Sweet-heart but no sweet-tooth?

It is definitely the case with my husband so, in a break from my usual rustic style, I designed these cupcake-style love buns with a Valentine’s Day brunch in mind.  With all the cutesiness of a cupcake but most definitely savoury flavour they were made with in-season beetroot, walnuts, a slow-fermented bread dough and a cream cheese topping.  They were sure to be a hit. 

Or so I thought.  My husband, my biggest fan yet most discerning critic, ‘got’ the idea and thought the bread tasted delicious but the red bread/pink icing concept was just a bit too confusing for his brain in a Heston kind of way (but not in a good way, unfortunately)!  Apparently my labour of love was ‘tasty, but weird’.  Not being a cake-man I’m not sure he understood the slightly ironic red velvet reference either.  This had been my fear from the start.  It is amazing the way the brain is wired to expect something that looks a certain way to taste a certain way.  Even when I was shaping the dough I kept thinking I could smell raspberries.

I will make this bread again but I will skip the muffin cases and pink ‘frosting’ and bill them correctly as beetroot and walnut rolls in keeping with my usual style, or maybe make a tin loaf, with plain white cream cheese served in a bowl on the side. 

This was my original recipe but, you have been warned, it might not have the effect you were hoping for.  Perhaps needless to say, I didn’t bother cooking these today and I’ve settled for pink fizz and a take away!


Malt house Bread Flour – 100g

Strong White Flour – 100g

Water – 150ml

Salt – 1 tsp

Yeast – 1tsp

Walnuts- 50g, chopped (plus extra for decorating, optional)

Butter – 20g (plus extra for greasing)

Beetroot – 100g (around one medium beetroot)

Cream cheese, good quality – 250g

Milk – 1tbsp


Two days before baking:

Briefly mix the malt house flour with 100ml of water and the yeast in a bowl to form a sponge.  Cover and leave at room temperature overnight.

One day before baking:

Cook the beetroot until tender (I cooked a whole bunch and made a beetroot salad with the excess), allow to cool, then grate with a coarse grater. 

Put the cream cheese in a blender and add small amounts of the grated beetroot, blending between additions until you are happy with the colour (probably about one and a half teaspoons if you are aiming for baby-pink rather than shocking-pink).

Melt the butter in a small saucepan, remove from the heat and stir in the walnuts.  Set aside to cool a little.

Put the sponge in a large bowl and add the strong white flour and remaining water and salt. Mix with a wooden spoon to form a rough dough and then stir in the remaining beetroot and buttered walnuts.  Knead for about ten minutes until you see glutinous strands forming.  The dough is very soft and sticky so will not come together as a cohesive dough at this point.  If you prefer you can knead the dough in a machine with a dough hook or mix vigorously with a wooden spoon.

Cover the bowl and chill in a fridge overnight (or at least for several hours).

On the big day:

Once chilled the dough should be much easier to handle. 

Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface (you can use white flour or semolina flour) and divide into twelve small pieces.  Shape each into a small ball.

Line a muffin tin with twelve muffin cases (brush the interior with a little butter).  Place a dough ball into each of the cases and leave to rise, covered, for about an hour to an hour and a half at room temperature.

Preheat your oven to the highest temperature (around 230C).  Bake the rolls for around 10 minutes, until they are lightly browned on top.

Remove the rolls to a cooling rack.

When the rolls have cooled completely add the milk to the cream cheese and use it to top the rolls.  You can make a classic ‘cupcake rose swirl’ using an icing bag and a Wilton 2D nozzle and ice anti-clockwise from the centre outwards.