The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

BBQ Rub in Bread

Srodbro's picture
Srodbro

BBQ Rub in Bread

We have really grown to like the bold taste of Trader Joe’s (TM) BBQ rub with coffee and garlic (label ingredients include: coffee, brown sugar, sea salt, sugar, roasted garlic and onion flakes, smoked paprika, red bell pepper, clemengold rind, and paprika oil). 

I’d really like to get these flavors into a bread to go with BBQ meat. 

Any suggestions?

BreadLee's picture
BreadLee

I often make breads with spices etc. Imho I would simply add a reasonable amount of the rub,  depending on your batch size, to your flour.  Stir it into the dry flour.  This works well for me.  Maybe 1 tbl for a 3 cup  batch?  Then adjust to your taste. 

Mix a half batch for test purposes if you wish. 

Lazy Loafer's picture
Lazy Loafer

I wonder if it would make a difference to infuse the rub into some oil before mixing it into the dough? Depends on the type of dough you make, I suppose. I've got a similar rub that I got at a coffee plantation in Hawaii that I could try. I think I'd use mostly unbleached bread flour so the flavour of the rub comes through; maybe a bit of white whole wheat in the mix. 

David R's picture
David R

It may also depend on what's included in the rub itself - some flavour substances might dissolve in water (maybe not many do?), some dissolve in oil, and others dissolve in alcohol. (And occasionally, you might get a "dissolves in none of the above" case.)

With that in mind, to be truly certain of top-notch results, maybe it would be best to dissolve your rub into a heated mixture made from one-third water, one-third bacon grease, and one-third vodka. 😁

SeasideJess's picture
SeasideJess

Remember to account for the salt in the rub and keep your salt percentage in your final mixture correct for your recipe. Too much salt will impede fermentation by locking the water up so that the yeast can't use it. 

Srodbro's picture
Srodbro

So .... I mixed up a batch. As a starting point I used a white bread recipe that I’m familiar with:

APFlour: 100%; Yeast, 1%; Salt, 1%; Sugar, 5%; Butter, 4%;Water, 10%; Milk, 59%. 

I substituted 32% Water and 32% Wheat Beer for the water and milk ( I don’t know why ... it just felt right at the time, thinking of what goes good with BBQ flavors!). 

The question then became how much rub to use. The two ingredients in the rub common with the bread recipe were salt and sugar, but I didn’t know how much of each was in the TJRub. I found several copycat Trader Joe’s (TM) Rub recipes on the Internet, which were all surprisingly identical. I experimented by measuring a teaspoon of each ingredient and weighing it, and determined that Salt made up 14% of the Rub, and sugar made up 36% of the Rub, by weight. I decided to add enough Rub to the experimental bread recipe to make the Salt content equal the Salt required by the white bread recipe. Then, I would add enough sugar so that these two components (salt and sugar) matched my white bread recipe. All the other Rub ingredients would then be additions to flavor the loaf. In the end, the Rub wound up being a 56 gram portion (about 6% of the total formula), a bit over half of a 100 gram container of Rub. At about $5 for a can of Rub, this was becoming a pricey loaf of bread! ( Ahh, but what price limits can be put on the pursuit of pure science?). I made enough for two, 1 1/2 lb loaves. 

The loaf rose well, browned just a tad darker than my white bread does, but had no discernible, unique aroma while baking. After the loaf cooled, I sliced. The crumb was slightly darker than a white loaf, with similar texture and a few reddish-brown flecks throughout. Smelled yeasty, but not particularly so. Maybe more beer-y than bread-y. 

Came time for tasting. What a surprise!  The taste of the crumb, while faintly sweet, was almost indistinguishable from plain white bread! The crust left a very slight, lingering aftertaste of burnt coffee. No hints of garlic; no paprika flavor; no smokeyness. Toasting a slice made little difference. Nothing like the sweet, spicy flavor reminiscent of BBQ I was shooting for. I was reminded of my old microbiology prof’s quote of Hinkley’s Law:”Most experiments are failures”. 

I think, as was mentioned in a response above, that to release those BBQ flavors, something like cooking the rub in hot oil might be needed for the paprika and garlicky flavors, and maybe something to carmelize the sugar. Maybe, substituting drippings from ribs for the butter, or maybe the scrapings of crust from the grill grate would get me closer. And, then again, maybe you just can’t make bread taste like BBQ rubbed meat. 

I’ll probably give this a try again  sometime, but not soon. Meantime, I’ll have to satisfy my BBQ cravings with ribs. 

Lazy Loafer's picture
Lazy Loafer

I tried a version too. I made a poolish with 50 g of water and 50 g of white whole wheat flour, then when it was ready made a 123 dough (100 g of poolish, 200 g of water and 300 g of unbleached bread flour). I used 1/8 tsp of yeast in both the poolish and the final dough, and cut the salt in the dough down to 3 g. I had mixed 1 Tbsp of the BBQ rub into 1 Tbsp of olive oil at the same time as making the poolish, so after the initial mix of the dough I drizzled in the infused oil. 

The dough was lovely and silky, and easy to handle, though it was a bit difficult getting the oil distributed properly with the stretch & folds. I let it sit at room temp for a couple of hours then put it in the fridge overnight. In the morning I shaped it into a longish loaf and proofed it, then baked it in a covered granite ware roaster. Normally I would bake on granite stones, but didn't have the oven set up for that.

The dough proofed well, but there wasn't too much oven spring (possibly close to peak proofing, plus baking in the roaster instead of on the stones). 

The crust is lovely - more tender than a lean bread as a result of the oil. I could smell the spice and coffee faintly on the crust as it baked and after baking and cooling. Slicing it once cooled revealed a fairly even crumb, nicely moist and springy. There is a bit of a marble because of not getting the oil distributed well but it looks nice. :)

I had some toasted for breakfast this morning. With just butter, I can taste both the spiciness and the coffee, but only slightly. The taste is concentrated in the crust so it makes sense that toasting the rub in the oil first would enhance the flavour (I just infused the spice in cold oil). The texture is lovely but that's to be expected in a poolish bread made with oil. Good experiment!

SeasideJess's picture
SeasideJess

Since you found those copy cat recipes, you might make a version of the rub without the salt and sugar. Then you could double or triple or quadruple the amount and bloom it in the recipe fat in a skillet until it's very aromatic before adding it to your dough. 

Edit: LazyLoafer that sounds amazing!

David R's picture
David R

Maybe it works better if you slice your uncooked dough into 2-inch slabs, put the rub on the outside, and grill it for 5 minutes per side. 😁

Srodbro's picture
Srodbro

The comment that suggested blooming the spices in fat prior to adding to the dough mix struck a cord in my brain while I was preparing some patties of pork breakfast sausage that had been coated with the rub. Why not use the fat from the frying pan, along with the crusty, “fond” bits, for the fat portion of the bread?  The taste of the pan grease was just what I was looking for. So I did. 

Alas, not much difference from the first try. Crumb flecked with dark spots, but not much increase in BBQ flavor. As suggested, I may need to grossly increase the quantity of rub that gets bloomed in the pan fat ( a lot of the rub flavor was certainly lost into the sausages).