Skip to main content

Coconut croissants

Coconut croissants

LIAM MOGAN

DARK MATTER

The all-black palette that has become ubiquitous in everything from supercars to timepieces is creeping into the world of cuisine. KAREN PINCHIN introduces the most curious additions to baking this autumn – charcoal and squid ink. Recipes by MICHAEL ELLIOTT. Photography by LIAM MOGAN

In the winter of 1783, Grimod de la Reynière, a wealthy Parisian known as the "prince of gastronomes," served a black banquet staged as a funeral. In a candlelit hall adorned with black bunting, dishes were served to guests who were flanked by their own coffins. After being accused of madness, the eccentric host ordered the doors locked and guests were held hostage until almost dawn.

It is in this tradition that we are both attracted to and repelled by black breads. Not to be confused with dark Russian-style pumpernickel loaves, these breads are truly black, tinted with squid ink or powdered, food-grade charcoal. Big in Japan for years now, the trend is finally hitting North American menus.

For Ottawa chef Antonio Vacchio of Zolas Restaurant, the initial allure of black pizza crust was aesthetic. Using Indonesian coconut charcoal powder he orders online, Vacchio flavours his black dough with fennel pollen and rosemary, pinching it with white dough for a two-toned pizza. "It's a cool conversation piece," he says. "When it comes out of the oven, when you brush it with a bit of olive oil, it really pops."

Story continues below advertisement

One challenge for bakers is that it's nearly impossible to see when these breads are ready, as the tint obscures the rich chestnut-brown of a perfect crust. "When you're dealing with black bread, you never get to see that. So you have to be on it," says Vancouver baker and Tartine alum Annabelle Choi, who uses fine charcoal sourced from bamboo. "Even in the smallest amounts, you're changing the structure of your dough to make it more billowy, softer," she says.

And while the hue is striking, she says diners are often uncomfortable with it. "Visually, things that have gone black, we associate with carbon or mould. In nature we're attracted to things that are bright and full of colour," she says. "It jolts us because it's going against what we know. But if your foundation is black and then you have a garnish that's the exact opposite, it's jarring – and quite stunning."

Food styling and recipe creation by Michael Elliott for Judy Inc. Prop styling by Stephanie Saunders for Judy Inc.


ARTISANAL MATTE BLACK DINNER PLATE, $12 THROUGH WWW.INDIGO.CA. AERO BLACK COLLECTION KNIFE, SET OF 5 FOR $89.95 THROUGH WWW.CRATEANDBARREL.CA.

ARTISANAL MATTE BLACK DINNER PLATE, $12 THROUGH WWW.INDIGO.CA. AERO BLACK COLLECTION KNIFE, SET OF 5 FOR $89.95 THROUGH WWW.CRATEANDBARREL.CA.

LIAM MOGAN

Coconut croissants

Making croissants from scratch takes time, so start this recipe on Friday evening if you plan to serve them at Sunday brunch. Read more…


Korean fried-chicken sandwich. (ARTISANAL MATTE BLACK DIPPING BOWL, $5 THROUGH WWW.INDIGO.CA.)

Korean fried-chicken sandwich. (ARTISANAL MATTE BLACK DIPPING BOWL, $5 THROUGH WWW.INDIGO.CA.)

LIAM MOGAN

Korean fried-chicken sandwich

The hot dog buns created for this recipe are tinted with squid ink. Read more…

Story continues below advertisement


Ham and Gruyère pizza

Ham and Gruyère pizza

LIAM MOGAN

Ham and Gruyère pizza

Colourful toppings including cherry tomatoes, ham and parsley oil stand out on this tonal take on a gourmet pie. Read more…

Report an error Editorial code of conduct
Comments

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • All comments will be reviewed by one or more moderators before being posted to the site. This should only take a few moments.
  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

Comments that violate our community guidelines will be removed. Commenters who repeatedly violate community guidelines may be suspended, causing them to temporarily lose their ability to engage with comments.

Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.