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English Cottage Loaf

Bread-making is soothing and enjoyable, although you do need a lot of time to allow for the rising process. This loaf can be made with wholemeal or plain flour and, as it is baked in the traditional cottage loaf shape, you will not need a loaf tin but just a baking sheet.

ingredients

makes 1 large loaf
15 g (1/2 oz) fresh yeast or 7.5 ml (1 1/2 tsp) dried
300 ml (1/2 pint) warm fresh milk
450 g (1 lb) malted brown flour, strong wholemeal flour
or strong white flour
5 ml (1 tsp) salt
beaten egg, to glaze
poppy or sesame seeds for sprinkling (optional)

method

1. Dissolve the fresh yeast in the milk. If using dried yeast, sprinkle it into the milk and leave in a warm place for 15 minutes, until frothy.

2. Put the flour and salt in a bowl. Make a well in the centre, then pour in the yeast liquid. Beat well together until the dough leaves the sides of the bowl clean.

3. Turn on to a lightly floured surface and knead for about 10 minutes, until smooth and elastic. Place in a clean bowl. Cover with a clean tea-towel and leave in a warm place for about 1 hour, until doubled in size.

4. Turn the dough on to a floured surface and knead lightly. Cut off one-third of the dough and shape into a round. Shape the remaining dough into a round. Place the larger round on to a greased baking sheet and brush with a little water. Place the smaller round on top.

5. Push the lightly floured handle of a wooden spoon down through the centre of the loaf right to the bottom. Using a sharp knife, slash the dough at 5 cm (2 inch) intervals around the top and bottom edges to make a decorative pattern. Cover and leave in a warm place for about 30 minutes, until doubled in size.

6. Brush with a little beaten egg to glaze and sprinkle with poppy or sesame seeds, if liked. Bake at 230°C (450°F) mark 8 for 10 minutes, then reduce the oven temperature to 200°C (400°F) mark 6 and bake for a further 20-25 minutes, until the loaf sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

cottage rolls

Makes 6
Complete steps 1, 2 and 3. Divide the dough into 6, then cut off one-third of each piece. Shape the rolls as in steps 4 and 5. Complete the recipe, baking the rolls at 230°C (450°F) mark 8 for 10 minutes, then at 200°C (400°F) mark 6 for about 10 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

plaits

Makes 6
Complete steps 1, 2 and 3. Divide the dough into 6,
then divide each piece into 3. Shape them into 3 long
rolls about 30.5 cm (12 inches) long. Pinch the ends
together and plait loosely, then pinch the other ends together. Complete steps 5 and 6, baking the rolls at 230°C (450°F) mark 8 for 10 minutes, then at 200°C (400°F) mark 6 for about 10 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

knots


Makes 6
Complete steps 1, 2 and 3. Divide the dough into 6. Shape each piece into a thin roll and tie into a knot. Complete steps 5 and 6, baking the rolls at 230°C (450°F) mark 8 for 10 minutes, then at 200°C (400°F) mark 6 for about 10 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

trefoils

Makes 6
Complete steps 1, 2 and 3. Divide the dough into 6, then divide each piece into 3. Roll each into a ball and place the 3 balls grouped together. Complete steps 5 and 6, baking the rolls at 230°C (450°F) mark 8 for 10 minutes, then 200°C (400°F) mark 6 for about 10 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

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