Simple White Cob Loaf

This white cob loaf is made with simple ingredients and no tin is required as it is shaped by hand. A great first bread recipe for beginners!

simple white cob loaf

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I wanted to start my bread recipe posts with something simple and unintimidating. I say this from experience as a simple white cob loaf was the first bread I attempted when I started baking!

It felt amazing seeing this big, round loaf and knowing I somehow made it! So rest assured, if you are new to bread making this is the perfect beginner’s loaf.

Although it seems like a long-winded process, each stage doesn’t actually take that long. The longest part is waiting for the dough to prove! I find this is a great bake for when I’m home all day and can come back to it in-between doing other things.

view inside sliced loaf

Simple ingredients

The ingredients for this white cob recipe are so simple and most you should have already. Strong white flour (best for bread), instant yeast, salt, water and some butter. Isn’t it amazing how these few ingredients create this lovely round loaf?

During my recipe testing process, I did try replacing some water with milk. Using milk instead of water in bread making can result in a softer loaf. However (as I found out) it also gives a darker crust so should be baked at a lower temperature…

example of burned cob loaf
Oops!

How to make a cob loaf

I decided that as my goal here was to make a simple, approachable cob recipe, I’d stick with just water.

As you can see from the above picture, my first attempt also didn’t have the classic tall, round cob appearance that I wanted. I later found out that this is because I didn’t shape the loaf properly after the first prove. The ball needs to have a firm ‘skin’ to maintain it’s round structure. If not, your dough will sink and spread out when proving.

I found a great tutorial on this by Bake With Jack where I learned how to shape my cob better, resulting in a taller, domed loaf!

shaping a cob loaf by hand

Cob loaf texture

This cob has a close crumb but is still nice and light in texture. It is firm enough to slice easily and has a lovely crunchy crust! My test loaves have been used for sandwiches and dipped in casserole and soup.

Did I mention how amazing it is to smell fresh bread baking in your own kitchen?

(For bread with a different texture that doesn’t contain yeast, check out my Bacon, Cheese and Spring Onion Soda Bread and my Classic Irish Soda Bread. No kneading or proving is required for these recipes so they can be made in under an hour!)

close of of slice of bread being buttered

simple cob loaf recipe

If you’re a new baker or inexperienced in bread making, please have a go as you’ll be so glad you did! It is so satisfying making your own loaf and I’ll talk you through all of the steps with some photos below to help!

Once you’ve tried this simple white cob loaf, why not try my tin loaf version!

If you try this recipe I’d love to see! You can show me by tagging me @bakerjoblog or using #bakerjoblog!

view of sliced loaf from above

Other bread recipes to try:

simple white cob loaf

Simple White Cob Loaf

This white cob loaf is made with simple ingredients and no tin is required as it is shaped by hand. A great first bread recipe for beginners!
4.93 from 14 votes
Prep Time 3 hrs
Cook Time 30 mins
Total Time 3 hrs 30 mins
Course Snack
Servings 10 thick slices

Equipment

  • Large bowl
  • Roasting tray
  • Baking tray

Ingredients
  

  • 480 g strong white flour
  • 7 g instant dry yeast
  • 9 g salt
  • 290 ml water tepid/lukewarm
  • 20 g butter softened/room temperature

Instructions
 

  • Add flour to a large bowl. Add the butter, and then the yeast and salt to separate sides of the bowl (so the salt doesn't slow or kill the yeast).  Gently start stirring everything together with your hand until just combined.
  • Pour around 2/3 of the water into the bowl and continue mixing the dough with your hand. Add a little more water, stirring in between additions, until you have a smooth but not soggy dough. You may not need to use all of the water or may need a little more. If you add too much and it becomes soggy sprinkle in a little more flour until you get the correct consistency.
  • Pour and spread a little olive oil onto a clean work surface and place the dough on top. I use oil instead of flour to prevent the flour from affecting the dough’s consistency. Knead the dough on this surface for around 10-12 minutes, until the dough has a smooth ‘skin’. Try your best to knead it for this length of time. Lightly oil the same large bowl and place the dough inside. Cover with a clean cloth or cling film and place in a warm place to prove for 1-2 hours (mine takes 1.5 hours in my airing cupboard!). It is sufficiently proved when it has at least doubled in size.
  • Lightly flour a work surface and gently tip the dough out onto the surface. Gently ‘punch’ the dough to get rid of the air.
  • Now we need to shape the dough into a firm cob shape. Grab an end of the dough, pull it across to the opposite side and press it down into the dough to seal it. 
  • Turn the dough slightly and repeat this process several times, turning slightly each time.
  • As you can see each time you do this the dough becomes tighter and firmer, and you aren’t able to pull as much across. This is building the tension it needs to maintain its round shape without spreading.
  • Now turn it over so all of the fold marks are underneath. You are left with a round, smooth-skinned ball of dough. Place your cupped hands either side of the dough, tucking them under the dough slightly. Now you are going to turn the dough clockwise or anti-clockwise (I go anti-clockwise but it may be because I’m left-handed!). While turning the dough with your hands you also need to tuck your hands underneath, to pull the dough underneath, creating a tighter skin. This means with each turn you’ll lift the dough slightly to tuck your hands under slightly to pull the dough. It’ll make more sense once you start to do it!
  • Once the dough feels firm and holds its shape, place it on your baking tray (silicon or lined with baking paper) and cover gently with a cloth or loose piece of cling film. Leave to rise on this tray for around 1 hour.
  • Pre-heat your oven to 230°C/210°C fan and place an empty roasting tray on the lowest shelf/base of the oven to pre-heat.
  • Once the dough has risen to around double it’s size remove the cling film.
  • Dust with a little flour and then using a sharp knife make several incisions across the top of the loaf.
  • Add boiled water to the empty pre-heated roasting tray in the oven. This will create steam to give the bread a lovely crust! Do this quickly to avoid losing too much heat from the oven.
  • Place the loaf into the oven on the middle shelf and bake for around 30 minutes. You can check if it’s baked by flipping over carefully and tapping the base – it should sound hollow. Place on a wire cooling rack to cool completely.
  • Keep bread well covered in a cool place. Best eaten within three days. Enjoy!

Notes

If you’ve tried this recipe, tag @bakerjoblog on Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest or Twitter and/or use #bakerjoblog!
Keyword bread, bread loaf, cob loaf, simple loaf, white bread
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48 Comments

  1. Carolyn
    4th July 2020 / 1:39 pm

    5 stars
    Just love this recipe. I’m learning breadmaking in lockdown and happened upon this recipe after a google search so tried it out. Just finished attempt no. 3 and each time it’s better than the last.
    The bread is tasty, the method easy to follow .. what more could you ask for? Thanks

    • Jo
      Author
      4th July 2020 / 5:49 pm

      Wow Carolyn, what a lovely comment! πŸ™‚Thank you, that means a lot to me and I’m so happy you find the method easy to follow!

  2. Nikila Liyanage
    26th June 2020 / 12:52 pm

    Hi, silly question . What is string white flour? Is it all purpose flour or self raising flour

    • Jo
      Author
      26th June 2020 / 1:17 pm

      Hi Nikila, that’s not a silly question at all! Strong white flour is flour with a slightly higher level of protein, which is better for making bread to develop the gluten. However, if you can only get your hands on plain white flour that will work, it just may not rise quite so well, but only slightly πŸ™‚ hope this helps!

  3. Hannah
    19th June 2020 / 1:53 pm

    Hello! Have tried this recipe a few times and turns out amazing each time, thank you! Just wondering if it would work leaving it overnight for the first rise? As would like to be able to bake it fresh in the morning for breakfast, thank you!

    • Jo
      Author
      19th June 2020 / 2:25 pm

      Hi Hannah, I’m so glad you like this recipe enough to make it several times!

      I’ve not personally tried proving this bread overnight so can’t promise this would work, though I would suggest keeping it in the fridge rather than a warm environment. This would slow down the proving process to reduce the risk of overproving it.

      Let me know how it goes if you try it!

  4. Lisa
    19th June 2020 / 10:11 am

    5 stars
    Great recipe and instructions thanks Jo. Had tried other breads during lockdown but this was the only one that turned out perfect. Only problem was cutting it in nice slices. Need to sneak this into a store with cutting machine πŸ˜† have you made this recipe but making small rolls? Could this be done by keeping all ingredients same making 6 or 8 rolls and shortening the baking time??

    • Jo
      Author
      19th June 2020 / 10:20 am

      Thanks Lisa! So glad you found my instructions easy to follow πŸ™‚

      I haven’t tried it as rolls yet but it’s on my to-do list! Your suggestion for adjusting baking time sounds good though – maybe to around 20 mins? I’d probably try proving and baking them in a tray bake tin too to keep them more uniform. If you try it let me know how it goes!

  5. Niki
    15th June 2020 / 7:41 am

    First time ever baking bread! It was a success. Thanks so much for such an easy recipe.

    • Jo
      Author
      15th June 2020 / 7:50 am

      Hi Niki, I’m so glad you found my recipe easy to follow as a first time bread maker! Thanks for your comment 😊

  6. Nicola Saxby
    27th May 2020 / 1:48 pm

    5 stars
    Baked this cob today – my first ever freehand bread. Really chuffed with the result. Followed the recipe and method to the t and it’s turned out perfectly.
    Small question though – would reducing the salt slightly affect the bake at all? I could probably take it with a bit less salt in the mix if possible.

    • Jo
      Author
      27th May 2020 / 2:19 pm

      Hi Nicola, thanks for your message! I’m so glad you liked your cob!

      And yes you can absolutely reduce the salt as it’s just there for flavour πŸ™‚

  7. Andy
    24th May 2020 / 10:02 pm

    5 stars
    This recipe is the best I’ve made full stop . I’ve done this a few times in lockdown and it’s always turned out brilliant. I gave one to a neighbour the other day (left on doorstep) and they were amazed it was homemade .

    • Jo
      Author
      25th May 2020 / 12:50 am

      I’m so happy reading this Andy – thank you so much πŸ™‚ I hope you get the chance to make it again in the future!

  8. Michelle Linney
    18th May 2020 / 7:37 pm

    WOW… just wow…
    Just lifted my loaf out the oven and I think it’s the best cob I’ve ever made.. your recipe was easy and straightforward to follow. I’ve been making bread for about 20 yrs and still love trying new recipes, this one will be my favorite go to recipe for the next 20 yrs . Thanks for sharing it with us

    • Jo
      Author
      18th May 2020 / 9:44 pm

      Thank you so much Michelle, your comments have made my day 😊 I’m so happy you found my recipe so easy to follow, it means a lot to me.

      Thanks so much for your support! πŸ’œ

  9. Jess Roach
    2nd May 2020 / 6:26 pm

    5 stars
    Made today and turned out so good!! (If I do say so myself). You would not know it was home made, great crust and so easy. I cooked for slightly longer (35mins?). Have recommended the recipe to my family and both dad and brother are already on their second prove! Will definitely be making again.

    • Jo
      Author
      3rd May 2020 / 4:50 pm

      Hi Jess,

      I’m so happy reading this! I’m really glad you found it so easy to make and that your family are having a go too!

  10. Joan
    30th April 2020 / 12:24 pm

    I mad this loaf and it seemed OK I wasn’t sure about the gas setting so looked it up .The loaf looked great but it was heavy and doughy with a slight aftertaste it looked a bit underdone but wondered if I’d proved it enough I don’t have an airing cupboard so any tips for proving

    • Jo
      Author
      30th April 2020 / 3:05 pm

      Hi Joan,

      Sorry your loaf didn’t turn out as it should have. Underproving could definitely be the cause of a heavy/dense dough as you suggested. If you don’t have an airing cupboard don’t worry, just put the bowl in your warmest room away from any draughts. Proving time can vary anywhere from 1-2 hours depending on the conditions. You’ll know it’s proved enough when it has at least doubled in size – I often take a photo of the dough on my phone before I prove it so I can compare after proving!

      Another cause may be that the dough was slightly too sticky/wet before proving, as this can weight it down. Make sure the dough is soft and smooth, not sticking to the counter or your hands at all.

      I hope these suggestions help if you give it another try!

  11. Ilze
    24th April 2020 / 7:37 pm

    4 stars
    I made this today, my cob loaf looks awesome!. Thank you for the great step by step instructions. Will wait till morning before I have a slice 😊

    • Jo
      Author
      25th April 2020 / 4:25 pm

      I’m so glad you found my instructions helpful, and hope you enjoy when you try it in the morning! πŸ™‚

  12. Yvette
    22nd April 2020 / 4:27 pm

    5 stars
    Made this today, delighted with the results, it was delicious, thanks so much.

    • Jo
      Author
      22nd April 2020 / 7:48 pm

      No problem, I’m so glad you enjoyed it! 😊

  13. Ciar O'Hare
    19th April 2020 / 5:20 pm

    5 stars
    My loaf turned out well although it didn’t double in size when left to rise. This may be because when I added the water to the flour (butter, salt and yeast), some of it mixed with the salt and then spread round to the yeast (all in a matter of seconds!). I put a spoon I’m the way so it didn’t mix with all of the yeast. Do you have a tip for adding the water? If the salt slows (or kills) the yeast, how do you prevent this when adding the water? Adding boiling water to a pre-heated baking tray was a great tip – my loaf had a perfect crust! Thanks for the recipe – not the quickest but definitely worth the wait!

    • Jo
      Author
      19th April 2020 / 10:05 pm

      Hi Ciar, thanks for the question. You could make a well in the middle of the flour to pour the water into, then slowly stir it together. Another reason it may not have risen enough is if it didn’t prove for long enough. It can take around 1-2 hours, maybe longer. It helps to leave it in a warm environment; I put mine in my airing cupboard and that usually takes around 1.5 hours to rise.

      Another factor which may have affected the prove is if the dough was a little too wet or sticky before leaving to prove. It should be soft, smooth and not sticky before proving.

      I hope this helps a little, and I’m glad you agree that the steam helps to create a lovely crust! I hope if you try it again you have more luck next time 😊 thanks for commenting!

  14. Mark Elliott
    18th April 2020 / 3:17 pm

    Made this cob today, absolutely lovely, just as good if not better than the M&S usual!

    • Jo
      Author
      19th April 2020 / 1:59 pm

      So glad you really enjoyed it Mark! 😊

  15. Jan
    17th April 2020 / 6:55 pm

    5 stars
    I have never been able to bake decent bread until this recipe it was fantastic I could have bought it from Marks and Sparks. Thank you will be making this often

    • Jo
      Author
      17th April 2020 / 7:43 pm

      Hi Jan,

      What a lovely comment, thank you so much! I love that this recipe worked for you and that you’ll feel confident making it again in the future 😊

  16. Karen Short
    16th April 2020 / 9:18 pm

    I haven’t baked bread for years but it’s lockdown and I have flour. Followed this to the letter and it is brilliant. I am married to one of the fussiest men in earth and he can’t stop eating it. Thank you

    • Jo
      Author
      17th April 2020 / 10:46 am

      Hi Karen,

      I’m so glad that you and your husband enjoyed this! Especially if your husband is usually a difficult one to please :p

      Thanks and hope you get a chance to make it again! xx

  17. Evie
    16th April 2020 / 9:57 am

    Hi can you tell me how much fresh Yeast I would need for this and how you’d substitute it in?

    • Jo
      Author
      16th April 2020 / 4:34 pm

      Hi Evie,

      Thanks for the question – I’ve not personally used fresh yeast before but after doing some reading up on this, you would need to use around 17.5g fresh yeast (instead of the 9g dry instant yeast). Then I’d recommend pouring around half of the water in my recipe into a bowl, add the fresh yeast to this bowl. Add a pinch of sugar to the water (this helps to activate the yeast), stir the water and leave for around 10 minutes. Once you see little bubbles forming on top of the water, the yeast is ready to use! Then carry on with my recipe as normal – pour all of this water-yeast mixture into the bowl with the flour and then use as much of the leftover water as needed until the dough comes together.

      I hope this makes sense! Good luck and let me know how it goes πŸ™‚ xxx

      • Evie
        27th April 2020 / 4:21 pm

        5 stars
        Thank you so much this worked a treat! So appreciate you taking the time to work it out. My favourite bread recipe and always my go to! X

        • Jo
          Author
          27th April 2020 / 6:06 pm

          Thank you Evie, this comment means a lot! 😊

  18. Vinny
    13th April 2020 / 9:49 pm

    5 stars
    I live in North Bellmore NY, yea…that NY. As we quarantined our selves for the past 3 weeks, we are experimenting with various recipe and boy does this recipe stand out.

    Wow!!! What a fantastic recipe. My wife and 6 year daughter ate the entire loaf in one sitting. The only difference I made was I baked at 430 degrees Fahrenheit and it came out awesome. But think that the our convection runs a bit hotter. Either way,
    2 thumbs up!!!!

    • Jo
      Author
      13th April 2020 / 10:10 pm

      Hi Vinny,

      Thanks for the great review, it means a lot! πŸ™‚

  19. Shirley
    12th April 2020 / 8:14 pm

    Loved the bread, I live in S.C. , the U.S. Do you have any other recipes for bread or rolls, I really like the bread so much , that I would like to try your other recipes.

    • Jo
      Author
      13th April 2020 / 9:29 am

      Hi Shirley,

      Wow I’m so happy that you enjoyed my bread so much! I do have a soda bread recipe on my blog too, which is a really easy quick bread to make. I’m also about to start working on a new whole wheat seeded loaf, so if you sign up to receive my recipes by email you’ll know as soon as it’s been published πŸ™‚

      Thanks again for your support!

  20. 5th April 2020 / 7:43 pm

    5 stars
    Jo … complete novice at bread making! You’ve made this do easy Thank you!
    Turned out tremendously well. Will definitely be making this again and again πŸ‘πŸ˜

    • Jo
      Author
      6th April 2020 / 4:46 pm

      Aww Charlie this comment has made my day! I’m so glad you found the recipe easy to follow and feel more confident with bread making now 😊

  21. Carol. Mullen
    3rd December 2019 / 12:54 pm

    Is the bread placed right on the rack inside oven to bake?

    • Jo
      Author
      3rd December 2019 / 9:09 pm

      Hi Carol, you place the loaf onto a lined/silicon baking tray first then into the oven.

      Let me know how you get on πŸ™‚

  22. judith judge
    1st July 2019 / 12:05 am

    5 stars
    could you possible giev me the recipe in cups etc

    • Jo
      Author
      17th July 2019 / 5:18 pm

      Hi Judith, I’m sorry I don’t use cup measurements but there are a lot of websites with conversion charts/calculators that you could use! Hope this helps πŸ™‚

  23. Hilda Manville
    2nd April 2019 / 3:58 pm

    I mad this. Bread once and love it , now I have my second one in the works.

    • Jo
      Author
      2nd April 2019 / 7:11 pm

      So happy you liked it Hilda! Thanks for the great feedback 😊

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