My latest bread recipe for Sourdough Traditional Cottage Loaf, is a classic British loaf, beloved of all small bakeries. It also makes a great addition to that quintessential of pub meals, The Ploughman’s Lunch.
A Ploughman’s Lunch for Plough Monday
My latest bread recipe for Sourdough Traditional Cottage Loaf, is a classic British loaf, beloved of all small bakeries.
This Sourdough Traditional Cottage Loaf also makes a great addition to that quintessential of pub meals, The Ploughman’s Lunch.
Just the words Ploughman’s Lunch conjures up images of lazy lunches sat outside with friends, in the Beer Garden of an old Country Pub.
However, even during the winter months this is fabulous when enjoyed by the fire for an indoor picnic, and especially for Plough Monday, which this year falls on the 10th January 2022.
And, a Sourdough Traditional Cottage Loaf is just the right vehicle for transporting all that cheese and pickle to hungry mouths!
My recipe today is made from my Classic Sourdough Bread made Easy, but is proved overnight in the mixing bowl and not a banetton, and is shaped next day.
Although I have always made my Cottage Loaves in the past with fresh (or dry) yeast, this recipe really does work so well with sourdough starter.
A Cottage Loaf is a hearty and unusual shaped bread that epitomises the rustic lunch and farmhouse tea time, and we love it in our house.
Back to a Ploughman’s Lunch; this is one of the most famous of pub lunches, so simple and yet so satisfying, especially if taken with a pint of real ale or cider.
Although the term “Ploughman’s Lunch” was first coined in the 1930’s, as part of a very successful marketing campaign, the concept behind it goes back much further.
Throughout the centuries, agricultural workers would take their lunch out to the fields with them.
This usually consisted of bread and cheese with ale or cider, the perfect combination when working outdoors, as in carbs and protein to keep them going.
It also makes excellent picnic food, which is easy to pack and transport. Ham is often added to modern day Ploughman’s lunches.
Traditionally it was the day on which farm workers returned to their duties after the Christmas and New Year break.
A plough would be taken to the local church to be blessed in order to “speed the plough” and ensure a bountiful harvest later in the year.
It was a difficult time of year for ploughman, as the ground was hard and difficult to work on, so the ploughmen would decorate their ploughs and take them around the local villages where they would ask for money from the wealthy landowners.
In Norfolk “Molly Dances” were performed by the young plough boys, whilst in the Midlands “Mummers Plays” were put on for entertainment.
The Plough Boys were known as Plough Jacks, Plough Bullocks or Plough Stots and they many of them blackened their faces, a tradition still practised today.
In the Cambridgeshire Fens, children would collect money before they went to school, which was called “Ploughwitching”.
My recipe for Sourdough Traditional Cottage Loaf is shared below, and I hope you enjoy baking and eating this classic British bread if you make it. Karen
How to assemble a Ploughman’s Lunch
- You need cheese, sometimes two or three types of cheese is nice. I’ve used all BRITISH cheeses: Harrogate Blue and Buffalo Blue from Shepherd’s Purse in Yorkshire. (I also served their Olde York cheese too) Cote Hill Lindum Cheese from Lincolnshire, and Tunworth Cheese from Hampshire.
- You need crusty bread, such as my recipe today for Sourdough Traditional Cottage Loaf.
- You need chutney, as it is Winter and rhubarb is in season, I used Rhubarb & Gin Chutney from Snowdonia Cheese Company in North Wales.
- You need pickles or pickled onions too, I used my own Traditional Homemade Pickled Onions.
- Salad is sometimes used, mainly tomatoes and colelsaw.
- You can add meat, as in sliced ham or even pork pies or scotch eggs.
- Fruit is often added, such as apples and pears.
- Butter is essential too!
Step-by-Step Shaping & Scoring for the COTTAGE LOAF
- Can be divided into 2, to make 2 smaller Cottage Loaves.
- Freezes well, either whole or in slices. Wrap in greaseproof paper. Defrost overnight.
- Ancient grains can be used in place of 100% strong white flour.
- You can also make small Cottage Loaf bread rolls, just divide into 8 pieces and then cut each piece into 2/3 and 1/3 to shape.
More Bread Recipes
- Easy Sourdough Sandwich Bread
- Milk Fadge: Emergency Bread (No Yeast) Recipe
- Mum’s Scottish Morning Rolls – Baps
- Cheese and Garlic Sourdough Bread
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Recipe for Sourdough Traditional Cottage Loaf
- 60g recently fed sourdough starter
- 8g teaspoon sea salt
- 300ml tepid filtered water (or boiled water)
- 500g strong white bread flour
- Rice flour OR wheat flour (for dusting)
1. 2 to 3 hours before you want to start your sourdough bread, take the starter out of the fridge and feed it with 40g filtered water and 40g strong white bread flour. Mix well, cover with cling film (or a shower cap) and set to one side to start working. After 2 to 3 hours the starter should be frothy and light with lots of bubbles and it may be making a noise, as in singing! It's now ready to use. Put the covered starter back in the fridge until it is needed next time you want to bake.
2. Place a bowl onto some digital scales and set the tare to zero. Add 60g of sourdough starter and set the tare to zero again; then add the salt and water, again, I find it easier to set the tare to zero before adding the flour. Take the bowl off the scales and mix well, it will look rough and lumpy, but never fear it will soon start to look like bread dough! Cover the dough with cling film/shower cap and set to one side.
3. After an hour, uncover it and with your hands, bring the dough from the outside, and fold it into the middle. Do this for about 15 to 20 times - I find it is easier if I rotate the bowl at the same time. Cover it and set to one side.
4. Do the folding and turning action two or three more times over the next few hours, by this time the dough will be smooth, elastic and sticky. I start this at about 3pm to 4pm and the dough is ready at about 8pm to 9pm.
5. Once the dough is smooth and elastic (see above) and it will have risen by now too, do one more set of folding actions with the dough, and then cover the bowl with cling film/shower cap and set to one side in a cool place to prove overnight. (I use my pantry which is about 14 degrees C)
6. In the morning, the dough will have risen overnight and you will have a large, round ball of smooth dough that's ready to bake. Pre-heat the oven to 230C/220C Fan/450F/425F Fan/Gas mark 8, and grease and/or line a large baking tray.
7. Tip the dough out into a floured board, lightly knead it to bring it all together, then divide it into two-thirds and a third. Shape the pieces into rounds. Cover them and leave for 5 minutes.
8. Place the large ball onto prepared baking sheet, then place the smaller round on top of the larger one.
9. Push a floured wooden spoon (or your fingers) through the centre of both rounds, to join them together. Take a very sharp knife or a lame, and make cuts all around the top round and the bottom round - see my photos.
10. Bake for about 35 to 45 minutes in the pre-heated oven, until dark golden brown and hollow sounding when tapped beneath.
11. Allow to cool before slicing. Delicious served with butter, jam, cheese, cold meats or for sandwiches and toast.
Can be divided into 2, to make 2 smaller Cottage Loaves.
Freezes well, either whole or slices. Defrost overnight.
Ancient grains can be used in place of 100% strong white flour.
You can also make small Cottage Loaf bread rolls, just divide into 8 pieces and then cut each piece into 2/3 and 1/3 to shape.
Nutrition InformationYield 12 Serving Size 1
Amount Per Serving Calories 245Total Fat 1gSaturated Fat 0gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 1gCholesterol 0mgSodium 261mgCarbohydrates 51gFiber 2gSugar 0gProtein 7g