Tuesday, 2 July 2013

Working from home vegan afternoon cob loaf

500g strong bread flour (plus extra for dusting)
7g salt
10g instant yeast
30 unsalted vegetable butter
320ml cool water
Rape seed oil for kneading
Makes ~ 1 loaf
Preparation/Baking Method:
Tip the flour into a large mixing bowl. Add the salt to one side of the bowl and the yeast to the other/ Add the butter and 3/4 of the water and turn the mixture round with your fingers.
Continue to add the remaining water, a little at a time, until you've picked up all the flour from the sides of the bowl. You may not need to add all the water, or you may need to add a little more - you want dough that is soft but not soggy. Use the mixture to clean the inside of the bowl and keep going until the mixture forms a rough dough.
Coat the work top with a little rape seed oil, then tip the dough onto it and begin to knead. Keep kneading for 5-10 minutes. Work through the initial wet stage until the dough starts to form a soft, smooth skin.
When your dough feels smooth and silky, put it in a lightly oiled large bowl. Cover with a tea towel and leave to rise until at least doubled in size (1 hour).
Line a baking tray with baking parchment or silicone paper.
Once risen, the dough should be bouncy and shiny. Scrape it out of the bowl onto a lightly floured surface.
First shape into a ball by folding it inwards repeatedly until all the air is knocked out and the dough is smooth. Then form it into a round, smooth cob shape.*
Put the dough on the baking tray and place in a clean plastic bag. Leave to prove for about 1 hour until the dough is at least doubled in size and springs back quickly if you prod it lightly with your finger.
Meanwhile heat your oven to 230C/440F/gas 8, put a pizza stone on the bottom shelf and put a roasting tray in the bottom to heat up.
Dust the dough with some flour, then slash deeply with a knife. Fill the hot roasting tray in the oven with hot water; this will create steam and give your bread a lighter crust. Place your bread and baking paper onto the pizza stone and bake for 30 minutes or until it's cooked through and sounds hollow when tapped on the base.
Leave for your boyfriend to eat, because you have to catch a train for the coast, and you can't take it with you because you don't have enough time for it to cool. Then eat it on Sunday night, toasted with lashings of butter and half a block of cheese.
*Cob - This is the term used to describe a domed round loaf.
To form a cob, first tip out your risen dough onto a very lightly floured surface, then knock out the air with your hands. Flatten the dough into a rough rectangle, then roll it into an oblong. Turn the dough so that the longer edge is running away from you and flatten it slightly. Now roll the 2 ends in towards the centre so you end up with a chunky, squarish shape. Turn the dough over on your work top, so that the join is underneath.
To shape the dough into a smooth, domed cob, you now need to use both hands. With you palms turned upwards, position your hands on each side and slightly underneath the dough. Move your hands round the cob, tucking the dough neatly underneath itself.
Keep going(!), gently forcing the sides of the dough down and underneath to create a smooth, taunt top and a rough underside.
Avoid adding any extra flour during the shaping if you possibly can.
Voila...Cob loaf.
Notes: Delicious. Worth all the time involved to make it happen.

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