This is the recipe for the uninitiated: the bread loaf that comes out a beauty every time but doesn’t need any bread baking skills. No knead bread original formula adapted to make a seeded bloomer.
The no knead recipe was created by Jim Lahey, owner of Sullivan Street Bakery and is one of the most popular recipes New York Times had ever published.
No knead, no work?
There is, of course, some effort involved. Those who imagine pouring flour, water and yeast into a bucket and leaving it there, to find a perfect round loaf the next day are perhaps slightly over-optimistic.
The dough must be mixed: flour or combination of flours, salt, yeast and water plus, in this instance, a large handful of mixed seeds, need to be combined but roughly, using a wooden spoon or your hands. It's good to go if there are no clumps of raw flour showing in the mass.
This concoction proves overnight in a warm place, with the magical processes like gluten development, yeast feeding on sugars from the flour and expelling CO2 to make the dough swell and aerate.
The next day means shaping. But it's nothing elaborate: the dough sitting on a wet worktop needs to be folded onto itself from all four corners in order to tighten it and make it hold the shape of a loaf. Once it's shaped, sit it on a heavy baking tray lined with parchment, on the bottom part of a Dutch oven or the clay bread-baking cloche.
What is a bloomer?
Bloomer is traditionally an oblong or rounded crusty loaf, scored in parallel lines on top. So once the loaf has risen impressively, use your sharpest or serrated knife to slash those lines.
If that's a possibility, spraying the oven with water just before the bread goes in will help the rise and the crust forming. You can use a plant spray bottle or place a baking tray at the bottom of the oven and pour some boiling water into it.
How does it taste?
I know it's laying it a bit thick but the finished product does taste a little like sourdough. The particular combination of flours in the recipe below will bring you closest to the sourdough semblance: large part white, medium part wholemeal and a little rye flour.
But it is a flexible and magnanimous recipe. I’ve found you can use any flours, except perhaps just rye, or just buckwheat, as long as it is a mix similar to the above proportions. It is a bit like having your own bespoke scent.
It also works with any additions and extras you might fancy: seeds or herbs, olives or chopped sun-dried tomatoes. It even works extremely well with a good amount of diced hard cheese mixed into the dough! That last one is the one to try, trust me.