Mix the flour, yeast and salt in a large
mixing bowl. Put in the butter and rub it
into the flour. Make a dip in the centre of
the flour and pour in almost 300ml hand
warm (cool rather than hot) water, with
a round-bladed knife. Then mix in enough
of the remaining water and a bit more if
needed, to gather up any dry bits in the
bottom of the bowl, until the mixture
comes together as a soft, not too sticky,
dough. Gather it into a ball with your hands.
Put the dough onto a very lightly
floured surface and knead for 8-10 mins
until it feels smooth and elastic, only
adding the minimum of extra flour if
necessary to prevent the dough sticking.
Place the ball of dough on a lightly
floured work surface. Cover with an
upturned, clean, large glass bowl and
leave for 45 mins-1 hr or until doubled in
size and feels light and springy. Timing
will depend on the warmth of the room.
Knock back the dough by gently
kneading just 3-4 times. You only want to
knock out any large air bubbles, so too
much handling now will lose the dough’s
lightness. Cut off two-thirds and
one-third with a sharp knife and shape
both into round balls. Cover with the
glass bowl and leave for 10 mins.
Now shape to make a cottage loaf. Gently re-shape the balls of dough if necessary. Sit the
larger ball on a baking parchment-lined
baking sheet. Sit smaller ball in the centre
of the larger one and press down through
the centre of the smaller one right into
larger one with your finger (dipped in
flour so it doesn’t stick), to attach it.
Dust the top with a little flour. Cover
with a clean dry tea towel and leave for
40-45 mins, or until about doubled in size.
Put a roasting tin in the bottom of the
oven 20 mins before ready to bake and
heat oven to 230C/210C fan/gas 8. Put
the risen bread in the oven, carefully pour
about 250ml cold water into the roasting
tin (this will hiss and create a burst of
steam to give you a crisp crust), then
lower the heat to 220C/200C fan/gas 7.
Bake for 30-35 mins or until golden.
Remove and cool on a wire rack. If you
tap the underneath of the loaf if should
be firm and sound hollow.