Saturday, May 16, 2020

Bread Baking Babes Go Cottage Style

One of the side effects of the pandemic is that more people are baking bread...a good thing...and that yeast and flour are scarce...a not so good thing and probably a side effect of the first, good, thing. Fortunately I have some flours and grains stored in the fridge because today's challenge, brought to us by the lovely and talented Cathy of Bread Experience is to make a Early American Cottage Loaf, similar to ones that the pioneers, who settled America, would make. It uses a combination of grains.

Cathy says, "Since white flour is in short supply in a number of places, I thought using a mixture of grains would be more appropriate. Of course, things are changing daily.

Another thing I really liked about this cottage loaf is that it is made in a casserole dish which solves the problem of the top falling over.  However, that being said, after baking, my loaf stuck to the bottom of the dish so that’s something that needs to be mitigated if you go with the casserole dish.  I greased the dish really well, but I think it would benefit from some parchment paper on the bottom as well.

The mixture of grains gives it a wonderful flavor.  It was surprisingly very moist.  I enjoyed the sweetness, but I’m wondering if 3 tablespoons of honey may be a bit too much. " I used the full 3 tablespoons of honey and I think I would reduce it to 2 tablespoons next time I bake this loaf.

This is a delicious, fairly dense, moist loaf with a tight crumb and good flavor from the mixed grains. I used bread flour, white whole wheat flour, barley flour, flax meal, oats and the 2 tablespoons cornmeal, but mine was coarse corn meal...more like polenta. I left my dough to sit overnight in the fridge because it usually helps develop the flavors and because I wanted to bake it for dinner and that ship had sailed the day I made the dough. I used the dry yeast version, not the sourdough.

I served it, sliced and slightly re-warmed, with dinner on Wednesday, along with a chicken salad with lots of veggies. I also made a grilled chicken sandwich with it and that was excellent! It would make awesome French toast, too.

If you are new to bread making, just remember that because this has lots of grains and the uncooked oats, it will probably take longer than you think to rise. If you are looking for a loaf that has those artisan big holes, this isn't the recipe. If you are looking for a delicious, fairly healthy bread that looks great with that topknot and bakes up pretty within a casserole, this is one to try.

If you don't have wheat germ or flax meal or barley flour or any fancy flour, just go with bread flour and whole wheat flour and oats and corn meal and be sure to weigh the ingredients so that you can add the weight of the grains you left out, replacing them with one of the grains you are using. If you only have bread flour and oats, go with that, again using the full weight of grains in the recipe. I would definitely let the dough sit in the fridge overnight (with a light spray of oil on it to keep it from drying out, plus some plastic wrap. It will still be delicious with fewer grains. I suspect that there were times when the pioneer women and mountain men only had whole wheat flour and maybe a little corn meal. Have fun playing with this. As long as you keep the ingredients warmer than 110 degrees will be hard to not have a wonderful Cottage Loaf.

If you bake this bread, please consider being a Bread Baking Buddy. Just send your URL, along with a photo and a short description of your bake, to Cathy. Her post also has some great photos showing how to shape and attach the top knot of dough. Check it out! Deadline is May 30th.

Also, please check out the other bakes that the Bread Baking Babes have done. Happy Baking!

Aparna - My Diverse Kitchen HERE
Kelly - A Messy Kitchen HERE
Karen - Karen's Kitchen Stories HERE
Elizabeth - blog from OUR kitchen HERE
Judy - Judy's Gross Eats HERE
Tanna - My Kitchen in Half Cups HERE

I'll add more as they post over the next few days.

Early American Cottage Loaf - Yeast version

Pioneers blended grains available to produce breads with interesting texture. These wholesome, unusual shaped loaves were baked in cast iron pots in the cottage fireplace. We can use the oven and a casserole dish or cast iron pot...easier!


Yeast Version:

1¼ cups water
2 TBSP oil (I used olive oil)
3 TBSP honey
2¼ cups (286 grams) bread flour 
1 cup (120 grams) whole wheat flour (I used 90 grams white whole wheat flour and 30 grams barley flour) 
1½ tsp salt
2 TBSP wheat germ (I used an extra 2 tablespoons whole wheat flour instead)
¼ cup (30 grams) oat or wheat bran (I used ground flax meal)
¼ cup (30 grams) oatmeal (I used quick oats)
2 TBSP corn meal
1-½ tsp instant dried yeast 

Note: You may need to add more flour depending on the coarseness of your flour.

Sourdough Version:
120 grams sourdough starter, fed & active (or create a levain the night before with a tablespoon of starter + 50 grams flour and and 50 grams water to equal 120 grams and let it ferment overnight)
220 grams water
27 grams oil
63 grams honey
226 grams all-purpose or bread flour
120 grams whole wheat flour
9 grams salt
14 grams wheat germ
30 grams rolled oats (old fashioned)
30 grams oat or wheat bran
15 grams corn meal

*The method is the same for sourdough except you would add the sourdough with the wet ingredients and give it a longer ferment.

In a large bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients, including the dried yeast and salt. 

In a separate container, mix together the water, honey, and oil.  Pour the wet ingredients over the dry ingredients and mix until thorough combined.  Knead until smooth and elastic.

Cover. Let rise 45 min to 1 hour; perform stretch and fold; then let rise an additional hour.  Perform the ripe test. 

Turn dough onto lightly floured surface; punch down to remove air bubbles. Cut off 1/3 piece of dough. Let dough relax for 15 minutes.  

Shape each section into a round ball. Place larger ball in greased 2 ½ -quart casserole or soufflĂ© dish. Using a sharp knife or lame, cut a cross, about 1 ½ inches across, in the top of the larger piece of dough.  

Brush the surface with water and then place the smaller piece of dough on top. Press through the center of both pieces of dough using the handle of a wooden spoon or your finger.  

Cover; let rise until indentation remains after lightly touching dough.

Just before baking, stick handle of wooden spoon or finger into hole again.  And, using a sharp knife or lame, make 8 long slashes around the top and 12 smaller slashes around the bottom of the loaf. (I used fewer slashes and it turned out fine.)   

Bake in preheated 375°F oven 35 to 40 minutes. Remove from dish; cool on rack.

Note: You can substitute Instant (fast-rising) yeast for Active Dry Yeast. Traditional methods- replace 1:1. Expect your dough to rise faster; always let your dough rise until ‘ripe’. Bread Machines- use ½ tsp Instant yeast (or ¾ tsp Active Dry yeast) per cup of flour in your recipe.


  1. I like the addition of barley flour, and I didn't even think about flax! That would be wonderful as well. Beautiful color, too bad it stuck but you can't tell at all.

  2. Your loaf looks perfect. I love what you added to the dough! I did use parchment and it really helped (I've been down that road before!)

  3. A perfect loaf Pat! Gorgeous color. Perfect bake I’d say.
    Beautiful toast photo.

  4. Look at that crumb! Gorgeous. I bet it was wonderful with chicken salad.

    (Too bad about the sticking to the bottom of the dish though!)

  5. Lovely crumb! Thanks for providing the tips about substituting different grains. Barley is a great choice.

  6. The only flour I have been able to get is cake flour. I tried - doesn't work well for bread lol
    Your loaf looks wonderful!