In common with a lot of people, I buy big bunches of beetroot because I feel good about buying something that’s quite evidently been yanked straight out of the ground and that comes complete with leaves and dirt. I rarely have a clear idea about what I’m going to do with it, but still I buy it.
The leaves tend to wilt, and get lopped off and chucked in the compost bin, which in itself is something of a travesty as they make very good eating, and the purple roots sit in the fridge for a little too long, until they’ve got a hint of softness about them, at which point, they get sliced up, roasted and then thrown away because nobody actually likes them done that way, apart from me.
The biggest problem I have with beetroot is the mess – prepping a beetroot is a kitchen bloodbath that leaves everything covered in a bright reddish-purple slick. Don’t wear anything white when slicing beetroot.
I’m maligning this quite wonderful vegetable, though. Treated well, and eaten fresh or cooked properly, it’s a wonderful, if divisive, thing.
This recipe puts it to good use in a baguette, marrying the deep earthy flavour with the equally heavyweight flavour of time … this is like autumn distilled and condensed down into a piece of bread.
Baguettes are a little tricky, and after one too many disasters involving lovingly tended pieces of dough welding themselves onto baking paper intended to make the whole operation of moving ‘ready to bake’ dough around easier, I’ve decided to invest in two things: some proper silicon baking mats, like these, which have handy targets and rulers for optimum baked product placing, or these ones, which are far more sensible, and a proper baking tin that’s actually made for baking baguettes, like this one, which strikes me as about a tenner well spent.