Cob loaf is a simple white bread recipe that’s perfect for beginners to make.  It tastes great as a bread bowl for dip, or spread with butter and made into sandwiches.  Enjoy the process of making this crusty bread by hand.

Prep Time: 40 minutes
slices of cob loaf with the loaf
Savory Bread

Easy Cob Loaf Recipe

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This post was originally published on September 23, 2017.

A basic white loaf, like in this cob loaf recipe, is the perfect bread for beginning bakers to make.  The beautifully crisp, crackly crust is a joy to eat, and the soft interior is great for sopping up sauces and gravies.  You’ll definitely be wanting a second piece of this cob loaf!

closeup of cob loaf's crackly crust

Where is cob loaf from?

This cob loaf is a plain white bread from England.  It’s a free form, round loaf with a crunchy crust.

How do you make crusty bread?

  • Sift the flour.  This helps create a thinner crust instead of a thick, break-your-teeth crust.
  • Knead thoroughly.  Kneading builds up the gluten, encouraging a good rise, lovely texture, and nice crust.  See the “How to Make Cob Loaf” section below for details.
  • Bake with steam.  The steam creates a layer of starch gel on the outside of the loaf as it bakes, which hardens into the crunchy crust we love.

slices of cob loaf on a cutting board

Is cob loaf healthy?

For those on a balanced diet, cob loaf is healthy in moderation.  If you cut the loaf into 12 pieces, each piece would be 200 calories.  Scroll down to the bottom of the cof loaf recipe card below to see the full nutrition facts.

cross section of cob loaf

How do you eat cob loaf?

  • By itself.  Try spreading the bread with butter or dipping into olive oil for a lovely snack.
  • Sandwiches.  Slice the bread and make into hearty grilled cheese or toasted tomato sandwiches.
  • Dip. Cut off the top of the loaf and pull out some of the bread from the center.  Fill with your favorite dip, such as spinach and artichoke, bake until warm and bubbly, and enjoy with the pulled-out bread pieces.  (This is popular in Australia.)
  • Croutons.  If you’ve never tried homemade croutons, you’re missing out on something amazing!
  • Garlic toast.  This easy and flavorful toast tastes fabulous with Italian food.

closeup of the crust of the cob loaf

Can you freeze cob loaf?

  • Yes, you can freeze a cob loaf after baking.
  • Let it cool completely on a wire rack.  If desired, slice the loaf for ease.
  • Seal the bread inside of a zip-top freezer bag and press out the extra air.
  • Freeze for up to 1 month.

person holding a slice of cob loaf

How to Make Cob Loaf

Gather the ingredients for the loaf.  You’ll need bread flour, salt, yeast, sugar, unsalted butter, and water.

ingredients for cob loaf

Sift the bread flour into a mixing bowl, then add the salt and yeast on opposite sides of the bowl.  Stir each one in with your finger.  The purpose of this step is to keep the salt from touching the yeast, as it can kill the yeast on contact.

adding yeast and salt to a bowl of flour

Add the sugar and mix in the butter.

mixture of flour, salt, yeast, sugar, and butter in a bowl

Gradually add the water and mix with your hand until all the flour is picked up from the bottom of the bowl.  Keep adding liquid until a slightly sticky dough has formed.  You may not need all the water, or you might need a little extra, depending on the humidity and the brand of flour you’re using.

sticky bread dough in a glass bowl

Knead the dough on a lightly floured surface until the dough is very smooth and no longer sticky, about 20 minutes.  You should be able to stretch a lump of dough thin enough to read through it, as in the photo below.

stretching kneaded dough over a cardboard box

Place the dough into a buttered bowl and cover with plastic wrap.

glass bowl of bread dough covered with plastic wrap

Let the dough rise in a warm place until at least doubled in size, about 1 hour.

risen bread dough in a glass bowl

Punch down the risen dough to release the air pockets.  Shape the dough into a tight ball and place on a cookie sheet.

round loaf of bread dough on a cookie sheet

Cover the dough with plastic wrap and let it rise until almost doubled in size, about 30 minutes.  The dough should spring back slowly when prodded with a fingertip.

Preheat the oven to 450 F and put a sturdy metal casserole dish on the lowest shelf.  Just before baking the dough, cut a few slashes on top with a lame or sharp serrated knife.

slashed loaf of bread on a cookie sheet

Put the loaf into the oven and pour some water into the hot metal dish to create steam.  Shut the oven door and bake at 450 F for 20 minutes, then remove the steam pan.  Bake for another 20 minutes, until the bread has an internal temperature of 190-200 F.

Let the bread cool completely on a wire rack before slicing and serving, about 1 hour.

baked cob loaf on a wire cooling rack

Pro Tips for Making this Cob Loaf Recipe

  • Always use bread flour, not all-purpose.  Bread flour produces a good rise, high rise, and chewy texture on your loaf.
  • Sift the flour.  It sounds like a strange step for making bread, but it helps produce a thinner crust on the loaf.
  • Don’t skimp on the kneading.  It takes time to build up the proper gluten structure, which is essential to a good loaf.
  • Only add a little flour as you knead.  When the dough is properly kneaded, it will no longer be sticky.
  • Shape the loaf tightly.  Otherwise, the loaf will flatten as it rises, making it rather unattractive.
  • Bake the bread with steam in the oven.  This encourages the dough to rise higher and form a better crust.
  • Want a crackly crust?  Brush the loaf with butter as soon as it comes out of the oven.
  • Cool the bread completely before eating.  Cutting in too soon will make the bread doughy.

Our Go-To Kitchen Tools for this Cob Loaf Recipe

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slices of cob loaf with the loaf

Easy Cob Loaf Recipe


  • Author: Emma
  • Prep Time: 40 minutes
  • Cook Time: 40 minutes
  • Total Time: 2 hours 50 minutes
  • Yield: 1 loaf 1x

Description

Cob loaf is a simple white bread recipe that’s perfect for beginners to make.  It tastes great as a bread bowl for dip, or spread with butter and made into sandwiches.  Enjoy the process of making this crusty bread by hand.


Scale

Ingredients

  • 4 1/4 cups bread flour (500g)
  • 3 teaspoons fast-action yeast (10g)
  • 2 teaspoons salt (10g)
  • 2 teaspoons granulated sugar (12g)
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter (70g)
  • 1 1/4 cups water (300 ml)

Instructions

Making & Proving the Dough (30 min + 1 hr proving)

  1. Sift the bread flour into a mixing bowl and add the salt and yeast on opposite sides of the bowl.  Mix them into the flour with your finger, then stir in the sugar.
  2. Dump in the softened butter and half of the water.  Stir and crush the mixture with your hand to begin forming the dough.  Gradually add more water and mix well until all the flour has been incorporated and a slightly sticky dough has formed.  You may need more or less water than the recipe states.
  3. Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured work surface, and knead vigorously for about 20 minutes, until the dough is smooth and quite stretchy.  You should be able to stretch a lump of dough thin enough to read through it.
  4. Shape the dough into a ball, place in a buttered bowl, and cover tightly with plastic wrap.  Let the dough prove until at least doubled in size, about 1 hour.

Shaping & Proving the Dough (10 min shaping + 30 min proving)

  1. Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured work surface and punch it down all over to knock out large pockets of gas.
  2. Form the dough into a flat circle, and fold the edges into the center to form a hexagon shape.  Pinch the edges together, then turn the dough over so the folds are underneath.
  3. Cup your hands around the loaf so the dough is between your palms.  Shape it into a round by turning the dough between your hands and keeping it on the work surface.
  4. With your hands still cupped around the loaf, use your thumbs to pull the edges of the dough underneath itself to stretch the top of the loaf taut.  This tension will help the loaf rise upward instead of spreading out as it proves.
  5. Place the loaf on a metal baking tray and cover with a piece of plastic wrap.  Let the dough prove at room temperature until the dough springs back slowly when prodded with a fingertip, about 30 minutes.
  6. About 10-15 minutes before the final prove is done, preheat the oven to 450 F.  Place an old metal casserole dish on a lower shelf to preheat.

Baking the Loaf (40 min baking + 1 hr cooling)

  1. Once the oven is preheated, score the bread with 5 lengthwise slashes using a lame or sharp serrated knife.
  2. Put the loaf on the middle shelf of the oven.  Pour about 2 cups of water into the preheated metal dish and quickly shut the door.  The water turns into steam, which creates a crunchy crust on the loaf.
  3. Bake the loaf at 450 F for 20 minutes.  Remove the steam pan and bake for 18-20 minutes longer.  Cover the top of the loaf with aluminum foil if it’s getting dark.  The bread is done cooking when it has an internal temperature of 190-200 F.
  4. Immediately brush the loaf with butter and let it cool on a wire rack until it’s fully cooled, at least 1 hour.

  • Category: Bread
  • Method: Baked
  • Cuisine: English

Keywords: cob loaf, crusty white bread

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4 thoughts on “Easy Cob Loaf Recipe

  1. I love the crusty cob loaf; it is one of my favorite breads, along with Cuban bread and French bread. It tastes great toasted and plain with butter.

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