Beetroot and Barley Bread

beetroot - all ingredients

The fine people at, the international health food supplier, have very kindly provided me with a stack of tasty ingredients to try. The list they offered was extensive but I chose a few choice pieces; organic barley flour, beetroot powder, Ceylon cinnamon powder and organic gluten (vital wheat). I can’t wait to tell you about the recipes in which I used these ingredients, so here’s the first one!

beetroot - ingredients

For my first recipe I wanted to make some bread as it’s one of my favourite things to do at the moment. The brightly coloured beetroot powder immediately stood out to me. I love beetroot; the smell, the flavour, the colour. I also decided to make use of the organic barley flour, having never used it before.

The bread was to be sourdough, of course. As usual I set up my recipe with Elaine Body’s master recipe. I substituted out 50g of the strong white flour for beetroot powder, and 100g organic barley flour. I had no idea how it would react but I was hopeful it would turn out to be a tasty loaf.

The Bread

The first thing I had to do was wake up my starter. I keep mine in the fridge as I only use it once every week or so. I took it out of the fridge to get up to room temperature before feeding it 50g of water and 50g of flour. The recipe only calls for 50g of starter but I wanted to give it a good feed. I then left it for a couple of hours to get nice and active before adding it to my 330ml of water and dry ingredients.

With all the ingredients well mixed together I left it alone for an hour to settle. This gives the water time to permeate properly through the dry ingredients. After the hour, I started my stretch and folds. The first round I did about 15-20 stretch and folds. Then every couple of hours after that I did 5-6. The stretch and folds are essentially you kneading the bread and helping the gluten strands to strength and give the bread structure to form.

Beetroot - mixed

I had done 4-5 rounds of stretch and folds before the dough was left on the kitchen counter for the night to bulk ferment. In the morning the dough had risen nicely enough, although not as much as my standard dough would.

Beetroot - post rise

beetroot - dough after bulk

The dough was a lovely pink colour. I decided to line my banneton with clingfilm to protect it and make sure it didn’t get dyed. Unfortunately this wasn’t the best idea (I’ll explain why later). At the end of the bulk ferment, I did another round of stretch and folds and transferred the dough to the banneton, covering with more clingfilm before putting it into the fridge for a long prove.

beetroot - dough in banneton beetroot - risen dough in banneton

Around 8 hours later I took it from the fridge. It had barely moved in that time, maybe an inch or 2 bigger. My thought is that I had essentially suffocated my dough by wrapping it in clingfilm just to protect my banneton. It could also have been the barley flour causing it as I’m told it is not a “strong flour” and therefore can’t hold the structure well. I carried on regardless. There’s no point spending an entire day tending to some dough just to throw it away!

beetroot - loaf pre-bake

I turned it out of the banneton onto some parchment paper, scored it and then into my big cast iron pot it went. The pot was cold and so was the oven. This is what Elaine refers to as “cold, cold, cold”. As soon as the pot went in the oven the temperature was cranked up to 230 Celsius and the soon to be bread was left there for 40 minutes. After 40 minutes the lid came off and it stayed in the oven for another 10-15 minutes to crisp up.

beetroot - finished loaf beetroot - finished load cut beetroot - finished load slicedConclusion

I have to say I’m a little disappointed with this bake. It tastes fantastic; sweet and earthy as you would expect from beetroot. However it didn’t rise anywhere near as much as I would have liked. This could have been because of the barley flour or the clingfilm. Only one way to find out, try it again!! Next time I’ll reduce the barley and the beetroot a little and see if the structure holds. I’ll also not bother with lining the banneton, let the colour take hold and enjoy myself a pink banneton.

I devoured the whole loaf within a few days though. The last of it accompanied a baked Camembert and some pickles.

The Ingredients

There are plenty of other things that you can do with these ingredients. Beetroot is used primarily for flavour and colour. It is rich in vitamins and minerals, high in fibre and low in fat. You could use it in pasta to make it pink and give it a sweet earthy flavour. The amount you add will determine how subtle or vibrant you have it. It also works great in smoothies and fruit juices. If you were so inclined you could even use the beetroot powder to dye clothing!

The barley flour is a great substitute for plain flour. It’s sweet nutty flavour makes it perfect for breads and biscuits. It’s not gluten free but it is one of the lowest glycemic index grains so can fit into your diet if you’re following a low GI diet. It is also high in fibre, including soluble fibre which helps to keep you feel fuller for longer. Like the beetroot powder it is rich in vitamins and minerals. You can substitute all or some of the normal flour in your recipes for barley flour so it is very versatile.

Look out for my future posts featuring the ingredients kindly provided by

The words contained here are my own.


  1. May 6, 2019

    I love the look of this (bread addict) and would demolish this with some lovely cheese- yum!

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