Easy Homemade Cottage Loaf

For me, nothing quite compares to the beauty, taste and smell of homemade bread. Four ingredients, flour, yeast, water and salt, when mixed together, worked, rested, shaped and baked give such incredibly satisfying results. Bread is surely the heart of any feast and therefore, teaching  others to bake it is of upmost importance to me. Using step by step instructions and photographs, you too can learn how to make and bake this Easy Homemade Cottage Loaf.

FF Easy Homemade Cottage Loaf
Easy Homemade Cottage Loaf.

Inspired by a friend on Twitter, who claimed that bread baking was beyond her, I set out to show her she could. While she is a very accomplished baker, far more so than me, bread is her baking stumbling block. Everyone can make bread. Are you wary of baking bread? With this guide and a relaxing cup of tea, read through and then get baking!

FF Easy Homemade Cottage Loaf
Easy Homemade Cottage Loaf soft crumb with crunchy crust.

Following the techniques and tips in this recipe will guarentee that you too, can make delicious, homemade bread. Also the more that you practise, the more confident and better you will get a baking bread at home. It is important to remember that occaisionally a loaf of bread will turn out mishapen. Rarely is it inebible though!

Recipe: Easy Homemade Cottage Loaf

320mls Water at room temperature

1/2tsp Caster Sugar

7g Dried Yeast make sure that is reasonably fresh (3 months old max) – I use Allinson in the green tub/sachets

500g/1lb 2oz Strong White Bread Flour – I use Shipton Mill

25g/1oz Unsalted Butter at room temperature

7g Sea Salt – I use Maldon

Method: For making by hand or using a stand mixer with dough attachment.

You will need a large, buttered baking tray.

Stand Mixer:

  • Add all of the ingredients to the bowl of a stand mixer in the order that they are listed. This ensures that the yeast does not come into direct contact with the yeast.
FF Easy Homemade Cottage Loaf
Adding ingredients to the bowl in the correct order.
  • With dough hook attached mix on low speed until all the ingredients are combined.
FF Easy Homemade Cottage Loaf
Ingredients have come together to form a dough.
  • At this point if you wish to knead by hand, scrape the dough from the dough hook into the bowl. See making by hand method.
  • Continue mixing the dough on medium speed for a further 10 minutes.
  • After the kneading time has elapsed stop the machine and tear off a small piece of dough. Stretch it between your fingers until it is so thin that light can be seen through it. This is known as the windowpane test. If it tears whilst stretching, add back to the dough and continue to mix for a further 2 minutes as before. Repeat the test after each further mixing period until the dough passes the windowpane test.
  • Scrape the dough from the dough hook into the bowl and cover with a clean tea towel.
  • Place the covered bowl in a draught free place, away from a direct heat source.
FF Easy Homemade Cottage Loaf
No shaping, simply leave the dough in a bowl and cover.
  • Leave until the dough has doubled in size.

Making by hand:

  • Place the flour and butter into a large bowl.
  • Rub the butter into the flower using your fingertips.
  • Add the sugar and yeast to the bowl on one side. Place the salt on the opposite side, so that it doesn’t come into direct contact with the yeast.
  • Make a well in the centre of the flour and then add all of the water.
  • Using your hand, shaped like a claw, bring the dry ingredients into the water and mix them together.
  • Continue mixing in the bowl until the dough has formed a sticky ball.
  • Place the dough on to a clean worktop and push with the heal of your hand to tear and stretch the dough. Knead the dough for at least 10 minutes, until it is smooth and elastic.
  • Tear a small piece of the dough and perform the windowpane test as described above. If the dough tears knead for a further 2 minutes and test again.
  • Repeat the kneading and testing procedure until the dough passes the windowpane test.
  • Form the dough into a ball, place in a clean bowl, cover with a tea towel and leave in a draught free place until doubled in size.

Shaping and building the Easy Homemade Cottage Loaf

  • When the dough has doubled in size turn out on to a lightly floured surface, ensuring the top of the dough is in contact with the worktop. What was the top is now the bottom.
  • Weigh the dough and cut off one quarter.
FF Easy Homemade Cottage Loaf
Turning out and dividing the dough
  • Starting with the larger piece of dough, stretch and pull one side and press down into the opposite side.
  • Now stretch and pull the opposite side. Press down as before.
  • Turn the dough and repeat 4 more times, where the edge is rough and untouched, until your dough resembles the bottom right photo.
FF Easy Homemade Cottage Loaf
Building tension into the dough.
  • Flip the dough over and create a ball shape. Cup your hands around the dough, tucking and turning to create a tight ball shape.
FF Easy Homemade Cottage Loaf
Creating a ball shaped dough using your hands.
  • Place the dough ball base of the cottage loaf, on to a prepared baking tray.
  • Repeat the streching/pulling process with the smaller piece of dough, then shape into a ball.
  • Place the smaller ball centrally on top of the base.
  • With two floured fingers push down, through the centre of the top ball, tight into the base. Doing so joins the top and bottom together, creating one loaf.
  • Slash the top 6 times and the bottom 12 times. Cut vertically, from top to bottom.
FF Easy Homemade Cottage Loaf
Assembling the Easy Homemade Cottage Loaf
  • Cover with a tea towel, leave in a draft free place until doubled in size, 45 – 60 minutes.

Baking the Easy Homemade Cottage Loaf

  • While the loaf is undergoing its second prove, preheat your oven to it hottest setting. Usually 250C or gas mark 9.
  • 15 minutes before the loaf is ready, place a pan with 5cm/1″ of water in the base of the oven. The steam created will delay the forming of a hard crust on the loaf, allowing maximum expansion, also called oven spring, to take place.
FF Easy Homemade Cottage Loaf
Easy Homemade Cottage Loaf ready for the oven.
  • Once the loaf has doubled in size it is ready to bake.
  • Remove the tea towel and place in the middle/lower part of the oven. Make sure there is enough height room, allowing for oven spring, when placing your loaf in the oven.
  • Bake for 5 minutes at the hottest temperature and then reduce the oven temperature to 220C/200C fan, gas mark 7.
  • Continue to bake for a further 35-45 minutes.
  • The loaf is baked when it is a deep golden colour, feels light (not heavy and dense) in your oven glove protected hands and most importantly sounds hollow when rapped on the top and base with a knuckle.
  • Remove from the oven and place immediately on to a cooling rack.
FF Easy Homemade Cottage Loaf
Easy Homemade Cottage Loaf golden and delicious.

An incredible homemade, home baked artisan style bread.

FF Easy Homemade Cottage Loaf
Easy Homemade Cottage Loaf with deeper slashes.

Serve sliced as open sandwiches, or toasted. Alternatively serve as an accompaniment to a meal, such as Spicy Sausage Bean Casserole.

FF Easy Homemade Cottage Loaf
Easy Homemade Cottage Loaf

Best eaten within a day of making, this bread will keep for up to 4 days in a bread bin, which allows air to circulate. It is better not to keep this Easy Homemade Cottage Loaf in an airtight container as it may go mouldy very quickly.

To freeze, thoroughly cool, then double wrap in cling film. Keep in the freezer for no longer than a month. Defrost at room temperature and refresh by placing in a moderate oven for 10 minutes.

If you have enjoyed this recipe for Easy Homemade Cottage Loaf then you make also like these:

Farmhouse White Loaf

FF Easy Homemade Cottage Loaf
Farmhouse White Loaf

Seeded Cob Loaf

FF Easy Homemade Cottage Loaf
Seeded Cob Loaf

Christmas Spiced Fruit Loaf

FF Easy Homemade Cottage Loaf
Christmas Spiced Fruit Loaf

Baking bread is such a rewarding experience. Whether you make the entire loaf by hand, or enlist the help of kitchen machinery, each loaf will be far superior in both flavour and quality than it’s mass produced counterpart. Even if you have a great bakery in your local vicinity, baking your own means you can make unusual, rarely seen loaves such as this Easy Homemade Cottage Loaf.

Whatever you are making, baking and creating in your kitchens, enjoy preparing your feast.

Sammie xx

No part of this post may be reproduced without the written consent of the owner. Please see my Disclosure Policy.

 

I am entering my Easy Homemade Cottage Loaf in the #GBBOBloggers2017 linky hosted by http://www.mummymishaps.co.uk

 

FF Easy Homemade Cottage Loaf

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Lighter Wholemeal Loaf

Bread, an everyday staple for most people. Yet finding a loaf that is light, tasty, with added fibre can be hard. Look no further my friends, as I present my Lighter Wholemeal Loaf.

Lighter Wholemeal Loaf easily sliced and perfect for sandwiches.
Lighter Wholemeal Loaf easily sliced and perfect for sandwiches.

I must admit I am a bit of a ‘bread head’ – does that make me sound cool?!!

By that, I mean that I adore most breads, providing they are well made, do not contain additives and have a flavour of their own that contributes to the final dish.

I do not live near an Artisan Bakery, where freshly baked bread, in all its array of shapes and flavours can be purchased. So instead I make our bread at home.

Lighter Wholemeal Bread full of flavour.
Lighter Wholemeal Bread full of flavour.

This Lighter Wholemeal Loaf is one of our family’s favourite breads. The loaf slices beautifully and so is perfect for packed lunches, or toasted for breakfast and then slathered in homemade jam.

I have 100% wholemeal bread recipes such as my Wholemeal Cob Loaf and Wholemeal Loaf, yet if I’m honest, as delicious as they are, having the same bread every single day can get a bit boring. So I like to switch things up a bit, keeping our taste buds interested and in reality, ensuring our teenagers eat a decent portion of their lunch.

They say variety is the spice of life 😉

Lighter Wholemeal Loaf just add butter for a delicious feast.
Lighter Wholemeal Loaf just add butter for a delicious feast.

When I eat bread I want it to contribute to the flavour of the whole dish. What I mean is, it shouldn’t, mustn’t just be a limp carrier for other flavours. The mature cheddar cheese and butter, as seen in the photo above, became my lunch yesterday – the perks of being a food blogger!

Yet this sandwich, with the addition of some Red Onion Marmalade, truly is one of my favourite lunches. Each component adding flavour and different textures, so that as a whole, the resulting sandwich was incredibly appetising and filling.

Lighter Wholemeal Loaf a heart, flavour packed lunch.
Lighter Wholemeal Loaf a hearty, flavour packed lunch.

I used a mixture of stone ground, organic strong flour from Shipton Mill to make this Lighter Wholemeal Loaf. The wheat, traditionally milled, using the flow of river water for energy needed to drive the grinding stones, is consistently excellent, whilst it’s production is sympathetic to and works in harmony with the environment.

So that I can guarentee you consistent, excellent results when making this Lighter Wholemeal Loaf, this recipe has been thoroughly tested, with the resulting loaf being approximately one third wholemeal flour. This 2:1 combination of Strong White to Strong Wholemeal flour gives a great, nutty, wholesome flavour, whilst keeping the bread light enough for everday use. It’s also a great way of adding extra fibre into your own and your familiy’s diet, especially if their preference is for white bread.

Recipe: Makes one Lighter Wholemeal Loaf

150g/5oz Strong Wholemeal Flour – preferably organic plus a little extra for dusting the work top.

350g/12oz Strong Unbleached White Flour – preferably organic

360ml Tepid Tap Water

7g/1 Sachet Dried Yeast

1tsp Honey

7g/1tsp Sea Salt – I use Maldon Sea Salt Flakes

25g/1oz Unsalted Butter

Method:

The ‘bowl’ is either a large bowl, with which to mix the bread by hand, or the stand mixer/bread maker bowl.

For all methods:

Pour the water into the bowl. Add the honey and yeast. Swish about with clean fingers to activate the yeast.

Add the flour on top of the liquid.

Add the salt and the butter.

If using a bread maker, set to dough cycle and start the program. Once the cycle is completed re-start for 1 minute. This ‘knocks back’ the dough. See below for how to shape the loaf prior to it’s second prove.

If using a stand mixer, attach the dough hook and mix on medium speed until all the ingredients are combined. Continue to mix for a further 5 minutes, until the dough is smooth and elastic. Stop mixing. Scrape the dough from the dough hook and combine with the dough in the bowl. Form into a ball, place back into the bowl. Cover with a damp cloth and leave in a draught free place until doubled in size (approx. 1hour). Once doubled remove the cloth, mix for 1 minute on medium speed using the dough hook. This ‘knocks back’ the dough.

If hand mixing, bring all the ingredients together with your hand until they form a doughy mess! Place this dough onto a very lightly floured worktop. Knead for a good 10 minutes. If the dough gets sticky, keep kneading and working it – if you add extra flour the finished bread will be dry. After a good 10 minutes kneading, the dough should have a smooth elasticity. Place the kneaded dough into a buttered bowl, cover with a damp cloth and leave in a draught free place until doubled in size, 1-2 hours.

To shape the dough: Tip the knocked back the dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Gently flatten the dough into an oval/rectangle shape.

Flatten out the dough into a rough oval.
Flatten out the dough into a rough oval.

Fold the top third of the flattened dough over.

Fold the top third of the dough over.
Fold the top third of the dough over.

Fold the bottom third of the dough up and slightly over the previous fold.

Bring the bottom third of the dough up.
Bring the bottom third of the dough up.

Rotate the dough by a quarter, gently flatten out and repeat the folding process.

Repeat the turning and folding twice more, ensuring the last turn and fold is quite tight. This folding technique does not take long and unlike pastry, this bread dough can withstand being moved and worked. The purpose of turning and folding is to build a good structure within the dough.

Once the folding and turning is complete turn the dough over so that it is seam side down.

Place into a greased 3lb loaf tin. Cover with a tea towel and leave in a warm, draught free place until doubled in size.

I also sprinkled some wholemeal flour over the top of the dough, this gives a nice, rustic finish to the baked bread.

Neat, tightly folded dough ready for its second prove.
Neat, tightly folded dough ready for its second prove.

The dough can take between 45 minutes and a couple of hours to double in size, depending on the ambient temperature and humidity.

Whilst the dough has it’s final prove, preheat your oven to it’s hottest setting.

5 minutes before your loaf is due to be baked, fill a tray with ice cubes and place on the lowest shelf in the oven. The hot, steamy environment will help the dough to rise even further before the crust sets and helps bake a crusty loaf.

Lighter Wholemeal Loaf beautifully risen and ready for the oven.
Lighter Wholemeal Loaf beautifully risen and ready for the oven.

Place the loaf into the centre of a preheated oven and immediately reduce the oven temperature to 220C/200C fan, gas mark 7. Bake the Lighter Wholemeal Loaf for 30 minutes.

The bread is cooked when it is a golden brown colour and sounds hollow when rapped on the base of the loaf with your knuckle.

Once baked remove the bread from the oven and immediately tip out onto a cooling rack. Note: If the loaf is cooked but you’d like a darker crust, place the loaf, without the tin, directly on to the oven shelf and bake for a further 5-10 minutes until the crust is the colour you desire.

Lighter Wholemeal Loaf such a delicious and versatile bread.
Lighter Wholemeal Loaf such a delicious and versatile bread.

The smell of freshly baked bread is so unbelievably good. Our postman really likes delivering to us in the morning, as that tends to be when the bread is either baking or cooling!

Do not be surprised if your neighbours pop in, just for a chat, as they catch a whiff of freshly baked bread escaping from your house 😉

This Lighter Wholemeal Loaf will keep in a bread bin for up to 3 days. To freeze, ensure the bread is completely cold and wrap tightly in cling film. Fresh bread can be frozen for up to 3 months. To defrost, remove all the cling film and allow the loaf to stand on a large trivet or a cooling rack at room temperature, until fully defrosted.

I like to refresh frozen bread – this simply involves preheating the oven to 220C/200C fan, gas mark 7. Once the bread has fully defrosted, spritz with tap water and place directly onto the middle oven shelf for 10-15 minutes. After removing from the oven allow the loaf to cool and it will taste like it has been freshly baked that day! I won’t tell 😉

If you have enjoyed this recipe for Lighter Wholemeal Loaf, then I have some others you may like too:

Farmhouse White Loaf

FF Lighter Wholemeal Loaf
Farmhouse White Loaf

Oat Bran White Bread

FF Lighter Wholemeal Loaf
Oat Bran White Bread makes the best toast!

Knotted Poppyseed Rolls

FF Lighter Wholemeal Loaf
Knotted Poppyseed Rolls perfect for picnics.

Using a bread maker or stand mixer to carry out the kneading part of making bread dough isn’t cheating. I hand kneaded some incredibly sticky Brioche dough for 20 minutes at the weekend and honestly, it has really taken it’s toll on my body this week. So if using kitchen appliances enables us to eat better quality, homemade bread, that is also much cheaper than it’s shop bought counterpart, why not?

I hope that the detailed, yet easy steps in this recipe have encouraged you to bake your own bread – you may find that once you start it is impossible to go back to mass produced, plastic wrapped loaves!!

I am always willing to answer any questions you may have with this, or any of my other recipes. Simply leave a comment, or for a quicker reply Tweet me a message.

Have fun making and baking in your kitchens, maybe invite a friend or neighbour round and bake together. It may take longer but I can guarentee there will be lots of laughing.

Sammie xx

This is not a sponsored post. I have been buying Shipton Mill flour for almost as long as I have been baking my own bread.

British Bakeware  sell a range of baking products, their 3lb farmhouse loaf tin was used to bake this Lighter Wholemeal Loaf.

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