Beetroot & toasted walnut sourdough

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Beetroot bread is nothing new but I like to add walnuts to the dough for added crunch and the lovely flavour they give, which is a great complement to the slight earthiness you get from the beetroot here. I gently toasted the walnuts here to really bring out the flavour.

The beetroot here is not over-powering, in terms of both colour and flavour it brings: the vibrancy of the initial dough reduces somewhat as the dough bakes looking, I think, less “off-putting” than some of the more garishly pink beetroot loaves you sometimes see.

It is quite a wet dough because of the inclusion of the beetroot, but with slacker doughs such as this, the stretch and fold method is much easier than full-on kneading.

About the “stretch and fold” technique

I have waxed lyrical before about the stretch and fold technique: an alternative to traditional kneading, this is simple approach that is excellent for slacker doughs; the gluten develops fully during the process,the dough gets sifnifiant aeration during the process and the result is bread with an excellent structure.

More information about the “stretch and fold” is on my main sourdough post here

Serving ideas

This is wonderful served just as it is with butter and with soup and toasted and spread with butter is a joy – as is the case with all sourdoughs!

I love this particular bread for open sandwiches: it is particularly excellent with a roast beef and horseradish cream topping, or topped with with salmon, lemon mayonnaise and spring onions.

However, mini loaf versions of this sourdough are wonderful sliced horizontally and then filled for more substantial sandwiches.

Beetroot & walnut sourdough: makes 2 medium loaves

  • 800g strong white plain flour
  • 180g sourdough starter
  • 14g fine sea salt
  • 400-450 ml cold water
  • 180g raw beetroot, peeled and grated
  • 100g walnuts, roughly chopped (lightly toasted for extra flavour ideally)

(1) Mix the ingredients together in the bowl of a food mixer. flour, beetroot and walnuts together in a bowl. Add the starter and 400ml of the water mixing until it comes together in a soft dough, adding more water if necessary.

(2) Knead on a medium setting for about 5 minutes and then cover with a damp tea towel and leave for about 30 minutes or so.

(3) Grab a handful of the dough and lift it high out of the bowl. Slap it back into the bowl. Rotate the bowl a little and grab another handful. Repeat this for about minute. This is one set of stretch and folds. Cover with the damp cloth and leave for about 20-30 minutes at room temperature.

(4) Repeat the stretch and fold sessions three or four more times, resting it for about 20-30 minutes after each session. After this, cover the dough and leave it for about an hour at room temperature.

(5) Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and give it a couple more stretch and folds before splitting into two equal pieces.

(6) Pat each piece into a rough rectangle with the shorter edge facing you. Fold the longer edges a little towards the middle and then lightly roll up the dough towards you. Gently roll the dough to give two smooth cylinders.

NB 1: the dough should hold its shape easily without collapsing. If it does not hold, pat the dough out again and repeat the shaping to develop the surface tension: it will get there!

NB 2: this is also great shaped into mini loaves and put in mini loaf tins – ideal split vertically down the centre and filled for sandwiches

(7) Pop the shaped dough into two bannetons that have been well dusted with rice flour or fine semolina, with the seams facing upwards. Dust the tops also and place in a large plastic bag/bin liner or cover with a slightly damp tea towel. Leave to prove at room temperature overnight.

(8) The next morning, place the dough in the fridge for a couple of hours. Towards the end of the rise, pre-heat the oven to its highest setting and place a solid roasting tin on the bottom. Place solid baking sheets in the oven to heat up. NB: cast iron sizzle pans or griddle pans are ideal here. You can bake one at a time if you only have one pan or not enough oven space: just leave the second one in its banneton until you are ready to bake it.

(9) Remove the baking sheets or cast iron pans and gently invert the bannetons onto them: the dough should come out easily and hold its shape. Slash the tops with a razor or very sharp blade. Alternatively, invert the dough into a Dutch oven.

(10) Pour water or a couple of handfuls of ice into the roasting tray and place the turned-out dough in the oven: you don’t need to add water/ice if using a Dutch oven. Bake for 10 minutes at this higher temperature before turning down the temperature to about 200C for about 30-40 minutes further.

For a non-sourdough version:

Make up the initial dough with a total of 750g strong white flour, 7g easy-blend dried yeast and between 380-400ml water instead of the starter. Incorporate the walnut and beetroot with the flour at the start, as in the recipe above.

Author: Philip

Finalist on Britain’s Best Home Cook (BBC Television 2018). Published recipe writer with a love of growing fruit & veg, cooking, teaching and eating good food.

6 thoughts on “Beetroot & toasted walnut sourdough”

  1. Nice! I really appreciate the freezing tip. Its a problem I’ve had with banneton loaves. I look forward to trying it. You’d need to cook it a little longer, no? Also the beets being primarily water would figure into the hydration on the liquid side of things. Any sense of the final hydration?


    1. The freezing won’t affect the baking time too much as it is doesn’t get too frozen: just enough to hold its shape when it turns out.

      Yes re: the water in the beetroot. I add enough water to bring it to a soft enough dough, going more by feel, but with the water content of the beetroot it works out to be a little under 75% hydration in all


  2. Looks amazing as per usual! And that multiple mini loaf pan looks like something I have to buy once I get a bit more space! I need to attempt beetroot bread too. Yours looks very lovely.


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