Friday, February 10, 2012

Beet Wheat Bread

Warning: This post is not for a lazy home baker.

If I had to make a very detailed post, then this would be the one and hopefully the first from many more to come. I did promise in my last post that I would be sharing you the pictures and recipes of the bread I made. I am not a baker’s daughter nor have I enrolled myself in any cooking or baking class before. My true purpose of learning to make good homemade bread is, apart from I can save some bread money- a penny saved is a penny earned-, I want to cut our preservatives intake. Let’s face it; preservatives are everywhere, even in the air we breathe. I am not going to go on a rampage on how we should always eat right because what is right for me may not be right for others. One thing I am sure of and I do know is that by consuming less and less preservatives contained food, we are on the right track towards better health and better life.

If you read my previous post, I mentioned a master baker named Peter Reinhart. When I first read his book last year about his search for the perfect pizza in American Pie I was wowed! It was like an epiphany to me! He remembered how his childhood’s favorite pizza tasted like and wondered whether it could get any better. So he went to Italy, from city to city, to discover the ‘real’ pizza. Did I mention he brought his wife along? What a joy! The reason why I was so drawn into reading American Pie was that I am actually very much like Mr. Reinhart when I am really curious about a certain dish I am really passionate about. The way he writes, the way he explains his findings, it is all as if he was in front of me passionately telling me about his perfect pizza quest. Then, earlier this year, with the spirit of making homemade bread, I came across his book Artisan Bread Everyday while I was looking for a good bread baking book. 

Boy, it was all worth it. So Peter Reinhart, YOU are responsible for making me obsessed about making bread everyday!

Since my daughter loves bread A LOT and my dear husband is always up to try something new, during the last Chinese new year holiday I took them on a bread trip. 
(Sorry for the poor quality of the pictures, these were taken in a hurry and were initially NOT meant to be posted here :D )

1. Simple Milk Bread
2. My attempt on wheat Baguette
3. Over puffed Ciabatta :D
4. Sourdough Loaf, PERFECT!
5. Challah, Jewish holiday bread.  
    I forgot where my poppy seeds 
    were for the topping.
6. Wheat Babka, Russian 
    chocolate cinnamon bread.

After I scored more success than failure, I was thinking that it would do my conscience justice to try mixing all the different sorts of flour I have at home to make bread instead of just using plain all purpose flour. I happen to love collecting ingredients just in case I need it in the most peculiar cooking times possible. I started to incorporate seeds, grains, dried fruits, and just about anything healthy I could think of.

Starting at that point, I no longer 'obey' the cookbook to make healthy bread because bread making is an adventure itself. Well, at least for me, a geeky homemaker. I still, of course, go back and forth surfing the net to learn more about making 100% whole wheat bread. Sadly, I found out that to make bread using only whole wheat flour is rather impossible without an ingredient called Vital Wheat Gluten which is not readily available in my city. The role of Vital Wheat Gluten, as the name stated, is.. vital to make sure you have an edible 100% whole wheat bread. You see, wheat flour and other multi grain flour have very low protein content, therefore when mixed with liquid, they will not develop strong gluten strands that are needed to give the raw dough its elasticity and rising power. Without Vital Wheat Gluten you will have a rock hard flatbread. Ciabatta in its truest form (Italian: Slipper). There are other methods as well that work very well but very much time consuming, seriously time consuming, though I plan to try them later on summer holiday.

So, I object to be let down by a mere fact that I cannot get my hands on Vital Wheat Gluten. BooHoo! I just have to be content with half and half. After all, half is always better than none.

I read that to get the health benefit of wheat flour and still retain the shape and the texture of plain white bread, we can substitute 1/3 of the white flour used in a recipe with wheat flour to make bread. Well I say, push the boundaries. Go up to a 1/2 and experiment! I did. The result was awesome. But do not take my word for that. You just have to try it yourself.

Anyhow, enough with my ramblings and let’s get on with this lovely Beet Wheat Bread. This is a very lovely complete meal. In the spirit of pushing the boundaries, I have altered the original recipe and make it vegan by substituting butter to olive oil and omit the egg. The result is.. a Masterpiece, if I could be so bold to proclaim it so.


-1 tsp instant yeast (make it just slightly less, not level)
-1tsp salt
-1 cup grated beet, or carrot
-1 cup bread flour
-1/2 cup+ 2tbs kraftkorn flour
-1tbs olive oil
-3/4 cup warm water, put in glass, set aside.


-Mix flour, yeast, and salt together.
-Prepare your measuring cup and squeeze the grated beet, reserve the juice then put the grated beet in the flour mix.
-Check the level of your beet juice then add water until it reaches 3/4 cup level, add the oil, stir.
-Pour the beet juice-water-oil into the flour while stirring slowly to form a moist dough.
-Turn the dough out onto a floured work surface then knead until smooth but still sticky, about 10 minutes.
-Put the dough into a clean oiled bowl and let rise, covered loosely with tea towel or any cloth, until doubled in size, around 1-1 1/2 hours.
-In this stage, you can either do a free form shape or just put it in an oiled loaf pan.
-Proof again until doubled in size, about 45 minutes
-Bake in the preheated oven, 190C for 45 minutes, cool on wire rack.


-I use the beet juice-water because I feel that it is such a waste to throw the lovely healthy juice down the drain. You can use water only, though. But whatever you choose, do not keep the juice and use all the water or your dough will be overly wet.

-If you choose to do a free form loaf, artisan style, make sure you incorporate more white flour while you shape your loaf so the bread will not spread too much in the oven.

-If you make a free form loaf you will get a very nice crispy crust. It won’t happen if you use the loaf pan. But worry not, the taste is impeccable for either shape.

-I use Kraftkorn flour. It is actually a wheat flour mixed with a bit of soy flour and rye flour, flaxseed, soybean grits, sun flower seeds, and medium coarse oats. Don’t you just feel healthy by reading it :) If you don't have Kraftkorn flour at home, don’t be discouraged. Just make your own version. Like I said, be creative. You are the master of your own kitchen. Besides, we are looking for more of the health benefit here. All you have to do is take away 1-2tbs of your wheat flour then replace it with the list of ingredients that makes up the real Kraftkorn flour. Make sure the seeds are coarsely ground.

-If you happen to be real  busy and you don’t have time to wait for your dough to rise until doubled in size, or perhaps your kitchen is very cold, though it is quite impossible if you live where I live, you can cheat. Yes, cheat. I do it too sometimes with the way I make my pao dough rise faster. Prepare a cup of hot, not boiling water, in a bowl that is bigger than the bowl containing your dough, and then put your bowl of dough in.

This bread is utterly, out of this world delicious! Have it toasted and spread your favorite cheese on top or just have it plain. My daughter's favorite cheese is this sun dried tomato and basil fresh cheese. Top it with olives and you will instantly be in Mediterranean bread heaven!

If you have questions related to baking bread or just about any recipe I post on my blog, I would be happy to help you. Please click my Facebook icon up there and ask me via my Facebook page. Have fun baking bread!

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