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.
- 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)
Making & Proving the Dough (30 min + 1 hr proving)
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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)
- Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured work surface and punch it down all over to knock out large pockets of gas.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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)
- Once the oven is preheated, score the bread with 5 lengthwise slashes using a lame or sharp serrated knife.
- 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.
- Bake at 450 F for 20 minutes. Remove the steam pan and bake for 18-20 minutes longer. Cover it with aluminum foil if it's getting dark. The bread is done cooking when it has an internal temperature of 190-200 F.
- Immediately brush the loaf with butter and let it cool on a wire rack until it's fully cooled, at least 1 hour.
- Always use bread flour, not all-purpose. This kind of flour produces a good rise, high rise, and chewy texture.
- Don't skimp on the kneading. It takes time to build up the proper gluten structure, which is essential.
- 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, it will flatten as it rises, making it rather unattractive.
- Ensure a crackly crust by baking the loaf with a pan of water in the oven and brushing the crust with butter as soon as it comes out of the oven.
- Category: Bread
- Method: Baked
- Cuisine: English
Keywords: cob loaf, crusty white bread