This Basic Bloomer is easy enough for even a beginning bread baker. It's got a great crust on top but stays soft inside. You're gonna want to use it for everything.
I love taking on new challenges and new projects. If life is too easy, I get bored. Perhaps this is why I've moved around so much. I like telling myself that it's because I'm so smart, and I just have to keep my brain active. More likely it's just because I'm trying to avoid something I don't want to deal with. Keeping my mind busy stops me from spiraling into depression, so I take on new challenges.
Last year, I decided I wanted to get better at bread baking. I still have a ton to learn, but I think I've made some slight growth. It's not like I've been super dedicated to the endeavor. I know some people bake bread every week. I've made maybe eight to ten loaves this year of different varieties. Some have come out beautifully, like this Basic Bloomer, and others have been pretty awful.
Bread baking is not something you can really learn from a book or a video. Bread is alive, and it's different every time you make it. There are half a dozen variables that can affect your dough on any given day, from the temperature and humidity of your kitchen on the day to the particular batch of flour you're working with. There's chemistry and biology going on in there. Fermentation, alchemy, and a bunch of other stuff I don't really understand. Bread baking is all about how things feel, and for that, you probably really need a teacher. And tons of experience.
Well, books and videos are all I have at the moment, unless someone wants to come to my house and be my bread guru. But just from reading a really helpful book, Paul Hollywood's Bread, I was able to create a reliable result with this Basic Bloomer. If you're interested in learning the art of bread baking, I'd highly recommend this book. There are lots of step by step pictures for things like kneading and shaping your loaf that you can only learn by lots and lots of practice.
This particular Basic Bloomer loaf came out a bit dark on top because I have the worst oven in the world. Yours will probably be a bit less brown. But even with this flaw, I couldn't stop eating this bread. It didn't last long enough to become sandwiches. It barely lasted long enough to be a soup dipper. The pillowy softness of this bread is unbelievable. I kept going back for slice after slice, eaten simply with salted butter. I may have had this bread with butter and honey for dessert one night.
If, like me, you're a bit intimidated by homemade bread, this Basic Bloomer will help you overcome your fears. I promise, you can do it. And even if it comes out looking a little wonky, it's still going to be completely delicious. Let's bake bread, friends. It's gonna be awesome.
500 grams strong white flour or bread flour, plus more for dusting
10 grams salt
7 grams fast acting yeast
40 ml olive oil
320 ml water
- Add the flour to a large mixing bowl, then add the salt to one side of the bowl and the yeast to the other. Pour in the oil, and about 240 ml of your water. Use the fingers of one hand to mix this all together using a clawing motion. Add the remaining water a little at a time until you've brought all the flour in and you have a soft and somewhat sticky dough. You may not need all the water.
- Spray a little oil on a clean counter or work surface to keep your dough from sticking without adding too much extra flour. Knead the dough for about 10 minutes until it's smooth and stretchy.
- Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl big enough for it to grow. Cover with a clean kitchen towel and leave to rise until about triple in size. This can take anywhere from 1-½ hours to 3 hours depending on the temperature in your kitchen. Be patient.
- Once your dough is risen, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface and knock it back by folding the dough over itself a few times and gently pushing out the air.
- To shape your loaf, flatten the dough into a rectangle with the long side facing you. Fold the back long edge toward you into the middle, the fold the front long side on top of the other fold, like a wallet. Turn the loaf over so the seam side is down. Tuck the ends under to make an oval shape. Give it a bit of a jiggle down the length of the loaf to gently form it into a slightly longer oval.
- Put your loaf on its baking tray lined with parchment or a silicone baking mat for a second rise. Cover your loaf with a clean kitchen towel and let it rise for about an hour or until it's doubled in size.
- While your bread is rising, preheat your oven to 220 C (425 F) and put a roasting pan in the bottom of your oven.
- Just before the bread goes in the oven, spray or lightly sprinkle it with water, then dust it with flour. Use a sharp knife to make 4 diagonal slashes at a 45 degree angle.
- Before the dough actually goes in, add about 1 litre of water to that roasting pan to create some steam. Then put your baking sheet on the middle rack and bake for 25 minutes. Lower to oven to 200 C (400 F) and bake for another 10-15 minutes until your crust is brown. To check your loaf is cooked properly, tap the bottom of the loaf to see if it sounds hollow. Leave to cool on a wire rack.
Recipe adapted from Paul Hollywood's Bread.