TikToker Thug Loaf Transforms Bread Into Iconic Album Covers – Exclusive

With nearly 350,000 followers and over 30 million likes on TikTok, Iain Ross (aka Thug Loaf) is taking the music world by storm one bread loaf at a time. The TikTok sensation has a knack for painting album covers by popular artists like Paramore, Queen, SZA, Taylor Swift, and others on bread loaves. In an exclusive interview with Mashed, Ross explains how his viral bread-making reputation came to be, the process behind his signature bread album covers, and how he chooses the right ingredients for the best loaf. 

It all started in 2019 with a personal Instagram account designed to track the growth of his skills. By 2021, it had become much more. "Music's always been a huge part of my life, and I wanted to tie it in with my baking somehow. I started posting videos of me making bread on TikTok, using music that people didn't normally expect from a baking account — a lot of underground music I was into at the time," Ross says. 

It turns out that this was a niche waiting to be filled. As his account engagement soared, TikTok, X (formerly known as Twitter), and Reddit users dubbed him: "The Drained Baker." With his rising popularity, Ross wanted to find new ways to combine his interests. "I cut up a little stencil of one of my favorite artist's logos and dusted flour over it on my dough to reveal the design. It all just snowballed from there," Ross explains. Baking bread quickly became a major part of his life.

An inside look at his process

The goal was to bake a loaf of bread featuring a new artist every day, and the demanding schedule prompted Iain Ross to experiment with various artistic techniques. First, he expanded to more complex stencils and charcoal dusting powder. Then, he tested mixtures of water and powdered food coloring as edible paint. Eventually, portraits of artists developed into the intricate album covers fans know him for today. Ross starts by printing an album cover on food-safe paper using Adobe Photoshop and Cricut. With natural food coloring, he layers the main colors of the selected cover in the dough to create a marbled effect.


TV GIRL – FRENCH EXIT (2014) BREAD #tvgirl #frenchexit #tvgirltiktok #sourdough

♬ Lovers Rock – TV Girl

"After it's proofed and ready to bake, I'll pop it in the freezer for a couple of hours to stop the dough proofing and create a solid canvas on the top of the dough to paint on," Ross says. Once it's ready for painting, he only has about 30 to 45 minutes before the dough is too soft. He works quickly by tracing a rough outline with the stencil and free-handing the rest of the details. When he's happy with his creation, "It gets cut into a square with a razor blade and baked in a Dutch oven until golden brown," he says. Whether it's a Green Day album or a Playboi Carti album, the carved square rises above the loaf and mimics the shape of recognizable CDs or vinyl covers.

The best bread and album combo

Over the years, Iain Ross has developed his own style of bread-making. For each creation, he uses a hybrid yeasted and sourdough recipe. According to Ross, the key to achieving the perfect canvas is to get it as flat as possible, and the yeasted-sourdough mixture ensures few to no cracks. For his purposes, it's the easiest bread to make. "Ideally, I'd love to do 100% sourdough, but the problem with 100% sourdough is it causes lots of blisters when baked and can make the art less defined," he says. Of course, the quality of the art is as essential as the bread. 

The chosen album covers are based on personal preference and requests. Ross notes that he's not shy to try one of the hundred daily recommendations he receives, and you can identify his current musical tastes through the loaves. Since he's an artist, the original album art gets prioritized on his to-do list if it has an interesting design. His eye for bread-worthy albums has even helped establish his success. "I've worked with loads of my favorite artists and record labels, sent loaves to U.S. rappers, worked on campaigns with massive brands like Burger King, and I try to uplift smaller artists that I think deserve more recognition," he says. Through his art, "Thug Loaf" has become an icon in an unlikely combination of industries, and per his Instagram bio, he's proof that you can (and should) "eat the music."