I have heard the phrase, “Artisan Breads” mentioned here and there in the last few years. Most people really appreciate interesting breads with something unique about them, but few people make anything but ordinary breads at home. There are some good reasons to keep the breads plain. If you make a savory flavored bread, you might want to make peanut butter and jelly. If you make sweet flavored breads you might want to make a turkey and hummus sandwich. I have definitely had this problem, but you know, peanut butter and jelly on curry bread really isn’t so bad.
My Mom has a recipe for vegetable breads, and the one she makes the most is beet bread. I don’t have her recipe, but essentially you exchange some or all of the water in a bread recipe for pureed roasted beets and voila! A brilliant fuchsia bread! My Dad likes to call it safety bread, saying that he could eat a sandwich on beet bread and not need to wear a safety vest even if he was sitting on an airport runway.
If you use canned beets, the bread is still good, but only has a pink crust with a brown interior. This does not have as many safety features.
So, my recommendation is to find yourself a basic bread recipe and start experimenting by exchanging ingredients. Here is my basic bread recipe, followed by some of my favorite variations…
3 T. canola oil
2 T. sugar
1 t. yeast
½ c. water
2/3 c. milk (or more water)
3 c. unbleached flour (or 2 c. flour with 1c. wheat flour)
1 t. salt
Then follow whatever bread things you like to do…
Nathanael actually makes most of the bread in our house, so most of the time if I am making it I put the dough in the bread machine or mixer to be kneaded, then shape it into a long loaf on a cookie sheet. I leave it to rise for 30-40 minutes, cook it at 325 for 35 minutes, and then take it out. Afterward I wrap the half we haven’t eaten for later. (We like warm bread.)
For a softer bread, I exchange the milk for whole milk yogurt.
For colorful breads here are some of the things I have exchanged the milk (or both the milk and water) for…
Pink: Pureed beets (with 1 T. dried basil)
Green: pureed spinach (with dried oregano, parsley and Parmesan cheese)
Orange: pureed pumpkin or carrot
Red: tomato paste (with basil, oregano and Parmesan for a pizza-like bread)
Yellow: keep the liquids as is and add 1 to 2 T. of Madras curry powder
Crunch: for a slight crunch add a few Tablespoons of raw millet to your dough
Madras Curry bread
Beet bread (using canned beets) after baking. When fresh beets are used the deep pink color is retained after baking.