This was always my grandmother’s loaf of choice from the local newsagent in South Wales, which was one of those shops which sold everything, including fresh bread every day. When I was very little – 6 or 7 – she taught me how to make bloomer bread in their kitchen during one of our stays with them. The taste of the bungy white bread, crusty edges and lashings of butter (real, of course, it was 1985) is a memory which stays with me to this day.
I’ve made various different kinds of bread and bread rolls over the years, but with lockdown a reality and kids to entertain, I sent about learning (remembering?) how make a bloomer loaf. From scratch. Here is the recipe, taken from the Master Baker himself Paul Hollywood, whose bloomer instructions didn’t let me down.
Bloomer Loaf Ingredients
- 500g strong white flour (plus extra flour for kneading)
- 10g salt
- 1 x 7g sachet of instant yeast
- 320ml cold water
- 40ml olive oil (plus a little extra for kneading)
- Extra oil and flour, for kneading (in case you missed that instruction)
Method for making Bloomer Bread
- Place the dry ingredients (flour, salt and yeast) in a bowl, making sure you don’t let the salt and yeast touch. For any Ghostbusters fans out there, “Don’t cross the streams!”
- Then, add the oil and 240ml/9fl oz of water.
- Using your hands (yes, you’re going to have get down and dirty), mix the ingredients together.
- Gradually add the remaining water (note: you may not need it all), until all the flour drops away from the side of mixing bowl and you have a rough, soft, pliable dough.
- Pour a little olive oil onto a clean work surface (kitchen worktop, table etc).
- Place the dough on the oil and begin to knead gently. After 5-10 minutes, you should find that the dough becomes silky and smooth. This is the consistency you’re after. Once achieved, place the dough into a clean, oiled bowl. Cover with cling film (or other airtight material) and leave in a warm place until tripled in size. “Warm” in this context would be a warm room, say around 25 degrees Celsius. If I’m pushed for time I will prove in a super-low oven, where the temperature might be somewhere around 40-50 degrees Celsius (but you’re not really supposed to prove in an oven which is on!
- Once the dough has risen and tripled in size, place the dough onto a floured surface.
- Fold the dough back on itself repeatedly. Do this until you feel all the air is knocked out of the mixture and the dough is smooth. This might take 5-10 minutes.
- Now you need to make the classic bloomer bread shape.
- First, flatten the dough gently into a rectangle. The long side of the dough should be facing you. Fold each end into the middle then roll like a Swiss roll (I know, confusing, that’s another recipe!) so that you have a smooth top with a seam along the base. Very gently roll with the palm of your hands.
- Place the dough on a flat baking tray lined with parchment paper. Cover and leave to prove for 1-2 hours at room temperature, or until doubled in size. I use disposable proving bags, which are like giant see-through carrier bags. It is a bit fiddly to use, as you have to prop up the top of the bag (I use wine glasses, they are about the right height) so it doesn’t tough/stick to the dough. Alternatively, you can use a 2lb loaf tin at this stage if you prefer a little more structure.
- Once proved, lightly spray with water (I use one of those little plastic plant sprayers, but something like an atomiser would work as well) and dust with a little flour.
- The classic Bloomer signature now: make four diagonal slashes using a sharp knife across the top. The knife must be sharp or you’ll just ‘pull’ the dough rather than cut it, and it will look very messy!
- Preheat the oven to 220C (430F). Place a baking tray filled with water on the bottom shelf of the oven – this is a great technique to learn and will create steam when the loaf is baking. Place the loaf in the middle of the oven and bake for 25 minutes.
- After this time lower the temperature to 200C (390F) and bake for a further 10 minutes.
- When you take it out of the oven it should have a lovely deep brown colour and sound hollow when you tap it on its bottom.
- Leave to cool on a wire rack.
Equipment you will need to make Bloomer Bread
Perfect for proving your dough. This pack comes with 50 large (24” x 36” or 60cm x 90cm) polythene bags made from natural clear polythene. Suitable not just for proving bread but for a number of other uses as well. Bags can be used with heat sealing equipment, or just tied.
This is what you’ll need to line the baking tray for the dough before it goes in the oven. 29cm in width. With this paper these is no need for grease, either on the tin/tray or the paper. The smooth silicone covering makes it perfectly non-stick. The box includes a decent cutting blade – with sharp teeth, so be careful if you have little ones around.
For the fine mist of water – very important – you’ll need to add to the bloomer after proving. Don’t be tempted to run under a dripping tap, you want a fine spray. This pack has two 100ml clear, atomising bottles.