“Red current jelly was served with the cold mutton, and potato salad and pickled cabbage, afterwards there was a deep apple pie with lots of Devonshire cream. In the centre of the dinner-table, just below the cruet stand, stood an enormous loaf of bread. Mr. Harding, the baker, cooked one for Father every Saturday. It was four loaves baked in one so that it did not get as stale as four small loaves would have. It was made cottage-loaf-shape–two storeys high with a dimple in the top.” The Book of Small by Emily Carr.
Cottage loaves are a traditional British shaped loaf, perhaps going back to Roman times. One small ball of dough is placed on top of a larger one and it’s supposed to resemble a cottage. Traditionally they are made with a plain white or whole wheat dough. I’ve made mine with my everyday sourdough, with just a few changes. It’s really just a fun way to shape the dough as it will taste the same as when made in the loaf pan.
I’ve always liked to experiment with different shapes with bread. There is something so fun about taking the same dough and shaping it into different forms. As a busy mother, I haven’t had as much time to do so the last few years, but the above quote from Emily Carr’s biographical work, The Book of Small, inspired me to give it a try. Besides letting it over rise, I think it was a success! I think it would be a fun shaped bread to serve when company is over or with a big pot of stew. And I always love trying “traditional” things, even bread loaf shapes.
The book is very interesting. I hadn’t heard of it before, but my mother owned it and I started reading it one day and got hooked. Emily Carr is best known for her art, but this little book of sketches from her childhood is absolutely fascinating. Her childhood took place in a very interesting time frame ( Victorian) in a very interesting place (Victoria, B.C.) when it was still a wild and untamed land. My husband and I have visited Victoria, and it’s absolutely beautiful, so I especially thought it interested to read what it was like in her childhood.
I felt a special connection to Emily as a child as she reminded me of myself as a child quite a bit. We were both happy to play by ourselves in our little dream worlds, especially if animals were nearby. We also were both very affected by pain experienced by animals. The trauma Emily felt over dogs being abused or shot, was the same that I felt over teenagers abusing animals for “fun”. Yet, there is one difference I hope to have with Emily. There is a thread of melancholy that winds itself around her stories. One sometimes gets the impression that she remembers more of the sad things of her childhood then the happy things. I want to look back at my life and see the happy things at least just as much as the sad, if not more. All in all though, an enjoyable read and a very interesting view into an Victorian childhood on the edge of “civilization”.
- 1 cup of recently fed sourdough starter
1 cup of water
1 1/2 teaspoon unrefined salt
2-4 tablespoons honey
3-5 cups of whole wheat flour
1) In a medium sized bowl, combine the starter, water, salt and honey. Using a sturdy wooden spoon, stir in flour until you can no longer stir. Turn out onto the counter and knead in enough flour to make a firm dough. Knead for about 5 minutes.
2) Grease a bowl with plenty of rise room with a little bit of olive oil and place your dough inside it. Turn the dough upside down so that there is now oil on the top of the dough. Cover and let rise in a warm place for 3-12 hours, or until double in size.
Using two fingers, press down through the small ball into the large ball. This helps both give it the customary shape and helps the dough stick together.
See how it’s “breaking” a bit on the side? That is showing that it’s over risen. It didn’t have as nice of a shape because of it, but that’s okay!
In a 375 degree oven cook for 45 minutes, or until nicely browned and it sounds hollow when knocked on the bottom side. Let cool and slice and serve with butter.