Posts Tagged ‘origin of cottage loaves’

Photo: telegraph.co.uk

Imagine how chuffed I was to see my photo of cottage loaves (duly credited) appear in Lucy Jones’ article in the Telegraph UK!

Poor old Princess Anne – I hope she wasn’t too upset by the comparison of her hairstyle to an old style bread – but I guess if it helps to bring cottage loaves back into the public eye, then that can only be a good thing.

One of the theories behind the origin of the cottage loaf was given to me by UK based Peter May, who believes it originated hundreds of years ago when it was illegal to sell underweight bread in England:

The reason for the top (the same reason as for the ‘bakers dozen’ , which means 13) was the extremely severe penalties suffered by bakers who gave short measure.  Loaves had to be sold by standard weight, thus to ensure the baker didn’t sell underweight he’d add a small dough ball on top.

Incidentally the bread laws which date from 1266 have been law right up to 2009 when the EU overruled them in the name of so called competition. Loaves had to be a full 800g (2lb) or half 400g (1lb)sizes.

I have baker friends who don’t see the sense in this, because the dough weight could be adjusted with water – why waste the extra flour?  But I do think there is some merit in Peter’s argument – the finished weight of a loaf can vary quite a lot depending on baking conditions, and if I was at risk of being flogged for a light loaf, I’d be inclined to add a little to the top as well.

Don’t forget we’re having a cottage loaf bake-off – if or when you’ve baked a loaf, please send me a photo and I’ll upload it here!

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