French bakery launches black baguette made with charcoal

In one Normandy bakery, baguette fans can sample a new twist on the traditional French bread: a black baguette, made with charcoal.

The bakers started incorporating active charcoal into their bread because of its traditional use to treat digestive problems, as a natural detoxifier.

Active charcoal is a form of carbon which has been treated to have a larger surface area and lots of small pores, making it absorbant and reactive, and it has a long history of medicinal use.

The unusual black baguette is on sale at the Rose Boulangerie in Vernon, northern France, and apart from the charcoal, it is made following a traditional recipe.

That means an additive-free flour, and no improver – a mix of food additives which make dough easier to work with. Instead, baker Benjamin Rose buys charcoal from his local pharmacy.

“Customers should be able to buy a baguette without any additives or improvers at their local boulangerie,” Rose told FranceInfo, explaining his motivation for making the dark-hued baguette.

According to the baker, the typical baguette contains a total of 14 additives.

The black baguettes are on sale at €1.40 each, and have so far proved popular with customers. In their first month on the shelves, more than 300 were sold, and the bakery plans to double production.

Baguettes are so important to the French way of life that there are competitions dedicated to finding the perfect baguette and even a “Bread Observatory” that keeps track of French bread consumption and encourages people to stop by the bakery every day.