As today turned into a baking day, I decided to make an English cottage loaf, it's been on my list for a long time.
From what I understand, it's regular white bread baked in a specific shape. I did a bit of searching on the internet for a recipe with sourdough, but didn't find any, so decided to improvise as usual.
I did find this quite useful post, which had some good tips to help me succeed. Mainly that the dough needs to be fairly stiff, around 60 % hydration.
Having immersed myself into Baker's Percentage, I tried to work out a recipe with 1000 g strong white flour and 600 g water.
Lately I've followed the 1:2:3 recipe for my sourdough breads, meaning 1 part starter to 2 parts water to 3 parts flour and then usually 1 part would be 200 g, I thought that 300 g starter for my cottage loaf would be just right.
Meaning 150 g flour and 150 g water to be reduced from my above planned recipe.
300 g starter
450 g water
850 g strong white flour
I put these all in my Kitchen Assistent and turned it on to combine the ingredients. I then allowed it to autolyse for 30 minutes, another thing I've been doing lately that has worked well. I then started the machine again and went away for 18 minutes, only to come back to something that had just started turning creamy. That means overworked!!! Some time ago I found a very interesting web site, where someone had made an experiment on this. Up to a point gluten develops, but if you don't stop, it breaks down again and becomes wet and gooey.
I didn't have the heart to just throw it away, but set it aside to see if it would rise. It did and pretty well too.
Another hot tip from the web site was to have the top part of the cottage loaf be about half the weight of the bottom part. Now I had quite a lot of dough, so I decided to first divide it into two and make two cottage loaves.
Then I shaped two large and two small balls and let proof for about 45 minutes, then placed the larger balls onto baking dishes lined with baking parchment and sprinkled with flour. On top of each, I placed the smaller balls. I then pushed my thumb down in the middle of each loaf, all the way down to the bottom in order to get the two parts to hold together. I allowed a second proofing of some 30 minutes, while waiting for my sourdough cinnamon buns to finish baking.
I brushed one of the loaves with the leftover egg wash, then slashed before putting in the oven and baking at around 200 degrees C for some 40 - 45 minutes.
Some time after I took them out of the oven, I realised that I'd forgotten to add salt. That might have made some difference to the dough coming together, must remember next time.
I guess they look OK for a first attempt, but some practice is required, as is watching the machine while it kneads the dough, so it doesn't get overworked. As per usual, my slashing didn't quite work, but I discovered that the razor blade had gone dull, which might explain this.