That's how it started. I was right in the middle of my facebooking (it warrants its own verb by now, don't you think?) and suddenly I upped and walked into the kitchen with the strong desire to bake bread (but not before updating my status message to reflect this). The exercise from the dough kneading, the smell as the bread bakes, the warmth of the oven... perfect activity to cheer one up on a cold, cloudy day!
I started off with my basic khara bread recipe and then modified a bit... just because I felt like it!
Since I've been improving upon the khara bread over time (and it sure has gotten yummier!), I figured I would share this beet bread recipe as a separate one instead of just referring people to the original post.
As always, the spices, herbs, seeds, nuts and even the vegetables used for that matter can be switched around to suit your taste. Personally, every time I make it, I use a different combination.
Today, this is what went into my bread.
Pretty Pink Vegan Beet Wheat Bread
Yeah, the final bread isn't all that pink. But the dough surely is! Besides, the name sounds so poetic this way. :oP
4 C whole wheat flour (chapathi atta)
3 C okara (soybean paste after the milk has been extracted)
1 large beet - peeled and grated
1 onion - chopped
1 T sugar
3/4 T active dry yeast
2 T raw flax seed powder
1 T white sesame seeds
1 T poppy seeds
3 T roasted sunflower seeds (without skin)
1/4 C extra virgin olive oil
5 green chillies
9 cloves garlic (the garlic cloves in India are quarter the size of the US ones)
3/4 T rock salt
pinch asafoetida powder
Place 1/2 C water in a small pan and heat it for a minute or so. Switch off the flame and add the sugar. Stir until the sugar has dissolved. Cool the water a bit. It should be hotter than lukewarm but not burning hot. (I know the temperature is right when I can dip my finger in it and keep it there without needing to scream).
Sprinkle the yeast over the water and keep aside for about 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, place the flour and okara in a large mixing bowl and prep the veggies and spices - grating, chopping, crushing etc...- and add them to the flour. Add the nuts and seeds too.
By this time the yeast should have frothed well and risen. If it hasn't frothed, it means the water is either too hot or too cold. In which case you'll need to start again and get it right! It's very important that the yeast mixture has frothed before it can be used.
Pour the olive oil and flax seed powder into the frothed yeast mixture and beat with a spoon until it's all gooey and well blended. Add this to the bowl which has the other ingredients in it.
Now the kneading begins. This is THE most important part of baking bread. A well kneaded dough is the key to the final result. The dough should be moist but not sticky. I like to first mix everything lightly in the bowl and once they come together I form it into a rough ball and transfer it onto my clean counter top (which has been dusted with wheat flour) to continue the kneading.
Keep kneading with both palms for at least 15 minutes. Take it easy, go slow and enjoy the process. Press the dough away from you with the bottom of your palms and then fold the outer edge over the inner side. Keep repeating this. Press down, fold over, press down, fold over. Keep dusting your palms and the dough with flour if it's too sticky as you knead. If the dough is on the slightly dry side then rub your palms with olive oil and pat some on the dough as you knead. Remember that a moist dough is always better than a dry one (keep that in mind when you mix the rough dough in the bowl and add water if required). The final result after kneading should be soft and elasticky.
Now rub oil on the whole inside of the mixing bowl. Make a ball of the dough and place it in the bowl and swirl it around to coat with the oil all over.
Cover with a warm, moist cloth and keep in a warm place to let it rise for a minimum of 2 hours (you can leave it up to 4 hours if you like).
After 2 hours the dough would have risen a lot and doubled in size (at least). Punch it down, shape into a loaf (this forms one super sized loaf!) and place it in a bread pan. Cover with the moist cloth once more and let it rise for at least another 1 hour (not more than 2 hours).
Pre heat the oven to 450F/230C.
Remove the cloth and pop the pan into the oven. Let the bread bake at this temperature for 15 minutes. If you'd like a crispy crust, open the oven door halfway and carefully spray a few light squirts of water on top of the loaf a couple of times during this period.
After 15 minutes, reduce the temperature to 400F/200C and bake for 45 minutes (do not open the oven door during this time for any reason).
Once the oven goes off remove the bread (check to see if it's done by tapping the top of the loaf and sides of the pan lightly and ensure it sounds hollow-ish). Let the bread cool in the pan for about 15-20 minutes. Then gently remove from the pan onto a cooling rack and let it sit there to cool completely.
Cut with a serrated knife and enjoy! :)