I love bread.
And I love carbs.
One of my guilty pleasures in life is hot buttery toast. I think it stems from years of nursing and the old traditions of having ‘tea and toast’ at 4am on a night shift to get you through that final push, last drug Round, personal care of patients and finally the tired drive home to bed.
To me, bread is exciting and has endless possibilities but ultimately it all begins with three simple ingredients:
And from there you can create some absolute magic. If I’m making bread at home, I want it to be picked with flavour and something quite different you just couldn’t buy anywhere. I got thinking about flavours I love and was inspired by a recipe for beetroot bread which I’ve taken to new heights by adding a stuffed and twisted filling of goats cheese, walnuts and spinach. I sort of winged this one- I had no idea how I wanted to stuff, shape and assemble the bread but eventually I decided on a plan to make a twisted knot and I was thrilled with the result. The way it is stuffed and twisted means that it doesn’t matter how you cut the bread- every slice contains beautiful little pockets of the filling.
We ate half the bread just simply sliced when it was freshly baked but after a 50 mile bike ride in the wind and rain, I devoured the last wedge of the bread with a huge bowl of tomato soup. It was truly Epic.
So if you want a bit of a technical challenge, have a go at the recipe below and let me know what you think!
Beetroot Bread With Spinach, Goats Cheese and Walnuts
For the dough:
250g wholemeal or wholegrain strong bread flour
250g strong white bread flour
1tbsp olive or rapeseed oil
300g cooked beetroot
60ml lukewarm water
For the filling:
180g goats cheese log (with rind)
60g roughly chopped walnuts
1/2 bag spinach, wilted and patted completely dry
1 egg to glaze the bread before baking
1- Purée the beetroot in a blender until smooth
2- Sift the bread flours into a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook (you can do it by hand). Add yeast to one side of the bowl and salt to the opposite side. Mix together.
3- Add the beetroot purée and water and mix on a medium speed. If the mix is a little dry then add a splash more water.
4- I usually start my dough in a mixer but I like to knead by hand. Once a rough dough has formed, turn out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead for 8-10 minutes until you have a smooth, stretchy dough.
5- Place in a large oiled bowl, covered in cling film and leave to prove for at least two hours or doubled in size.
6- When the dough is ready, ‘knock it back’ by tipping the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and taking the air out of the dough.
7- Divide in two and roll out into long sausage shapes. Press flat. Sprinkle the chopped goats cheese (leaving a little aside for topping), walnuts and spinach across the flattened dough.
8- Fold the dough across to seal the dough back to a sausage shape but with the filling in the middle.
9- Pull the two sausages together and twist together from one end until all dough is incorporated.
10- Then ‘wind’ the dough together to form a knot shape. Make slashes in the dough and tease the filling out to the edges. Place on a baking tray and leave to prove for another hour with a bag over the tray to cover it.
Top tip: a bin liner is a great size and you can ‘trap’ air into it by opening up the bag, sliding the tray in and tying the ends together to seal the air in the bag. The bread can then prove without you worrying about the bag collapsing and sticking to the dough.
11- After an hour, the dough should be doubled in size. Pre heat the oven to 220*C.
12- Glaze the dough gently with an egg wash and poke the remaining goats cheese into the creases and folds of the knot.
13- Bake for 20 mins at 220*C then turn the oven down to 180*C and bake for a further 15 mins.
14- You’ll know the bread is cooked if you tap the bottom of the bread and it sounds hollow. Cool on a cooling rack.
This bread is absolutely DELICIOUS with a bowl of soup or would go beautifully with a beetroot and yoghurt dip. Or just eat it just as it is- I promise you won’t be disappointed!!!