When my kids were little, it was always a challenge to get real food into them between their classroom Halloween parties and evening trick-or-treating. I might’ve had more success had I known how to make this spider bread. Now, I’m planning to make this every year as a fun Halloween food that tastes great for both kids and grown-ups.
The black color of the bread comes from activated charcoal powder, which I’ve had in my pantry since making Dan Leader’s Baguette au Charbon Vegetal a few years ago. Actually, you might notice that the spider dough bears some resemblance to Leader’s baguette dough. I used 200g sourdough starter instead of 200g yeast poolish; plus olive oil to limit oven spring and flour that sits between refined and whole grain. Don’t worry too much about oven spring though, because it’s wonderful extra Halloween “ew” if your spider oozes out some cheese when baking.
Charcoal dough is quite beautiful, if a little disconcerting, and the charcoal doesn’t have much if any flavor. Activated charcoal powder is considered fine to consume infrequently and in small amounts, but large amounts (e.g. multiple loaves of this bread in one sitting) might interfere with your absorption of medications.
When I proposed the idea of a black dough spider bread, Eric had the awesome idea of making it specifically a black widow spider. These spiders have a red spot on their bodies, so I tried to think of a red-tinged seed I could put on the crust. I couldn’t come up with anything but maybe some Breadtopia community members will comment with ideas. I’m always excited to make bread as a meal, so it was an easy choice to redirect my plans to putting a red marinara dipping sauce in the spider’s body. I also stuffed the legs and head of the spider with mozzarella cheese. Throw a salad on the table with the spider and dinner is served!
I used Breadtopia’s bolted all purpose flour for this bread. It’s an 85% extraction flour from our hard red winter wheat berries that’s mild in flavor, has more nutrients than white flour, and performs really nicely through all the rolling and shaping of this dough.
You should see this recipe as a framework on which you can build all sorts of creative ingredient and design variations:
- Change how you divide the dough, taking away mass from the head and making the legs longer instead–or give your spider more legs, making it a Halloween mutant that breaks the 8-leg rule. (The legs are the most fun to eat.)
- Add Italian herbs like oregano and basil to the dough.
- Make it a “hairy” or patterned spider using different seeds on the crust.
- Skip the charcoal powder and make a golden spider.
- Fill the legs and head with more cheese, such as entire cheese sticks in the legs or a block of mozzarella in the head.
- Fill the body with cheese too and then score the dough before baking to help it explode gory-style.
- Skip the cheese and the dipping sauce; instead slice the baked spider in a macabre way, and set up butter etc. on the side.
- Skip the cheese, make (or buy) a cold veggie dip and surround the spider with chopped veggies for dipping.