In today’s post, I’m going to be discussing bloomer bread, what it is and how you can use it along with some tips on how to make the best bloomer.
Bloomer bread is an oblong-shaped white loaf with rounded ends which is made using strong white bread flour, yeast and water. The loaf is shaped by hand and diagonal lines are slashed across the top of the loaf before baking to create the classic bloomer bread look.
Read on to find out more about bloomer bread and it’s uses and tips on how to make the best bloomer.
Why is bloomer bread called bloomer bread?
Bloomer bread got its name from the process used for the proving process of the dough. Proving is the name for rising the dough for the second time in the intended bread shape.
Instead of rising bread in a bread tin and relying on the support of the bread tin to keep it in the correct shape, the bread is allowed to ‘bloom’ as it rises on a baking tray.
This is where the term ‘bloomer’ came from and it’s a technique used for similar loaves in the current day.
Bloomer bread flavour and texture
The freeform rising process used to prove the bloomer bread dough helps to create a crusty bread with a soft crumb.
The shaped bread can be left to prove for longer on a baking tray than a bread tin dough can be left. Longer rising helps to create a crispier crust with a stronger bread flavour.
Where did bloomer bread originate from
Bloomer bread is said to have originated from London bakeries and dates back to world war II. Although some sources say bloomer bread dates back further than this.
Bread was a staple part of the diet in wartime as many other foods were scarce but flour was generally available, although mixed with other types of flour.
Is bloomer bread made with white or brown flour?
Although you tend to see more white bloomer loaves, it can be made using various type of bread flours depending on personal taste and the outcome you’re looking for.
Here are just some bread flours you can use (other than strong white bread flour) to create a bloomer style loaf:
- Wholemeal or brown strong bread flour.
- Granary bread flour or a malted alternative.
- White or brown spelt flour.
- Rye flour or a rye/wheat mix (but be aware it doesn’t rise that well)
You can also use a mix of white and brown flour to create a lighter brown loaf.
Tips on how to make a good bloomer loaf
How to create the bloomer bread shape
Creating the classic bloomer shape is done by hand after the dough has risen (at least doubled in size in a bowl for the first time).
Follow the steps below to shape the bread:
- Once the dough has risen, scrape it onto an oiled or lightly floured surface.
- Flatten the dough out slightly and with your fists to create a rough rectangular shape.
- Start folding the dough in on its self from each side to create an oblong shape.
- Repeat until you have a tight and smooth top.
- Turn the bread over so the seams are facing down and do some final shaping with the sides of your hands.
- Place on an oiled baking sheet and leave to prove until the dough has doubled in size.
Creating slashes in bloomer bread
Bloomer bread has distinctive diagonal slashes across the top of the loaf. As well as looking decorative, these slashes are also functional too as they help the bread to expand as it rises.
The dough is slashed after it’s proved on the baking tray and slashes are around an inch (2.5cm) apart.
The best way to slash the dough is by using a sharp serrated knife or small bread knife. If the knife isn’t serrated, it tends to drag the dough which can cause the dough to deflate.
Slashes don’t need to be too deep (around 1/2cm), the deeper you go the wider the grooves will be on the finished loaf.
I like to leave the bread to rise for another 10 minutes before I place it in the oven to help the dough regain any lost rise after it’s slashed.
How to create softer bloomer bread
Bloomer bread traditionally has a crusty outer crust and a soft crumb interior. Good crusty bread can be achieved by using a basic flour, yeast, salt and water recipe.
When well risen and proved, you can create a light crumb with just these basic ingredients, while cooking the bread at a high heat will create a dark golden crispy crust which is full of flavour.
The downside of using just the basic flour, yeast, salt and water technique is the bread won’t last that long and will generally go dry after 24 hours of baking.
You can create a softer bread which lasts longer by incorporating some fat into the recipe and the best way of adding fat to a bloomer dough is by adding some butter to the dough recipe.
The amount of butter you add depends on the amount of flour used in the recipe. If the flour content is 500g, I use 30-40g of softened butter in the dough mix.
You can also achieve a soft dough by replacing some of the water content with milk. Milk helps to create a softer dough with a creamy colour.
How to stop a bloomer dough spreading as it rises
One of the main problems you can encounter when proving a bloomer loaf is the dough spreading instead of rising up. There are a few ways you can prevent this from happening:
- Don’t make the dough too wet – although good hydration is good for texture, if it’s too wet it will become difficult to handle.
- Create a good tight top when shaping the loaf – a good shape will help the dough to rise upwards instead of spreading.
- Don’t let the dough over-prove – if the dough proves too far it can start to collapse back in on itself. The dough should be well risen but not to airy that it starts to sink.
TIP: Not sure if you have all the necessary bread baking equipment at home? Check out my recommended picks below (Amazon links):
- Scale: Nicewell 22lb Digital Kitchen Scale
- Mixing Bowls: OXO Stainless Mixing Bowls Set
- Pastry Scraper: OXO Stainless Pastry Scraper
- Loaf Pan: OXO Non-stick Loaf Pan
- Kitchen Thermometer: ThermoPro Digital Thermometer
- Stand Mixer (optional): Kenwood Kmix Stand Mixer
Ways to use bloomer bread
Because bloomer bread traditionally has a crispy crust and a soft centre, it works well as an accompaniment to soups and stews.
A good-sized bloomer creates slices which work well as sandwich bread for any kind of filling.
Homemade bloomer bread also makes a really good toasted sandwich or crispy toast with jam or marmalade.
Enriched bloomer bread
Bloomer bread dough can be enriched to make the flavour and texture of the bread more interesting, especially if you’re making a smaller loaf. Here are some ingredient ideas you can add to enrich the dough:
- Spelt flour with mixed seeds – Spelt flour has a unique slightly sweet yet nutty flavour. Use a brown spelt flour with a large handful of mixed seeds to create a nutty textured bread which is full of flavour.
- Add Medertarainian flavours such as sun-dried tomatoes and or chopped olives.
- Cheese and onion – use a flavourful cheese along with some caramelised red or brown onion.
Until next time…
I hope this post has helped you to learn more about bloomer bread and it’s uses – give the bloomer shaping technique a try, it’s well worth it and you’ll be impressed with the outcome.
You might also like the following posts:
Types of bread – the ultimate guide of bread from around the world