The term “London Bloomer Bread” refers to a type of bread popularized by bakeries in London, England.
It is somewhat denser than other white breads, with typically a thicker, crispier crust as well. It is used for sandwiches, toast, fried toast, etc. Leftover Bloomer Bread is considered very good for summer puddings.
The word “Bloomer” refers to the shape of the bread. The dough is allowed to “bloom”, as in rise free-standing, with no bread tin holding it during the rise or later baking. The bread is shaped thick and oblong, about 10 to 12 inches long (25 to 30 cm), and will be flat on the bottom.
The loaf is gently rounded at the top, with anywhere from 7 to 13 diagonal slashes in the top, generally, but there’s no hard and fast rule. Some people say 7 scores in the top represent 7 days of the week, allowing 1 very thick slice a day (if anyone wants a 7 day old slice of bread at the end.) Some people say 13 scores represent Christ and his 12 Apostles. Sadly, though, the slashes are actually there for a far more mundane reason: they are applied to the dough before its final rise to help direct the spring of the dough both in rising and during the oven spring that occurs when first placed in a hot oven.
The top of the loaf may have poppy or sesame seeds on it, or it may be left plain. Any seeds applied are generally sprinkled on before the dough is scored.
White wheat flour is by far the most popular flour to use for this shape, but really any flour can be used — the term “Bloomer” just describes the shape of the bread.
The traditional ingredients are just flour, water, salt and yeast. Traditionally Bloomer recipes use less water, and a higher protein bread flour, to help the dough retain shape without a tin. The dough is let ferment for a longer period of time than usual before being shaped into loaves. There’s no hard and fast rule how long, but generally six to 18 hours, or overnight. This slow rise gives the bread a more complex flavour.
That being said, today’s store-bought Bloomer bread carries no guarantees of having been made through the traditional slow rise process. It may be just standard commercial bakery white loaf, baked as a bloomer, but with none of the denseness, thicker crust, etc.
The risen, slashed dough is best slid onto an already hot baking sheet in the oven, as that will seal the bottom of the loaf quickly, forcing the oven spring upwards rather than outwards at the bottom. Having a hot baking stone at the bottom of the oven, onto which you throw about an egg cup full of water, will help create steam that gelatinizes the surface starches of the loaf — do this just before putting the loaf in the oven.
CooksInfo.com has been unable to determine when the term originated, or how far back “London Bloomer Bread” as we know it today dates. There are hints, though, that it is an early to mid 20th century creation.
Greenham, Angie. Supermarkets Get Crafty with Bread. 20 July 2010. Retrieved January 2011 from http://thecraftbaker.co.uk/2010/07/20/supermarkets-get-crafty-with-bread/
Johnston, Ken. Science Director. Local Craft Bakers Improving Health – Salt Reduction Project Report for Food Standards Agency. Food Processing Faraday Partnership Ltd. March 2010.
Shipton Mill. Traditional English Overnight Dough. Retrieved January 2011 from http://www.shipton-mill.com/the-bakery/recipes/article-25/