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Cottage Loaf

Introduction & method

One of the problems of baking a loaf without a tin is that it usually ends up quite flat. This traditional loaf solves that problem by basically being two loaves stacked on top of each other. However, it won't fit in a toaster and is rarely seen these days.

Cottage Loaf Recipe

Make the Dough

In a large bowl, mix together the flour, salt and yeast. Rub in the butter so it looks like fine breadcrumbs. Stir in the water. Be very careful not to add too much water because a wet dough will lead to a flat loaf (watch my video if you don't believe me). Tip the dough out onto your worktop and knead for about 10 minutes until the dough is smooth and elastic.

Prove the Dough

This is where it gets a bit weird. All the traditional recipes I've seen say that the dough is only proved once - bread is normally proved twice. It's up to you, but I found the once-proved dough gave quite a dense bread with no holes or strength to it. So you may need to just prove the dough, knock it back and then build the loaf and prove again.

Build and Bake the Loaf

Preheat you oven to 200°C (390°F) for a fan oven, or 220°C (428°F) for a conventional one.
Divide your dough into two pieces, one-third and two-thirds. Roll them into smooth balls and then flatten them slightly. Take special care that the top of the biggest piece is level, or you'll get a wonky loaf. Pop the smaller ball on top, and then flour a finger and poke it down through both balls - all the way down to the worktop. Swing the dough like a hula-hoop around your finger a few times. Now cut 12 deep vertical slashes in the sides of the loaf - make sure you cut through both the top and bottom balls. This will help it bake more evenly and has the added benefit of  looking pretty. Glaze with an egg beaten together with a little milk. Bake for 30-40 minutes. When it's done, it should sound hollow when you tap the underside.

The video above is from the Keef Cooks YouTube channel. Click here to see the video recipe of Cottage Loaf on YouTube.

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Ingredients & Info

 450 grams strong white bread flour
 250 ml warm water
 50 grams unsalted butter
 1 tsp salt
 1 tsp active dried yeast

US Customary/Imperial

Makes 1 loaf
Prep time: 20 minutes.
proving time: 1 hour.
Cooking time: 30-40 minutes.
Total time: 1 hour 40 minutes.