Do you know what you were doing 525,600 minutes ago? This time one year ago, RENT closed on Broadway after 12 years running. I won't carry on too much about that though, this blog can be confusing enough as it is, but if you want to relive that tear-stained day then by all means read my blog post from September 7th 2008. Or watch THIS. Okay, am now feeling slightly wibbly so will press on.
I guess if there are any other food bloggers out there you too may well be familiar with the regular tango that is attempting to get photos accepted on such blog-sharing galleries as Tastespotting and Foodgawker. It won't be any surprise that they've turned down my dance card many a time for the more shinier blogs out there. No criticism, I mean, it's what they do. They accept really nice photos. But oh my, it can be twofold disillusioning - when you get rejected yet again, and then when you take a peek at what's been accepted and realise that because your kitchen is not a photo studio with giant reflectors and diffusers and you need to get dinner out now, there's little chance you can compete. Anyway, from this it's easy to become a little peevish. It's not really not right to take it out on Tastespotting or Foodgawker for not accepting me when my photo probably wasn't that great in the first place and, more tellingly, if (and occasionally when) I did get accepted I'd bear no such vocal ill-will.
Anyway with all this in mind it's easy to forget that they can actually provide inspiration and lead you to some fantastic new blogs. This serves as a reminder that one can't slag off everyone for one's own uselessness and that it is possible to take lovely photos without compromising reality. So, I somewhat sheepishly relinquish my hard-nosed opinion. For now. Because, while browsing Tastespotting I found this rather smashing blog which has a recipe for Beetroot Bread - combining two of my favourite things, roasted beetroot and homemade bread. How could I hate Tastespotting after that? (Does anyone remember that dark time after Tastespotting crashed but before Foodgawker was set up? Me too!)
Important things to note in this recipe:
-Americans call them beets, we in New Zealand call them beetroot. Either way it's an ugly word so neither of us need feel any more special than the other.
-You can probably substitute the beetroot for other veges. I imagine roasted carrot would work, as would kumara.
-You have to start the night before. But it takes all of three seconds so don't for goodness sake let this get you down and prevent you from making this.
With that in mind...
The night before - make like Mickey from In The Night Kitchen...
In a large bowl, mix together 1 cup bread flour, 1/4 teaspoon active dried yeast, and 1 cup lukewarm water. Cover in plastic wrap, or indeed just pop the whole bowl into a plastic grocery bag, and leave overnight. While you do whatever it is you do at night it will grow spongy and puffy in a slow, sinister, but ultimately delicious way.
The next day:
Set your oven to 200 C/400 F and wrap four small or two large trimmed beetroot in tinfoil and roast for about an hour or until soft - when a cake tester can be plunged into them without any resistance. Allow them to cool slightly and then puree in a food processor.
Uncover your spongy night-before mixture and stir in the following.
- Pureed beetroot
- 1/2 cup wholewheat flour
- 1/4 cup lukewarm water
- 3/4 teaspoon instant dried yeast.
- 1 teaspoon good salt
Leave it to sit, uncovered for 10 minutes. Then massage some olive oil into your hands (helps prevent the flour from sticking, a little trick that I can't remember who I picked it up from but thank you, forgotten benefactor) and slowly knead in 2 and 3/4 cups plain bread flour. It will take a litte time but the mixture should eventually sproing together to form a cohesive dough.
Like this one!
Put the dough in an oiled bowl and cover it in plastic wrap, or indeed pop the bowl back into a plastic bag. Leave somewhere to rise for about an hour and a half.
Grab the dough and divide it into two loaves, and sit them on a baking paper lined tray. Sprinkle with flour or cornmeal or some such if you like (I didn't), cover in a sheet of plastic wrap and let them sit for another hour (I know. This bread actually sits round forever. It refuses to get out of bed for less than $10,000.) While they're sitting round, set your oven to 200 C/400 F.Finally, remove the plastic wrap and bake your loaves for half an hour.
This bread is fantastic. The blog that I got the recipe from asserts that it doesn't actually taste like beetroot at all but I disagree. It's downright beet-y. It's Warren Beattie. It's Beattie Johnson. It's Beethoven. It's...that's exhausted my list of people with the word 'beet' in their name. The sweet and earthy beetroot definitely lends its enigmatic flavour to the bread, as well as its garish colour. With that in mind, the soft breadiness softens any overriding unusualness of the flavour combination, and the texture is superb - a soft, dense crumb (I think? That's what you're supposed to say about bread anyway) with a toothsomely crisp crust. Make this.
Many thanks to Kirby Von Scrumptious for the recipe.
______________________________________________On Shuffle whilst I type:
Slip Inside This House by Primal Scream from their album Screamadelica. People, there is never a bad time for this album
Dogs from erstwhile Pink Floyd founder and silver fox Roger Water's live album In The Flesh. It's 16 minutes and 27 seconds of dark, strange goodness.
Seasons of Love from both the OBC recording and the film soundtrack of RENT. Ah, what did you expect.
The title of this post is brought to you by: The Broadway musical Hairspray! With its ridiculously gorgeous talent-dense original cast!
Next time: It's Tim's birthday on Friday - he's turning 23 (finally! Took him long enough!) At his request there will be Guinness Cake. Which means you'll probably get to check it out also.