1/4 cup warm water
1/2 cup milk, room temperature
1 1/2 cups raw beet puree (about 2 1/2 peeled medium beets)*
5 1/2 cups Gold Medal unbleached all-purpose flour
1/4 cup butter, softened
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon nutmeg
2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
1. *To make the beet puree -- peel 2 large beets or 3 medium beets (discarding or reserving 1/2 of one of the 3 beets, so you have 2 1/2 beets), and chop into 1/4-inch pieces. Puree in a food processor with 1/2 cup milk until mixture is smooth and free of lumps.
2. In a small bowl, combine yeast, sugar and water. Let rest 5 minutes.
3. In the bowl of a stand mixer fixed with the paddle attachment, combine milk, butter, egg, nutmeg 3 cups flour and salt. Add in yeast mixture, beet puree. Mix until just combined. Gradually mix in about 2 cups more of flour until dough is soft.
4. Knead, by hand or in a stand mixer fixed with the dough hook, about 10 minutes or until dough is smooth and elastic. Place dough in a lightly greased bowl, cover and let rise until doubled, about 1 to 1 1/2 hours.
5. Punch dough down; kneading briefly on a floured board to release air. Divide in half. Place each rounded ball into a generously floured banneton or other basket to create a unique pattern in the bread. Dust top of each loaf with about 1 tablespoon flour. Cover with wax paper and let rise in a warm place for about 45 minutes, doubling in size. Invert each loaf onto a greased 12x15 inch baking sheet.
6. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Bake 30 to 35 minutes, or until loaves sound hollow when tapped.
7. Allow bread to cool completely on a cooling rack before slicing or serving. Makes 2 loaves.