what? bread?

a blog about making bread at home

Archive for the tag “bloomer”

my bread doesn’t rise

I’ve had quite a few people arriving at this blog because they are searching for reasons why their Paul Hollywood bloomer hasn’t risen. Obviously I don’t know why ‘yours’ didn’t go quite the way you wanted, but here are some points to look out for next time you try, in the order that they might have happened. You might have had several of these things not quite on the button which also would influence what happened.

  1. Water – the recipe says to add two thirds of the water first then gradually add the rest. Different types of flour absorb water at different rates, so you might not need all of the water. If you used a flour that couldn’t absorb it all, the dough would be sticky and hard to work. Try a bit less water next time. The dough should be easily workable but not sloppy and sticky. River Cottage bakers suggest 300ml to 500g of flour, so 320ml might be too much, but don’t go below 300ml.
  2. Flour – low gluten flour can affect the rise and make the bread dense and ‘cakey’ according to the River Cottage bakers. If you are new to bread baking make sure you are using ‘strong bread flour’. Supermarket brands are just fine for starters, also try Allinsons or Shipton Mill if you can get it.
  3. Oil – did it mix in with the yeast? Getting oil on the yeast can slow the activation of the yeast and your rising may have been slow as a result. Too much oil? If too much went in that can affect it as well.
  4. Temperature – of everything including the water. If your kitchen has been Baltic like mine recently, you might not have got much of a rise if the water was cold as recommended by Paul. I tend to use water that is 1:3 boiling to tap water just to get the yeast going. If your kitchen is nice and warm you can go cold. The water should not feel warm to the touch in any case. If your kitchen was Baltic, then the length of time you need to get everything going for both rises will be longer than Paul says, but bear in mind the touch test below. You can also warm your utensils if you think it is too cold, ie warm a ceramic bowl with hot water before starting.
  5. Adding extra flour to counteract the stickiness of too much water. If you found the dough hard to work because it was too wet and added extra flour it will have weighed the loaf down and made it less keen to rise.
  6. Kneading – River Cottage bakers might say you should knead more than you did. Dan Lepard might tell you that you don’t need to knead so much (see my blog on the bloomer loaf). So long as it got folded over a few times you’ll like as not get a loaf of some sort or other, but if you choose not to knead you should take it into account during the rising time and not leave it too long.
  7. Rising time – Paul says to leave until it has tripled in size – that could be too long and your yeast wore itself out. Other bakers like Dan Lepard say 50%. If the dough smelt yeasty when you knocked it down after the rise, then it might have been left too long. Not leaving it long enough can also make it solid and dense with a rubbery texture, so it is important to get it right. If your kitchen is toasty warm then you may have left it too long. If you kitchen is Baltic cold, you might not have left it long enough.
  8. Shaping – I like to fold mine over several times when I shape my loaves, so it was a bit taller than Paul’s but not so long. You can also fold it in a ‘blanket fold’ while it is rising, just to keep all the protein lined up and tight. So pat out into a rectangle fold top in, then bottom over, repeat twice during rising. Or add an extra set of fold during by turning through 90 degrees and do a double blanket fold. This fold can also be used for shaping.
  9. When to bake – Paul says to leave for 1 to 2 hours until doubled in size. Again, this could be too long, and Dan Lepard says 50% change in size again. You need to have some ‘spring’ left in the loaf. If you poke your loaf with a finger, does it spring back or leave a dent? If it leaves a dent, it is almost too late, and it could fail to rise in the oven. The loaf should spring back a bit before it goes in, so try getting it in a bit earlier next time.
  10. Oven temperature – Paul says 220C which is hot, but if your oven is not entirely accurate it might not be hot enough. Try upping the temperature by 10C next time and see how it goes, if that’s not enough keep going higher next time but reduce the time for the first stage in case it burns. If you’re stuck with a fan-only oven, put it on as hot as it will go. If the loaf still has some ‘spring’ then it will rise during the first stage when the oven is really hot. Then turn down if it looks like burning.

So lots to think about there. Keep trying and I’m sure you’ll end up with something beautiful soon. Other ways of making bread are available, and I’d encourage you to try a different approach such as some of Dan Lepard’s methods as they are less industrial and more suited to home baking.

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Salt in bread

Since I posted about making Paul Hollywood’s bloomer last week and pointed out that the salt content was a bit higher than recommended by the Campaign for Real Bread I’ve had quite a few hits by people looking for information about the salt content of that loaf and of bread in general. So just a quick post to summarise what I said and the advice you can find about salt in bread.

The basic Paul Hollywood bloomer has 10g of salt to 500g white flour, and that’s twice the amount recommended by the Real Bread Campaign for home bakers to use. They are following the advice of the Consensus Action on Salt and Health where you can find some quite startling facts about the effect of salt on health, specifically the evidence which links high levels of dietary salt with high blood pressure, which in turn can affect the chances of an individual having a stroke or heart attack, or contributing to the worsening of symptoms in a whole range of other things. So, salt is generally bad for you. The recommended daily maximum amount of salt in the diet of an adult is 6g. Most people have more than this, currently over 8g per day, and one of the major contributors has been found to be bread, which most people eat quite a lot of these days. Bread has accounted for 18% of salt in the diet, and is therefore an easy target for reduction. There have been successes in getting industrial bread producers to reduce the amount of salt in their baking, and most supermarket loaves have reduced it. However, some craft and other bakers still seem to think they are immune from the requirement to get their salt down, which is where the Campaign for Real Bread has stepped in.

I usually follow the advice of the campaign and use approximately one teaspoon per large loaf. I’ve made Paul’s bloomer and it really is quite salty if you use 10g of salt. If your palate is used to store-bought bread that comes in bags you’ll probably find the bloomer recipe too salty as most large retailers have reduced the salt in the bread that goes into supermarkets.

In Real Bread and industrial loaf baking salt in small quantities helps to:

  • Enhance flavour – if a loaf isn’t hanging about the kitchen for too long while it is rising, then it obviously helps to put some taste in.
  • Strengthen the gluten network
  • Aid the browning process
  • Act as a natural preservative – although I find real bread doesn’t hang about in our house and this isn’t a reason we need salt in our bread

The bloomer recipe uses olive oil, which is obviously not a traditional ingredient in British bloomers, and can be quite flavourful in its own right, so using extra salt doesn’t seem necessary to me.

Dan Lepard says in Short and Sweet to go up to two teaspoons of salt for 500g of flour and it won’t affect the rising of the bread. He also says you can leave the salt out but you might find that the dough is a little sticky to shape, that it rises faster, and that the bread doesn’t colour as quickly.

The guys over at River Cottage also recommend 10g of salt to 500g of flour, and even more if it is sourdough. Well, I think these people are going to have to adjust to the changing tastes of their customers.

So if, like me, your kitchen is cold, having the bread rise a little faster because you’ve left some of the salt out might also be a good thing. I also tend to use the half sponge method that Dan endorses in his white farmhouse loaf method. Half  of the mix sits on the counter for at least six hours while I go to work and it’s ready for me later. This long period gives the yeast time to do its stuff properly. Using wholemeal for the other half of the flour is also a great way of making bread that has some texture and flavour without resorting to the salt pot.

Also, if you’re baking for children, don’t forget they need a lot less salt in their diet than grown-up people do, so it is definitely a good thing to reduce salt in any bread that children may eat, even if you’ve made it yourself.

If you didn’t like Paul Hollywood’s bloomer first time round, reduce the salt and try again. You’ll soon find a level you like, and one that won’t add to your daily salt intake. However, if you like your bread salty then you might want to think about the other things you eat and how much other salt you’re eating. If you make a lot of your own food from scratch you can control what you add, but if you buy prepared food, or eat out a lot, then you might be getting more salt than you think, and maybe it is time for a review of salt.

Paul Hollywood’s Bloomer

First of all, it’s my blog’s birthday. what?bread? is one year old today. Thank you to everyone who’s ever taken a peak and I hope you’ve found what you’ve come looking for. If not, please leave a message or ask a question.

This month is going well and I hope to continue for another year at least! The public image of baking has gone from strength to strength this year with the rise of the Great British Bake Off and most recently the spin-off programme with Paul Hollywood.

The BBC has kindly asked the Silver Fox of Great British Bake-Off to put his money where his mouth his and make some programmes to show viewers how to make bread. If you’ve not seen the first episode, you can catch it on BBC i-player.

The first episode starts with a bloomer, followed swiftly by a ploughman’s loaf (lots of lovely brown flour and rye and oat topping), a malt loaf (versatile and could be made into a sort of bread and butter pudding), and a ‘trencher’ to use as a base for some lamb steaks and greenery. That’s all squeezed into half an hour alongside a nice look at a farmer and a miller who have a great working relationship near St Albans at Redbournbury.

I found it all quite exhausting to watch as Paul got stuck in to mixing and kneading, and boy does he knead strong, sometimes one in each hand! To the extent that I stopped watching what he was doing and started taking in the aesthetics of his kitchen and the slightly bonkers range of mixing bowls he had to use. It looked like the set designer had been given the run of John Lewis and got one of every type of bowl that looked like it would hold water. So the bloomer was mixed in a wooden bowl that looked like a salad bowl, then there’s a pyrex bowl for it to rise in, the ploughman’s loaf is made at the bakery at Redbournbury and is mixed in whatever they had, then back to Paul’s own kitchen for a nice white glazed bowl for the malt loaf, and then a blue coated steel bowl for the trencher.

However, that all sounds a bit mean, and you can find other reviews of the programme on the web.

So what about the bread? Well you can get the recipes online from the BBC, which is really what I pay my license fee for. I think they’ve tried to make the ingredients nice and simple, which is good, and so far only using instant yeast. They don’t give conversions for fresh yeast, so if you try them you’ll have to remember that you need approximately double the weight of fresh yeast.

One thing did strike me as not being quite as it should be and that was the amount of salt that is used. The basic bloomer has 10g of salt to 500g white flour, and that’s twice the amount recommended by the Real Bread Campaign for home bakers to use. I usually follow the advice of the campaign and use approximately one teaspoon per large loaf. I’ve made Paul’s bloomer and it really is quite salty. If your palate is used to store-bought bread you’ll probably find it too salty as most large retailers have reduced the salt in the bread that goes into supermarkets.

In Real Bread and industrial loaf baking salt in small quantities helps to:

  • Enhance flavour – if a loaf isn’t hanging about the kitchen for too long while it is rising, then it obviously helps to put some taste in.
  • Strengthen the gluten network
  • Aid the browning process
  • Act as a natural preservative – although I find real bread doesn’t hang about in our house and this isn’t a reason we need salt in our bread

I’ve written another blog about salt in bread to give a bit more information. Click here.

Also Paul’s recipe has approximately twice the amount of yeast you’ll usually find in recipes for baking white bread at home, so it rises quickly even though he says to use cold water. If your kitchen is quite warm and your water isn’t too cold it’ll probably go off like a rocket and you’ll get a good result. All of this mitigates against leaving the dough to rise slowly to enhance the flavour. The recipe uses olive oil, which is obviously not a traditional ingredient in British bloomers, and can be quite flavourful in it’s own right, so using extra salt doesn’t seem necessary to me.

So last night, in between other things, I made a loaf strictly according the Paul Hollywood method, including muscular kneading, and another by the Dan Lepard method. I really should have started the Dan Lepard loaf first, but didn’t think ahead enough to do that. Both turned out OK. The Paul Hollywood bloomer rose a lot and has a nice open soft crumb. The Dan loaf didn’t want to rise too fast, I think the kitchen was a bit cold, or maybe the packet yeast was a bit old, and in the end I had to bake it because it was getting late, it did spring quite well in the oven but didn’t get as large as the Paul Hollywood version.

I’ve had lots of people searching for the bloomer and problems and ending up on my blog so there’s a ‘trouble shooting’ page here too.

I’ll be trying the other recipes when I get the chance, in the meantime, if you want to give it go, do go ahead but go easy on the salt.

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Paul Hollywood Bloomer followed by a Dan Lepard style Bloomer

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