This is the simplest of all the bread types, the starter and easiest to make, yet absoloutly divine (the smell alone is akin to perfection). I present to you the humble crusty cob – a perfect match for all foods.
over 2 hours
Makes 1 loaf
You will need…
🌸500g strong white bread flour
🌸40g vegan butter
🌸2 tsp sea salt
🌸14g/2 sachets fast-action dried yeast
🌸300ml lukewarm water
🌸a little sunflower or olive oil
How to make:
1) Put the flour and butter into a large mixing bowl, adding the yeast and salt at opposite ends to avoid reaction. Combine everything together by mixing with a spoon.
2) Adding half of the water, turn the mixture round with your fingers to begin forming the dough. Add a little water at a time until all of the flour from the sides of the bowl are part of the main mix. You do not necessarily need to use all of the water; just enough so your dough is well combined and soft, but not sticky. Keep going until the mixture forms a rough dough.
3) Use no more than a teaspoon of oil to lightly grease a clean and flat surface where you will knead the dough. Turn out the mixture onto the surface and begin by folding the far edge of the dough into the middle, back on itself, then turn the dough by one quarter (90 degrees) and repeat (for as many times needed until the dough is lightly covered in oil).
4) Now it’s time to knead: push the dough out with the heel of your hand, then fold it back on itself. Turn by 90 degrees and repeat for about 5 minutes until smooth and stretchy. If it gets too sticky at any point, add flour to your hands.
5) Place the dough back into the mixing bowl. Cover with a damp tea towel or cling film and set it aside to prove; the dough should take around 1 hour to double in size.
6) Put an adequately sized piece of baking paper on a flat tray.
7) Once the dough has doubled in size, remove from the bowl (you are looking for a smooth and shiny texture.)
8) Put the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead it firmly to knock out the air. Use your hand to stretch the dough, like before, then turn by a quarter and repeat several times. Gently mould and smooth the dough into a round loaf shape.
9) Place the loaf onto the lined baking tray, cover again with a tea towel or cling film and leave to prove until doubled in size (again for around 1 hour).
10) Preheat your oven to 220C (200C fan assisted)/425F/Gas 7.
11) After 1 hour the loaf should be ready so sprinkle some flour on top and gently rub in. Use a sharp knife to make light cuts across the top of the loaf to create diamond shapes.
12) Place the loaf (atop the baking tray) into the middle of the oven. Pour cold water into an empty roasting tray and put in the bottom of the oven (which will subsequently create steam which helps the loaf develop a crisp and shiny crust.)
13) Bake the bread for 30 minutes until it has risen and is golden in colour. Allow time to cool, then eat! Of course this is perfect for any food-type like jam or Nutella; but a simple generous amount of butter on this warm and heavenly slice is ultimate perfection.