Sunday, 17 September 2017

Cottage Loaf with Pesto

The Cottage Loaf is a British classic.  The dough is shaped with one ball positioned ontop of the other and is baked in a hot & steamy oven to create a wonderful crust.  This Cottage Loaf  recipe with added Pesto contains the delicious flavours and aromas of pesto making it perfect for cheese sandwiches, or even served with a tomato soup, for instance.

How to make a cottage loaf flavoured with pesto, perfect used in cheese sandwiches or with a tomato soup for instance.

With a blink of an eye week 3 of GBBO has passed.

I have to confession.  No, I'm not warming to Neil Fielding, but rather I was in two minds whether to bake along with the show this week!  You see, as much as bread is very much a staple in our household, particularly for Mr E, and despite the fact that I love making our own homemade bread by hand feeling the change in the dough as it morphs from a craggy lump of flour and water to a glossy and stretchy dough, my increasingly unstable & painful wrists have other ideas.  And as for the stand mixer which was bought specifically to help me make bread, let's just say it definitely needs some lessons from Mr Paul Hollywood despite arriving with a dough hook!

Cottage Loaf is a British Classic recipe

My bread making efforts this past year have largely been restricted to no-knead loaves, so just as I was beginning to think that I would be watching fellow bloggers bake from the side-lines my knight in shining armour (rusty!), Mr E, took hold of the bread making reins to make this Cottage Loaf flavoured with pesto.

Cottage loaf recipe

Over to Mr E.

I made sure I fingered my loaf well!  😀

Seriously though, even though there was a lot of hilarity about this in the episode on Tuesday night as well as An Extra Slice, Angela explained that it helps to secure the two balls of dough together.   It turned out to be a really tasty loaf with a wonderful crust and I must admit it wasn't particularly difficult to make.  Though, a bit of extra practice fingering my loaf would probably make it sit up straight!

How to shape a cottage loaf

A couple of tips and thoughts when make homemade bread:

  • Don't be afraid to allow your bread to proove in the fridge, either overnight or throughout the day.  Although most recipes state to place the kneaded dough in a warm place to encourage the yeast to work, creating carbon dioxide and therefore allowing the dough to rise, by placing it in the fridge this process still happens.  Yes it's a much slower proove, but that extra time not only allows you to get on with other tasks as well as producing a much tastier loaf!
  • Use something other than clingfilm to cover your dough when it's set aside to proove. We all know that plastics are causing serious harm to our planet, so why not use one of the many other alternatives.  A shower cap, purchased just for making homemade bread which can easily be wiped clean and used time and time again, can be used to cover both small and large bowls.  Alternatively use a plate to cover the bowl or even a clean teatowel.  A large upturned mixing bowl is also a great item to cover a shaped round loaf, like this cottage loaf, during its second proove.   
  • Be aware that it's entirely possible that you may need to knead your bread dough for longer than 10 minutes (or what ever your recipe suggests).  It all depends on your technique and speed.  Use the windowpane test to check that the dough is ready to be prooved.
  • The windowpane test checks to see if the bread dough is ready to be prooved.  Simple take a lump of dough a little smaller than a golf ball and begin to gently stretch the dough between both of your hands.  Turn the dough a little as you do so. If the dough becomes paper thin without tearing, almost thin enough to see through, just like a windowpane, it is ready to be prooved .  Check out this Youtube video showing the windowpane test in action.  And this Youtube Video takes the windowpane test to another level, explaining the role of gluten in breads and other baked products.

Cottage Loaf recipe, flavoured with pesto

So, here's how to make a Cottage Loaf with Pesto

print recipe

Cottage Loaf with Pesto
The Cottage Loaf is a British classic.  The dough is shaped with one ball positioned ontop of the other and is baked in a hot & steamy oven to create a wonderful crust.  This Cottage Loaf recipe with added Pesto contains the delicious flavours and aromas of pesto making it perfect for cheese sandwiches, or even served with a tomato soup, for instance.

Hands on time Bake time:     Yield: 1 loaf
  • 500g Strong White Bread Flour
  • 10g Instant Yeast
  • 7g Salt
  • 20g Butter, unsalted & softened
  • 330ml Water, lukwarm (bloodwarm)
  • 3 tsp Pesto (see note d below)
  • drizzle Oil, for kneading

1. Make the dough. Place the flour into a good sized bowl. Add the yeast to one side of the bowl and salt to the other. Add the soft butter. Combine with your hands. Make a well in the flour. Add three quarters of the water. With your hand mix the flour into the liquid aiming to make a dough. Gradually add the remaining water and mix with your hands until it is all incorporated. Drizzle a little olive oil onto your work surface. Place the dough onto the work surface. Flatted it out a little and add the pesto. Fold the dough over the pesto and begin to knead the dough. Knead the dough for about 10 minutes until it is smooth, silky and stretchy. 2. Test the dough. Break off a small amount of dough. Stretch it with both of your hands to create a 'windowpane'. If the dough stretches, without breaking, and allowing you to almost see through the 'windowpane' it is ready for the next stage. If it snaps and rips, continue kneading for a couple more minutes then re-test.3. Proove the dough. Lightly oil a large bowl. Place the dough into the bowl and cover (see note a below). Set aside allowing it to 'proove' until it has doubled in size (see now b below). 4. Prepare to shape the dough. Cut a sheet of greaseproof paper large enough to cover your chosen baking sheet. Lay it on a good sized preparation board. 5. Begin to shape the dough. Tip the dough onto a lightly floured work surface. Knock the dough back to deflate it. Use a sharp knife to split the dough into two pieces, one piece being twice the size as the second. Use your fingers to flatten the larger piece into an oblong. Fold the short ends into the middle of the dough. Turn it over and begin to tuck the edges of the dough under itself to create a ball shape which is neat and smooth on top and less so underneath. Rotate the dough as you do so. Place onto the sheet of greaseproof paper. Repeat with the smaller piece of dough. Place this smaller piece ontop of the larger piece.6. Finish shaping the dough. Flour or oil your index finger (or the handle of a wooden spoon). Push your finger (or wooden spoon handle) straight down through both pieces of dough until your finger (or wooden spoon handle) touches the board beneath. Repeat through the same hole two or three more times. Carefully lift the shaped cottage loaf and holf it in the palm of your hand. Use a sharp knife to create 5 or 6 vertical slashes from the top ball of dough down into the second. BE CAREFUL NOT TO CUT YOURSELF! Place the shaped dough back onto the greaeproof paper.7. Prove. Cover the shaped dough and set aside for about an hour (see note c). The bread dough will be ready to bake when the dough springs back when gently prodded8. Pre-heat the oven to 220℃ / 200℃ fan / Gas 7. Place your baking sheet into the centre of the oven to preheat. Place a roasting tin on the shelf beneath. Boil a kettle of water.9. Bake. Remove the hot baking sheet from the oven. Slide the dough on the greaseproof paper carefully onto the hot baking sheet. (BE CAREFUL, THE BAKING SHEET IS HOT!) Place the dough into the centre of the oven. Pour the boiled water into the roasting dish. Allow the bread to bake for 5 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 190℃ / 180℃ fan/ gas 5. Bake for a further 40 - 45 minutes. You may need to rotate the bread towards the end of the bake. Remove the bread from the oven.  Tap the base with your fingers.  If it sounds hollow it is ready, if not return the cottage loaf to the oven and bake for a few minutes longer and re-test. 10. Cool. Remove from the oven and place onto a cooling rack to cool.11. Enjoy! 
Notes: a) Consider covering the dough with alternatives other than clingfilm, such as a showercap purchased solely for baking, a plate or clean teatowel. b)  Place the bowl somewhere convenient, but out of a draft.  Allowing it to proove in the fridge for a number of hours will produce more flavour due to the slower rise.  Though if you're wanting the loaf quicker place it in a warm spot.  c) A large upturned bowl is perfect for covering the shaped loaf. d) If baking for a vegetarian do ensure you use a vegetarian pesto.  We used Sacla's Organic Vegetarian Pesto.




Pin Cottage Loaf with Pesto for later!

Cottage Loaves are a British Classic.  This bread recipe is flavoured with pesto, is straight forward to make and is perfect madeused for a cheese sandwich or served with tomato soup for instance.


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Useful Baking Equipment when making a Cottage Loaf with Pesto


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  1. Ah well done Mr E!! How nice that he came to your aid in bread week, though I'm really sorry to hear that your wrists are so painful at the moment...and what a shame that your dough hook is not doing it's job properly. Love the wonky cottage loaf...I always think that looks much nicer than a perfect loaf...shows it has been made by hand not a machine! And ooh, pesto - I've never considered putting that in bread, but it sounds like a lovely idea! Thanks for linking up to #CookBlogShare. Eb x

    1. I know, he's a superstar isn't he :-D Hahah, the lean certainly gave it character Eb. ooh the pesto was sooo yummy in it Eb, just the 3 tsp was enough for it to have a lovely backbround flavour.
      Angela x

  2. This looks delicious and I love the idea of adding pesto. I really don't make bread enough and seeing delicious loaves like yours definitely makes me want to make more. What a lovely husband you have too. Making a cake was a hard enough task for mine so I don't think I'll start him on bread just yet x

    1. Aw thankyou Cat, you never know your hubby might enjoy making a bread dough after all it's quite physical especially if you make it by hand.
      Angela x

  3. This cottage loaf looks adorable, really rustic and the crust must be amazing! I love the idea of adding a bit of pesto to a bread recipe:)

    1. Thankyou so much Monika, to be honest, i think the crust was my favourite part - it was absolitely lovely :-) The pesto was so good in it too - though not really ideal flavour for topping a slice of it toasted with lemon curd.
      Angela x

  4. another talented hubby! This loaf looks glorious and I love the idea of adding pesto for extra flavour. Its such a lovely golden colour and that crust looks divine too. Yum! thank you for linking to #GBBOBloggers2017 x

    1. I'll pass on your compliments Jenny, he did really well didn't he :-) The crust was absolutely delicious, I think it was possibly my favourite part :-)
      Angela x

  5. I haven't ventured into bread baking yet! I am just intimidated with using the yeast and kneading the dough! But these tips are so useful Angela...I will keep these in mind whenever making bread! Thanks...As for this cottage loaf..It looks so perfect and love the idea of adding pesto in the dough for flavor!

  6. I just love the idea of adding pesto to a loaf Angela! It sounds gorgeous and must give such a lovely background flavour. So good that Mr E made the bread for you too! I'm definitely planning to do more breakmaking now and am actually going to be eating homemade breadsticks for lunch. Right now I'm just enjoying breathing in that lovely freshly baked bread smell! And trying to stop myself eating them before I've collected Master Spice from pre-school x

  7. Pesto in a bread sounds lovely and I am amused by the shaping of the cottage loaf - glad Mr E had such fun making it and you were able to rest your wrists - sorry to hear they are not up for kneading. though I have hardly kneaded lately because I have been enjoying making no knead bread regularly and not having to find the time and energy to knead, so I am sure your no knead bread would be great anyway!

  8. A brilliant cottage loaf! Well done Mr E. I love your top tips - especially the shower cap idea! fabulous.

  9. ooooo my husband would love this even more with the pesto! Looks great x

  10. What a cracking looking loaf! Well done for getting help, my husband would rather buy, than make bread. Which is perfect as I love baking! I always use my stand mixer to make and knead bread. If it helps, take a look at my recipe for Cottage Loaf on this linky. If I didn't have the mixer my neck/back wouldn't let me get away with making all of our own bread. Loved the addition of pesto flavour.


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