You know when you love to bake pretty much anything, but there's always the one thing that you just cant seem to crack ? Well for me it's been bread, to the point of being in tears of frustration at something always going wrong and in the end just keeping well away from it ...
And then came my application for The Great British Bake Off. Having applied for the 3rd time this year, and thinking like i did the previous year, that i wouldn't hear anything, I didn't even give practicing it as a thought just in case.
But low and behold I got the call to go to the first round of auditions and just as much as i were dreading it, the applicants were required to bake a loaf of bread. To cut a long story short I have never baked as much bread in those 2 months of the application process than i have in my whole life and thankfully nearly 6 months on i can say that bread and i are friends, and no longer sworn enemies.
So if the thought of baking a loaf fills you with sheer dread (like it did me) give this simple bloomer a go.. It's a small loaf so the dough is easy to work with, and cooks in less than an hour so you're not waiting for what feels like forever for it to cook
To make a simple bloomer loaf you will need:
500g bread flour
2 tsp salt
2 tsp dried yeast
3 tbsp olive oil
315-320 ml cold water
- Start by adding the flour to a bowl, add the yeast to one side, and the salt opposite to the yeast - this stops them from interacting and activating the yeast before the dough is formed.
- Pour the oil into the middle of the flour. Slowly add in the water and mix all the ingredients together using your hands.
- Keep adding the water until you get a soft and slightly sticky - but not wet dough.
- Lightly oil your work surface - i used 2 tablespoons. Turn out the dough and use both hands to knead the dough till it's smooth and shiny.
- Place the dough back into a clean bowl, and cover with lightly oiled cling film, (this helps the dough to stop sticking to the cling film if it touches)
and leave it to rise till doubled in size - mine took just over an hour and a half
- Once the dough has doubled in size, knock the dough back by gently punching the dough to knock the air out.
- Lightly flour your work surface and knead the dough again for a couple of minutes, and roll into a chunky baton/ cylinder shape or if you find it easier just into a round, and tuck in the edges neatly.
- Place the shaped dough onto a greaseproof lined baking tray. Cover again with either cling film or a large clean carrier bag and leave again to rise till doubled in size - The second prove took 2 hours for me*
- Once your bloomer has doubled in size, sprinkle the top with water, then a little flour and gently rub all over the top being careful to not knock out the air. Then cut 3-4 diagonal slashes across the top about 1-2 cm deep.
- Preheat your oven to 200c, and place a tray of water at the bottom of your oven, this helps the bread to get a nice crusty top, put the loaf in and bake for 25 mins, then lower the temperature to 180c and bake for a final 15 minutes. Once cooked it sound hollow when you tap the base.
* With the proving of your dough, it may take longer or quicker depending on how cold or warm your environment is. My kitchen is very cool first thing in the morning which is when i normally start my dough for any bread