Lately I discovered myself watching “Bread Week” on The Great British Bake Off and considering I wished to attempt making the weird two-tiered crusty bread the contestants have been challenged with, besides with sourdough starter as an alternative of yeast. The bread was a cottage loaf, a centuries outdated rustic fashion of bread from the English countryside with a stacked form believed to be a technique to suit extra loaves into the ovens of the previous.

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The cottage loaf form jogged my memory a little bit of Pan Gallego con Moña from Spain, with its knot on high, however that bread has a really open crumb, whereas cottage loaves have a young, closed crumb. Each use robust flour, however cottage loaves have a a lot dryer dough that’s enriched with lard or butter. The cottage loaf additionally known as to thoughts the traditional bread of Pompei, the Panis Quadratus, which additionally has 8 cuts within the dough and a little bit of tiering from a string tied round it. Provided that Britain was a part of the Roman Empire for over three centuries, I’m wondering if that is may very well be greater than a coincidence.

Historic ponderings apart, the tough a part of a cottage loaf is ensuring the additional weight of the highest dough doesn’t squash the crumb of the underside dough. I aimed for many of the fermentation to occur earlier than the shaping step so the ultimate proof may very well be simply lengthy sufficient to “heal” the indent made by way of the dough balls to stick them collectively, but in addition quick sufficient that the freestanding dough doesn’t compress an excessive amount of. Additionally I used a totally preheated baking stone on the second from the underside shelf of my oven to ship warmth rapidly to the bottom of the dough so it will develop and set rapidly.

Crusty and mushy

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