You may have noticed that I tend to lean towards the quirky and leftfield when it comes to the things I pick to bake. Like a magpie that's spotted something shiny, if there's a recipe that uses unusual ingredients or that sounds so bonkers you wouldn't think it would work - that's the one I'll choose. Roll on the bread recipe that calls for treacle, instant coffee, cocoa powder, carrot and caraway seeds among its 13 ingredients. This recipe for Black Bread looks like it was cut out of the Guardian Weekend and I thouroughly recommend it for entertainment value alone. Let me walk you through the bizarre instructions for this loopy loaf.
Black Bread Recipe
150g spelt, rye or wholemeal flour
7g easy-blend yeast
1 tsp muscovado sugar
2 tbsp cocoa
2 tbsp instant coffee
3 tsp fennel, caraway or cumin seeds
50g unsalted butter
150g coarsely grated carrot, parsnip or celeriac
325g strong white flour
2 tsp fine sea salt
1. Whisk 225ml cold water and 50g of the spelt/rye/wholemeal flour in a saucepan, bring to a boil, tip into a bowl and leave until lukewarm.
6. Rub a tablespoon of oil on both the worksurface and your hands, and give the dough a ten second knead.
8. Shape into a ball, put on an oiled baking tray, sprinkle with sesame seeds and put the whole tray inside a clean plastic bag or bin liner. Leave in a warm place for 45 minutes to an hour.
9. Preheat the oven to 220C. Cut a deep cross in the top of the dough and bake for 20 minutes, then drop the temperature to 180C and bake for 15-20 minutes more. Voila!
The verdict - a really lovely, unusual loaf of bread. I used caraway seeds which gave the bread quite a strong flavour, so I might try fennel or cumin seeds next time. The texture of the bread was really lovely with a soft and springy crumb, perfect for sandwiches as it doesn't crumble easily. It keeps very well - much longer than a regular loaf - although it doesn't really toast properly. Not an everyday bread, but definitely worth the effort and it is now top of my list for the most bizarre bread I've ever made.
PS. In case you've not made bread before, to highlight how wacky this recipe is I will tell you that the basic bread recipe only uses flour, yeast and water, which you simply mix, knead, leave to rise and bake. Boring!