Menu

Recipe of the week

Cottage loaf

Celebrate Real Bread Week (23 February to 3 March 2019) by making a classic cottage loaf. For a twist on tradition, try adding dashes of wholemeal (whole wheat) and rye flours to the usual white.

A freshly baked cottage loaf on a wooden board against a grey backdrop.

Makes 1 very large loaf.

From mixing to oven: 5 to 6 hours

Baking time: 30 to 45 minutes

Ingredients

  • 625g/1lb 6oz/4½ cups white bread flour
  • 40g/1½oz/scant ⅓ cup wholemeal/whole wheat bread flour
  • 25g/1oz/scant ¼ cup wholemeal/wholegrain (dark) rye flour
  • 10g/2 tsp fresh yeast (reduce to 4g/scant 1 tsp if room temperature is above 20°C/68°F)
  • 9g/1¾ tsp fine/table salt
  • 450g/1lb/2 cups minus 2 tbsp water at 18 to 20°C/65 to 68°F

Method

  1. Stir all the flours together, then rub the yeast into the flour. Add the salt and most of the water and mix together thoroughly, then knead the dough for 10 minutes. This needs to be a stiff dough but if it’s so stiff that you can’t knead it, or any dry patches remain, gradually add more of the water. Cover and leave to rise at a cool room temperature (15 to 18°C/60 to 65°F) for 2 hours, then give the dough a single fold, cover again, and leave to rise for another 45 to 60 minutes.
  2. Tip the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface. The side of the dough in contact with the floured surface is the ‘good side’ and will end up as the top of the loaf. Shape the dough into a ball, return to the bowl good side down, cover and leave to rise for 1 hour.
  3. Divide the dough into 2 pieces, 1 about half the size of the other (so the smaller piece weighs about 360 to 370g/12¾ to 13oz), then flatten each piece to thoroughly de-gas the dough and shape each piece tightly into a ball, to keep a defined shape for baking. Cover the dough and leave for a final 45 to 60-minute rise. Meanwhile, heat the oven to 220°C/200°C fan/425°F/gas mark 7, with a baking stone or baking sheet in place, leaving sufficient headspace for your loaf.
  4. Slightly flatten each ball and place the smaller on top of the larger ball. Using a thumb and 2 fingers pinched together, or a wooden spoon handle (some old-school bakers used an elbow), push a deep dimple straight down through the middle of the top ball and well into the lower ball. With a really stiff dough, you can go down to the work surface. Cover and leave the dough to rest for 10 minutes.
  5. If you like, you can snip or slash vertical notches on 1 or both parts of the loaf just before it goes into the oven. Using a floured peel, lift the dough onto the baking stone and bake for 10 to 15 minutes, then turn the oven down to 180°C/160°C fan/350°F/gas mark 4 and continue to bake for a further 20 to 30 minutes until well-browned.

Recipe by Sonya Hundal, taken from Slow Dough: Real Bread by Chris Young, Nourish Books 2016.

Commissioned photography: Victoria Harley.

About Real Bread Week

Real Bread Week is the annual, international celebration of additive-free loaves and the people who make them.

#RealBreadWeek 2019 runs from 23 February to 3 March 2019

Discover more about Real Bread Week.