more or less flour.

Mix 450g of the flour, the sugar and the salt together in a large bowl.  In a separate bowl, mix the pureed beet mixture, beaten eggs and yolks, oil and vanilla, if using.  Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix well.  Add the sourdough (levain starter) on top and mix thoroughly.

Gradually mix in up to 200g of flour using a stand mixer or your hands.  Let the dough rest for 30 minutes. 

Remove the mixture to a lightly floured surface and knead the dough. Add the additional 50 g of flour if necessary to form a supple and workable dough.

Shape the dough into a ball and place it back in the bowl. Cover and let it proof for 2-3 hours.  Perform a fold at 60 and 120 minutes.  You can let the dough rest for the final hour or place it in the refrigerator overnight.
Note from host kitchen: The next day, I took the dough out of the refrigerator and shaped the braids using the cold dough.  It worked really well.  I didn't want to add any additional flour so I spread a light layer of olive oil on the work space instead of flour.  This method worked really well for me.  Just don't put too much oil or you won't be able to roll out the braids.
After the bulk ferment, at room temperature or in the refrigerator, divide the dough into 3 equal pieces and shape them into a ball.  Let rest a few minutes, then divide each ball again into 3 equal pieces.

Form each piece into a long rope, flattening and removing the air.  A couple folds first will help the structure of the ropes.  Then braid three ropes together, pinching the ends to seal and then tucking under.

(Mine was a four strand braid.)

Place the braided loaves on a parchment-lined baking sheet and brush with egg wash. Cover gently with oiled plastic wrap so it doesn't stick to the braids and let them proof about 1½ hours, until they have grown to about 1½ times their original size.  Rising time will depend on the temperature in your kitchen.

Preheat the oven to 350ºF and place the oven rack on the middle shelf.

Brush the loaf again with egg wash and sprinkle the top with poppy seeds.

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 at least 190ºF in the center.

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

My version is as follows and the carrot and beet doughs are identical other than the different purees.  I pressure steamed the veggies for only a couple minutes, so they were still pretty firm and took a while to puree.  I ended up with some bits that I picked out of the dough.  (Roasting the beets seems to yield a softer red color in the finished loaf.)

225g all purpose flour
25g light rye flour
55 g light spelt flour
190g beet/carrot puree
5g active dry yeast
20g milk
1 whole egg
20g sour cream
6g fine sea salt
1/8 tsp cardamom
1 tsp lemon zest
2 tbsp sugar

Egg wash:  1 whole egg + 1 tbsp milk, whisked

Basically, I combined the milk, egg, sour cream, sugar, puree and yeast first.  Then mixed in the cardamom and zest.  Then added the flours and mixed until the dough was cohesive and not too sticky.  Then I let it rest in the fridge overnight.  (Separating the colors, of course!)  Let it warm up a bit the next day, punched it down, gave it a fold and divided each dough in half.  Gave those pieces a couple folds until the gluten felt strong, then rolled into ropes and braided in a four strand braid.  Brushed the egg wash just before baking and sprinkled with poppy seeds.  I did add a bit of steam right at the start.  Rotated the loaf after 15 minutes and turned down the oven to 325ºF.  Also covered the loaf with foil after 25 or 30 minutes so it wouldn't get too brown.  It's a moist crumb and I let it get above 200º inside to make sure it was done.

Oh yes, do remember that beets STAIN fingers, counters, everything they touch.  And beet dough color will bleed through waxed paper.  ;)

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

BBB Porridge Bread Roundup

The end of the year is a busy time for folks, but we did get a couple of intrepid bakers to try out our Rye porridge bread.  It's worth a try, even if it isn't for a buddy baking challenge!

Our first buddy baker was Shirley from Flour.ish.en Test Kitchen who completely knocked it out of the park with an amazing version filled with pistachios and raisins.  Just a beautiful loaf:

And one other baker, Soep, showed us her rising loaf on the Facebook group:

 Hers was a whole wheat version of the porridge bread and looked great.

That's it for November, stay tuned on the 16th for the next recipe and challenge.  You can also find the posts of many of the Babes for each month on the Facebook group!