The Crusty Cob is yet another chance to take down Goliath. While the White Bread turned out to be a success, one can never be too careful and let down their guard. Each loaf of bread needs to be attacked with the same tenacity, respect, and “healthy” fear as the first. At least that’s my ever so humble opinion.
The Crusty Cob can be traced back to the British Isles during early medieval times… or the Dark Ages. The name “Cob” was used to refer to a round loaf of bread, often crusty, found in the middle to north west area or England. There are two possible sources for the origin of this term. 1) The bread is called “Cob”, coming from the Anglo Saxon term for “head” because of it’s size and shape 2) or because it’s shape resembles that of the common cobblestone. Either way, This is one fine bread that has a crusty exterior and a soft center.
This bread starts out with 4 cups of white bread flour (I substituted all purpose flour), 1 tbsp salt, 30 g yeast, 1/3 stick of softened butter, 1 1/4 cup of water. This time I noticed that while all the water was needed for the White Bread, it was not for this loaf. It also did not rise as much as I had anticipated so there may be something to the salt and yeast argument after all.
Starting is a little different with this bread. You put everything accept the water, into a bowl and mix it together. I reverted the the Kitchen Aid once again to do all the heavy mixing for me. After these ingredients are mixed well you will added the water and allow to mix until all dried crumbs are mixed in. This may take 2 – 5 minutes. Once everything is incorporated, dump dough onto a floured counter and kneed for 5 minutes. Seeing as it worked for me the first time, I left it all in the mixer and allowed the dough hook to do the job for me and it turned out just great. Now allow to rest for 2 hours.
Shape the dough into a ball and place on baking sheet. You can line the sheet with parchment paper but I prefer to grease it with some olive oil instead. I did this mainly because I don’t have parchment paper around the house and there was a bottle of olive oil on my counter. Preheat oven to 425. Just before putting the dough in the over, take a sharp knife and make two cuts across the top of the bread, dust with flour, and then place in over for 30 minutes. This bread turns out a little denser than the White Bread but its crusty exterior makes it a great bread to go with soup.Adapted From: Hollywood, Paul. 100 Great Breads. Edited by Victoria Alers-Hankey and Barbara Dixon. New York: Cassell Illustrated, 2004.