> The Beesley Buzz: Bread Week: Sourdough Cottage Loaf - GBBO Bloggers 2017

Bread Week: Sourdough Cottage Loaf - GBBO Bloggers 2017

For bread week, I've been rather crazy and attempted not one, but 2 bakes. Both on the same day. I couldn't decide whether to attempt the signature tea cakes, the technical cottage loaf or the show stopper coloured bread sculpture. Ok, let's face it, it was never going to be the bread sculpture. Which left me with two to choose from. So I sort of did both. First up is the Cottage loaf and I'll write about my second bake in a different blogpost.

I've rarely eaten cottage loaf and yet I have fond memories of it! When I think back to my primary school days there are very few memories of any actual learning experiences there but one of my early memories of there is making bread and being taught to make a mini cottage loaf. I remember also being shown how to plait bread and it was all such a fun experience.  It really does show how beneficial 'hands-on' learning experiences are to children if I can still remember it over 30 years later!

I've had my own sourdough starter going since the 18th May this year and I decided I wanted to incorporate that into my Cottage Loaf. I haven't have the best experiences of baking with my sourdough starter - It tastes just like it should but I always end up with dense loaves despite trying different rising times and tweaking different things along the way.
my sourdough starter which began life in May

I've discovered that adding a sachet of dried yeast too helps make a softer loaf but it does sadly reduce the sourdough taste (and I suppose defeats the purpose of sourdough being able to be it's own raising agent with the wild yeast in it). But I was desperate for my cottage loaf to work so added dried yeast did go into it.

ingredients mixed in to make the sourdough 'sponge'
I started with 150ml of sourdough starter. To this I added 250g strong wholemeal flour and just under 300ml tepid water. I also added the dried yeast and 10g salt at this stage too. I mixed well and left covered with clingfilm for several hours. This makes what is known as a 'sourdough sponge' and you can see it bubble up. oh, I also added a little squeeze of honey. I wouldn't normally do this and the salt and oil would go in at the next stage ordinarily, but because of the normal yeast being added, I felt I should add the salt and honey too.
how the sourdough sponge looks after several hours

Then it's time to add a further 300g flour. Again I used strong wholemeal flour and a tablespoon of rapeseed oil. This is then kneading time. I actually use the dough hook on my mixer for 10 minutes.

This then gets left again - covered in clingfilm for around half and hour to an hour or two. Then it is knock back the dough time (I've discovered it's best not to knock back sourdough too much as it doesn't always rise well after this).

I shaped it into two cottage loafs and placed them on an oiled baking tray (in the hope that two smaller loaves would cook better than one massive one). I cut the slits in the dough and left it covered with clingfilm for several more hours.

One of the things I struggle with when making bread is the long wait between stages as the dough rises. In theory it may seem that sourdough is even trickier with its longer rising times but I actually find it can fit in with my life better as I can leave it so absolutely ages if I need to and it is just left at room temperature so that makes it easier too.

Finally when it looked like it had risen enough it was oven time! Oven needs to be really hot for sourdough - and steamy. So I use a baking tray of water underneath and I also squirt some water in the oven too.
my UFO look-a-like wholemeal sourdough style cottage loaves

I had the oven at 230C and put the cottages loaves in for 15 minutes to begin with. Then another squirt of water for more steam and another 15 minutes at a slightly lower temperature of 200C.

I have no idea if any of this is 'right' but it is just what I've been doing since making sourdough and it seems to work for me. I think next time I will go back to using just the sourdough starter with no additional yeast and the flavour is amazing - I'll just have to enjoy having denser loaves again.

I was pleased that they remained 'cottage loafy looking' at the end of the process. So I guess that's a good bake.
texture could have been better and more 'sourdough' like but it tasted lovely warm from the oven with butter! 

Linking up with Mummy Mishaps #GBBOBloggers2017:
Mummy Mishaps


  1. Your loaves look so cute! I don't think I've ever eaten a cottage loaf so I am tempted to try.
    I completely get what you mean about leaving it long enough to rise. I think I could leave my dough longer when baking but I get a bit worried and move onto the next stage! I need to keep making bread and hopefully I'll then get more confident with it x

    1. It's really hard to judge how long to leave the dough - i guess it comes with practice and experience - neither of which I have yet! x

  2. your loaves turned out really well and how interesting that you started with a sour dough starter and the added some yeast. The inside of the loaf looks delicious, so soft and light. I have never made a sour dough before - one I must try too.
    thank you for linking to #GBBOBloggers2017 x

  3. They look so lovely Rebecca, I love the fact that you used wholemeal flour rather than the usual white flour.
    How lovely that as a young child you were shown how to shape a Cottage Loaf and even plait bread too! It was clearly a memorable activity. I recall make a loaf of bread with our goldson was very yong (about 3) and he absolutely loved it and was super excited seeing how it changed to a wonderful loaf. Hopefully it'll be a memory he keeps too :-)

    1. I'm sure your godson will remember it - and how wonderful that you've had the opportunity to teach him some of your amazing baking skills! x

  4. I can remember making those small cottage loaves at school too. I've never made a dough starter before but I've always wanted to. Your cottage loaves look amazing.

  5. Your loaves look very homely and comforting. I can just imagine spreading a piece with some hamemade butter!

  6. Replies
    1. thanks louise. Your cottage loaf looked awesome too! x

  7. Wow, considering you used sourdough starter instead of yeast your loaves held their shape pretty well. I bet they tasted amazing.

    1. I actually used regular yeast too as i never get a soft enough loaf with sourdough alone - I need to practice more until i do! x


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