Shocking pink beetroot bread

Do not adjust your screen: this bread really is THAT pink. I’ve been having a little bit of fun in the last couple of weeks, experimenting with adding vegetable purees to bread dough. I told the Small Girl I was going to do a magic trick and waved my ‘wand’ (a wooden spoon) over the teatowel-wrapped loaf while chanting the following:

Ala kazam, ala kajink

Make this bread purple-y pink!

As you can see, it worked a treat. Unfortunately she wasn’t that keen on eating it – and I admit, the colour is pretty arresting – but the bread is lovely. Here’s how to play the same trick at your house.

Beetroot Bread

Beetroot bread
Last year when I interviewed the lovely Ruth Pretty for work she showed me her prized collection of Time-Life ‘Foods of the World’ cookbooks and recommended that I look out for them. I think she cast a good spell over me, because I went through a particularly good period of finding gems in charity shops or on Trade Me immediately afterwards. One was a Time-Life Bread book, sadly not from the same edition as Ruth’s, but edited by Richard Olney and absolutely loaded with amazing recipes and bread knowledge. There’s a recipe dating from 1654 in the book that uses pumpkin, which inspired me to try beetroot. The 1654 recipe uses a lot of yeast and lets the bread rise for hours – I just adapted my normal recipe and it worked out fine. This makes a very springy, soft loaf. The beetroot taste is discernable, but not as shocking as the colour might suggest. A tablespoon of fennel seeds would be a nice addition, especially if you’re going to eat the bread with salmon and cream cheese.

500g beetroot, topped, tailed and halved
500g strong white flour
1 1/2 tsp dried yeast
1 1/2 tsp salt
60-90ml warm water

Prepare the beetroot first. Boil it for 20-30 minutes, until easily pierced with a knife. Drain, then puree in a food processor or with a stick blender. Set aside to cool. You can do this well in advance, but the puree should be at room temperature when it comes to making the bread.
Mix the flour, yeast and salt together in a large bowl, then stir in the beetroot. Mix well, adding a little water, until you have a soft, slightly sticky dough. Cover the bowl with a cloth and let it rest for 10 minutes.

Lightly oil the worksurface, then tip the dough out onto it. Pick up one side of the dough, stretch it up, then bring it down again on top of itself. Repeat from the opposite corner. Do this another three times, then scrape the dough from your hands and walk away. Leave the dough to rest for 10 minutes, then come back and repeat the pick up and stretch process again. Then leave it again for 10 minutes. Do this process once more, then scoop the dough into a well-oiled large bowl. Cover with a cloth and leave in a warm place for about 45 minutes, until nearly doubled.
Heat the oven to 200C. Tip the dough out onto the bench and knock back gently, pressing it out into a rectangle. Roll this up into a large baguette-sort of shape, or shape to fit a large loaf tin. Leave on a lined tray (or in an oiled tin) for 25 minutes, then bake for 30-35 minutes. Tip onto a rack to cool completely before slicing.



  1. April 30, 2013 / 11:02 pm

    Stunning bread. Imagine making burger buns with this bread. It could be a lovely twist to a kiwi burger?

    • May 2, 2013 / 7:47 am

      That is a VERY good idea, not least because it makes lovely spongey, soft bread!

  2. April 30, 2013 / 11:28 pm

    that is impressive – when I have baked with beetroot the colour always seems to be pink on the outside and a pinkish brown on the inside – I have never achieved such garish heights – maybe it is that yours uses much more beetroot or your magic might just be stronger than mine 🙂

    • May 2, 2013 / 7:48 am

      I promise you, there has been no colour adjusting at all, it really IS that crazily bright colour. I obviously don't know my own (magic) strength!

  3. April 30, 2013 / 11:31 pm

    Good grief, you've gone all barbie with your bread. Nice touch with that magic wand of yours.

  4. May 1, 2013 / 4:35 am

    just stunning. no more words needed!

  5. May 1, 2013 / 6:23 am

    Very impressive. Love your low knead method too. Just sits there on the work top. Genius.

  6. February 25, 2014 / 9:52 am

    hey, do you have any idea what the ingredients would be to make a lovely spongey pink bread but with WHOLEMEAL flour :)?? desperate attempt to make children eat wholemeal bread haha x

    • February 26, 2014 / 8:30 am

      Hi Saffron – why don't you try substituting a third of wholemeal flour for white in this recipe and see how it goes? For the record, my child loves seedy, grainy bread, but wouldn't touch a crumb of this beetroot one because it was too pink (who knew there was such a thing?!) Best of luck, and let me know how you get on, Lucy

  7. Clare Kingston
    March 2, 2014 / 3:59 pm

    Hi Lucy, I have 500g of beetroot which I would like to use for 2 1200g loaves. I am making them in a Rose shaped silicone bundt tin, which is quite large, I need a good quantity for it to look good. I love your pink colour but as I'm making them for my parents I'd like to start them off more subtley with a light rose – as I'm hoping mine will too (rose / rise) I have been baking cakes for a while now but am new to bread. Could you please tell me how much water, yeast and salt to use with 250g beetroot for a 1200g loaf? I can always get more beetroot if you think that would be best, I do want it to look pink.

    • March 3, 2014 / 7:13 am

      Hi Clare, do you know the size of your bundt tin, eg, can you measure how much water it will take? I'd say the recipe above will be more than enough for one tin, if the tin takes about 750ml water. It might be a case of trial and error – if you have too much dough for the tin you could always bake the remainder as buns – or even in muffin tins, bearing in mind you will have to reduce the cooking time.
      Now – if you halve the amount of beetroot in the recipe above, you will have to make up the different in liquid with water. It won't be as pink, but the texture will also be a bit different. I'm hesitant to give you amounts without testing it myself (and since I don't have any beetroot at the moment, I can't do that tonight!) My best advice is to give it a go as described above – using the amounts in the recipe as stated – and see how you go. If you want to start very subtly, search my blog for 'pumpkin and parmesan buns' – but use beetroot instead of pumpkin (and maybe feta instead of parmesan). Good luck!

  8. Anonymous
    August 15, 2015 / 2:56 am

    hello! i made this today, halving the recipe exactly to suit the amount of beetroot i had. i wasn't able to perfectly 'puree' the beetroot. the finest i could get it down to was tiny beetroot 'crystals'….so i just worked with this and hoped for the best. baked the (small) loaf for 20mins. it is dense inside despite having browned quite a bit on the outside. at what point do you think i went wrong? would it have been related to my beetroot being in too big pieces, or did i not stretch the dough out enough and let rest before baking? i'd love to give it a go again! thanx <3

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