Is there any scent more enticing than that of freshly baked bread that’s still warm from the oven? It’s no wonder people recommend it as a way to sell your house! Our scrumptious and fluffy charcoal bread revamps the classic roll into a striking and wholesome bake you’re sure to love.
Ancient bakers: bread through the ages
At its heart, bread is quite simple. It’s a mixture of flour and water that’s baked until edible. Yet, despite this, it may have played a key role in the development of human society. The process of making flour is rather labour intensive. It requires grinding grain into a powder, for example by using a mortar and pestle, millstone, or modern machinery. So it might surprise you to learn that bread is one of the oldest prepared foods in the world. Recent archaeological findings suggest that our ancestors first made bread at least 14,000 years ago.(1) This may have then led to the cultivation of cereals as crops, enabling ancient humans to farm as well as hunt and gather. In turn, this could have prompted people to leave behind their nomadic lifestyles and settle down in fixed communities. The early versions of bread were most likely flatbreads, with leavened bread developing later. It’s unclear exactly when yeast-risen bread was first baked. However, it may have been a form of sourdough created in Egypt between 3,000 and 5,000 years ago. Fast-forwarding a little, it’s believed that Ancient Rome was home to the first commercial bakeries and bakers’ guild.(2) Bread continued to be an important food source in Europe, and many new varieties developed over the years. In the Middle Ages, people even used thick slices of stale bread as plates. Known as trenchers, you could either eat them along with the meal or give them to the poor afterwards. Today, there are more styles of bread available than most of us could name! From fluffy focaccia to chewy ciabatta and striking black charcoal bread, each one has its own unique taste and texture. This brings us to the classic bread roll.
What do you call yours?
Charcoal bread is a relatively recent addition to the baking world. Yet whether accompanying a restaurant meal or sliced open for sandwiches, bread rolls are a familiar sight on our plates. Moreover, how you refer to yours might reveal quite a lot about where you’re from. For example, although ‘roll’ is the most frequent term used in England, it’s not the only one. In parts of the Midlands, ‘cob’ is more common, whereas in areas of the North East ‘bun’ is the favoured term.(3) Other regional names include bap, barm, batch, teacake and breadcake.(4) Naming aside, bread rolls come in all different varieties these days. Besides the standard white bread roll, you can find wholewheat versions, mini ciabattas, seeded styles and everything in between. It’s also possible to bake your rolls in diverse shapes by manipulating the dough before it goes in the oven. Some of the most prevalent designs include plaits, swirls and knots. With the growth of the health food movement, more nutritious breads such as flax, whole grain, oat and rye are becoming increasingly popular. This includes the oh-so-photogenic charcoal bread. Interestingly, for many years white bread was the preference of the upper classes, while those who were less well-off ate darker breads. Nowadays, the superior nutritional value of darker breads means those varieties are often more expensive and held in higher regard. And this jet-black charcoal bread is a prime example of a wellness-boosting dark roll! No matter what you call it or how you shape it, our charcoal bread is both mouth-wateringly tasty and good for your gut.
The perfect bake: our charcoal bread roll recipe
One of the great things about making bread is how versatile it is – and how simple. It’s easy to create all sorts of delicious breads with just a few tweaks to the basic underlying recipe. For example, you’ll notice that our charcoal bread ingredients are essentially the same as normal bread ingredients. All it really requires is the addition of our activated charcoal powder. You’ll see that the recipe calls for a teaspoon of light brown sugar. It might sound strange to add sugar to a savoury bread, but what this does is help feed the yeast. This jump-starts the fermentation process and ensures that the bread rises. Adding sugar can also give your bread a softer texture. If you’d prefer not to use sugar, you can opt for a tiny dash of honey or agave nectar instead. Doing so may require you to use slightly less water in the bake to compensate for the extra liquid.