Makes a deliciously soft and flavourful bread to go with your favourite spreads, as sandwich slices and in bread puddings.
So, get this – keyword for me this year is ‘house-keeping’. And I don’t mean literally, the space within the walls that I call home. Like, for example, how I started poring through a year’s accumulation of food photographs, thinking to sieve through the mass of digital images. Only to realise that I hadn’t gotten around to writing about some really good stuff, gastronomically speaking. Like this seriously (seriously!) delicious English cottage bread.
And I thought this would make for a nice departure from my posts the past couple of weeks on festive treats – goodness knows I’ve had more than my fair share of Chinese New Year feasting and (gulp…), endless, unhindered snacking.
Maybe it was also because I felt just a tad healthier (read: less guilty) when simply looking at much more wholesome foods that aren’t loaded as much, with fats, grease or sugar, which I have to admit, is a desperately needed respite from staring at cakes, pastries and fried foods over CNY. Hence, this is a really great back-to-basics food staple – the humble bread loaf.
I don’t know about you, but whenever I see a fresh loaf of bread, butter kaya toasts, or egg-dipped, cinnamon-infused French toast generously drizzled with maple syrup (thanks to my friend, Felicia, who triggered this craving), fill my mind to no end! Or, just making simple toasted ham and cheese, or club sandwiches, for a lunch eat-in. Filled with healthy, nutritious fillings, cottage bread makes delicious school lunches for kids. Even better, slices of English cottage bread make for a delicious bread pudding, if you haven’t yet tried it. Check out my recipe artcles on Welsh Bara Brith (a fruit-filled bread loaf) and Kugelhopf.
I’ve made this English cottage bread on many occasions, and this recipe is a keeper! The bread is very flavourful, soft and fluffy, and beats most store-bought breads, thumbs down. Yet, for all it’s softness, it’s surprsingly sturdy, and can sandwich pretty hefty fillings too. If you have an electric mixer with a dough hook attachment, making this is almost effortless. And best of all, I’ve found that nothing can quite surpass the wonderful, heady aroma of freshly baked bread wafting through your home. Don’t wait, do try it!
English Cottage Bread
- 400 g bread flour
- 100 g plain flour
- 45 g caster sugar
- 10 g salt
- 20 g milk powder
- 3 1/2 tsp instant yeast
- 1 egg
- 260 ml cold water
- 60 g butter
For the Topping (Optional):
- 6 tbsp butter
- 3 tbsp sugar
- Mix all the dry ingredients (flours, sugar, salt, milk powder, and yeast) together in a a mixer bowl. Add the egg and cold water. Using an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook attachment, knead to form a dough.
- Add butter, and knead until dough becomes soft and elastic. Set dough aside to ferment for 60 minutes.
- Divide the dough into 2 equal portions. Shape each portion into a ball. Set aside for another 10 minutes to rest.
- Using your fingers, flatten each into a rectangle, making the short side about the same length as the bread tin. Roll up each like a log or Swiss roll.
- Grease two (2) bread or loaf tins (length 20 cm x width 11 cm x height 11 cm). Put one rolled dough in each tin. Set aside to proof for 45 minutes, or until dough has doubled in size.
- Using a sharp knife, score a line once lengthwise and slightly off centre, across the top of each loaf. Drop the butter, and sprinkle the sugar, equally between the 2 loaves, into the slits and on the tops.
- Bake at 180 deg C for 30 minutes. Remove the loaves from the tins immediately, and set aside to cool completely on a cooling rack. Slice and serve as desired.