Prep1 hr 30 mins
Just the shape of this traditional loaf of bread is reminiscent of ploughman's lunches and warm cottage kitchens! A delightfully shaped loaf of bread, which represents all that is rustic and rural in Britain, but especially England. This bread keeps well and makes lovely, if odd shaped sandwiches! Cut the loaf into wedges and serve with freshly churned butter and a hunk of mature Cheddar cheese, maybe with a pickled onion or two. Quintessential British bread at its best. This reminds me of baking days in my grandmothers’ old cottage, sitting in her warm and cosy kitchen; she would have baked this in her wood burning Aga stove, as I sometimes do in the winter when my Godin wood burning stove is working. I often leave the first batch of dough to prove and rise overnight - leave it in a cool but NOT cold place, and then continue shaping and proving it next morning. We used to call this wooden spoon bread when we were little, as you push a wooden spoon down through the two loaves to stick them together before baking! Preparation time includes the proving of the dough - but NOT the overnight method!
- Sift flour and salt into a bowl, stir in sugar and yeast. Make a well in the centre, stir in the tepid milk and water to make the dough. (If using fresh yeast - put the yeast in a jug with a little of the milk and water mixture, and allow it to dissolve and become frothy - mixing thoroughly, then add it to the flour.).
- Tip the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 10 to 15 minutes until smooth and elastic.
- Put the dough in a large, clean, oiled bowl. Cover with oiled clingfilm and leave in a warm place until it has doubled in size.Then knead the dough for 1 minute and divide it into two-thirds and a third. Shape the pieces into rounds. Cover them and leave for 5 minutes.
- Put the smaller round on top of the larger one. Push a floured wooden spoon (or your fingers) through the centre of both rounds, to join them together. Take a very sharp knife and make cuts all around the top round and the bottom round - see my photos. Put the cottage loaf on a lightly floured baking tray, cover and leave for about 45 minutes, or until it has doubled in size. Meanwhile preheat the oven to 220C/440F/Gas 7.
- Beat the egg with a tablespoon of water and a pinch of salt. Brush the glaze over the cottage loaf and bake for about 35 to 45 minutes, until dark golden brown and hollow sounding when tapped beneath.
- Cool before slicing. Delicious served with butter, jam, cheese, cold meats or make sandwiches or toast for picnics and breakfast!