Friday, February 18, 2011

Red Beet Buns

This is a recipe using the Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day technique, and comes from the authors' second book, Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day. If you've never used this bread making technique, I will explain the basics to you. It is really very simple.

I altered some of the recipe based on ingredients I had on hand. I also halved it, because it was my first time and I wanted to test the recipe out. I will definitely make the whole batch next time! Check the very end of the post for notes on how I altered the recipe.
"Beets: The root's deep red color comes from beta-cyanin, but this is more than a pretty face. The pigment may help prevent cell mutations that can cause cancer. They're also a rich source of folic acid."--Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day
From Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day

Basic Technique
The ABin5 way of making bread is nice because it basically consists of mixing everything in one container (just with a spoon, no kneading), letting it rise in the container for a couple hours, then storing in the fridge until you want to make bread. No additional kneading, easy-peasy. Each batch makes enough dough for several loaves, so you don't have to make dough every time you want bread.

You'll need a large container for the dough, at least 5 quarts. I use a round 1.4 gallon Rubbermaid container. It's wide but short enough to fit on a fridge shelf. The recipe recommends using a baking stone and a metal broiler tray for pouring water in and creating steam. Both of these are optional, but they are supposed to give the finished bread a nice, crispy crust.

Ingredients (enough dough for 5 batches of 8 buns--40 total)
2 cups white whole wheat flour (check for King Arthur or Bob's Red Mill)
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
3 cups spelt flour*
1 1/2 TBS granulated yeast, or 2 packets
1 TBS kosher salt (increase or decrease to taste)
1/4 cup vital wheat gluten
3 1/4 cups lukewarm water
3 cups finely shredded peeled raw beets (a food processor with grating attachment makes this much easier, faster, and cleaner!)
1/2 white onion, finely chopped

Directions (from HBin5)
1. Mixing and storing the dough: Whisk together the flours, yeast, salt, and vital wheat gluten in a 5-quart bowl, or a lidded (not airtight) food container.

2. Add the water, beets, and onion and mix without kneading, using a spoon, a 14-cup food processor (with dough attachment) or a heavy-duty stand mixer (with paddle). You might need to use wet hands to get the last bit of flour to incorporate if you're not using a machine. (I always can get the job done with just a wooden spoon, and maybe my hands at the end. Don't bother with mixers.)

3. Cover (not airtight!), and allow the dough to rest at room temperature until it rises and collapses (or flattens on top), approximately 2 hours.

4. The dough can be used immediately after its initial rise, though it is easier (very!) to handle when cold. Refrigerate it in a lidded (not airtight) container (keep it in the original mixing container) and use over the next 5 days. The flavor will be best if you wait for at least 24 hours of refrigeration.

5. On baking day, dust the surface of the refrigerated dough with flour and cut off a 1-pound (grapefruit-size) pice. Dust the piece with more flour and quickly shape it into a ball by stretching the surface of the dough around to the bottom on all four sides, rotating the ball a quarter-turn as you go. (I found this dough to be very wet, so move your fingers quickly to avoid sticking. Be liberal with the flour-dusting.) 

6. To form the buns: Divide the ball into 8 roughly equal portions (each about the size of a golf ball). Shape each one into a smooth ball. Allow them to rest, loosely covered with plastic wrap, on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper for 40 minutes (20 minutes if you're using fresh, unrefrigerated dough). Alternatively, you can rest the buns on a silicone mat-lined cookie sheet or a greased cookie sheet.

7. Thirty minutes before baking time, preheat the oven to 450 degrees F, with a baking stone placed on the middle rack. Place an empty metal broiler tray on any other shelf that won't interfere with the rising buns.

8. Just before baking, use a pastry brush to paint the top crusts with water.

9. Slide the cookie sheet directly onto the hot stone. Pour 2 cups of hot tap water into the broiler tray, and quickly close the oven door. Bake for about 20 minutes, until richly browned and firm.

10. Allow the buns to cool on a rack before eating.

Now that you have the basic recipe, you can make this cute heart-shaped variation that I made for Valentine's Day. I've heard the buns also make delicious sandwiches.
*I could not find spelt flour at either the "normal" grocery store, or at Henry's, a more natural/whole foods type of store. I did not check at Whole Foods or Trader Joe's. Spelt flour is lower in gluten than wheat or white, yet not gluten free. I just substituted equal parts of white whole wheat and all-purpose flour for the spelt (i.e instead of 3 cups of spelt, use 1 1/2 cups white wheat and 1 1/2 cups all-purpose). Then I had to adjust the vital wheat gluten a little because of the increased gluten that is part of the white whole wheat. I used a teaspoon of vital wheat gluten for every cup of white whole wheat flour I put into the recipe (the book suggests 1-2 tsp per cup of whole grain flour). A little guesswork there, but everything turned out great.


Christine said...

Do you have the Healthy Bread in 5 book? Is it worth getting?

Ashley said...

It was a gift, so I never had to decide myself whether to buy it or not. I've actually only made a couple of recipes so far, and need to peruse it a little more, but there are many recipes that have me very excited, and I like that they have worked out all the ratios of flours and wheat gluten that you'd need if you're interested in whole grain breads. They use a lot of other grains besides wheat too. If you're a bread person (which you are, right?), and you already like HBin5 (which I know you do), I'd say it's worth it. I'll let you know again after I try a few more recipes.