Sourdough Beet Challah and Multi-color Monkey Bread – BBB


Monkey bread at Dirt Candy

There is this show stopper monkey bread with whimsical multi-color served up in a flower pot at Amanda Cohen’s Dirt Candy, a two-star vegetable restaurant in New York city. This bread showed up on every table in the restaurant and has been widely posted online long before I first tasted the bread. I’ve wanted to make this bread since the first bite, but there is quite a hurdle to overcome and work to do. Mind you, no food dyes, the colors come from the vegetables. I was sidelined — until Cathy at Bread Experience, the host kitchen at Bread Baking Babes this month, posted her recipe for the sourdough beet challah.

My breadmaking has been on the back burner lately due to the holidays. This beet challah is simply too irresistible not to do. Cathy has gone through extensive testing in incorporating the beet color in the challah. That gave me enough confidence and the road map to go ahead and bake, starting with the color red from beets. I got some tips from Amanda on her monkey bread; she also assured me she won’t sue me for any potential infringements. Thank you both.

My beet challah takes on the color tone of merlot, more purple than pink. It has a rich, appealing color and an earthy flavor. I followed Cathy’s recipe to the tee. Made the puree by blending the raw beets and water in the Vitamix. See the cheat sheet below for details. The yellow bread was made similarly by using carrot puree with a dash of turmeric. The green was produced by adding spinach puree and some organic spinach powder to the dough. I shaped the dough in balls and braids. I was not sure all the colors will remain vibrant after facing the extended oven heat. But they did. The loaves turned out to be eye candies decked with fantastic and intense colors. The crumb of the monkey bread in the tall terracotta pot can be more open. Shallower pots certainly work better since there is more room for the bread to spring upward and outward. I forgot to brush the monkey bread with egg wash until after it had been in the oven for a while. An excuse to bake again for better results!

Experimenting with natural vegetable coloring added to sourdough opens colorful renditions and opportunities. For one thing, I’ve learned to bake bread beyond the usual tint of brown.

I am sharing this post with Bread Box hosted by Karen’s Kitchen Stories.



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  • Reply
    Cathy W.
    December 21, 2016 at 6:06 pm

    Shirley, your challah looks fabulous! Gorgeous photos and that multi-color monkey bread is so cool! I'm going to have to try that. Thanks so much for baking with us this month.

  • Reply
    December 30, 2016 at 4:04 am

    That is just totally fun, gorgeous … gosh it's all those over the top words and more beautiful.
    Thanks so very much for baking with us and making it truly special!

  • Reply
    December 30, 2016 at 10:59 am

    It was a great learning and baking experience with the beet challah.

  • Reply
    December 30, 2016 at 11:01 am

    It's rewarding to find a way to make bread colorful and playful.

  • Reply
    hobby baker
    December 30, 2016 at 9:14 pm

    Totally love all your colors! Truly beautiful results.

  • Reply
    Karen Kerr
    January 3, 2017 at 3:39 am

    This looks beautiful, and your little monkey breads are adorable too!

  • Reply
    January 8, 2017 at 1:12 pm

    What a beautiful colour your challah has, so pretty. These multicoloured bread pots are fantastic too, a real showstopper on the table! Love them. Thanks for baking along with us again!!

  • Reply
    January 16, 2017 at 8:44 pm

    Excuse me for commenting so late…

    Oh my goodness!! I love the party coloured Monkey bread.

    We used the last little bit of our beet bread to make beautifully red croutons. I bet your monkey bread would make wonderfully coloured (and flavoured) croutons!

  • Reply
    January 17, 2017 at 8:31 pm

    I never know I can bake in these tiny clay pots. They work!

  • Reply
    January 17, 2017 at 8:32 pm

    It's never late. These breads were gone quite quickly. I have to make more for croutons.

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