Paul Hollywood's crusty cob loaf

(150 ratings)
 Paul Hollywood's crusty cob loaf
 Paul Hollywood's crusty cob loaf
  • Makes: 1

  • Prep time:

    (may need an extra hr)
  • Cooking time:

  • Total time:

  • Skill level: Bit of effort

  • Costs: Cheap as chips

For tasty, soft, white homemade bread, have a go at Paul Hollywood's crusty cob loaf recipe from The Great British Bake Off. Paul has previously said: 'Making bread takes time, but it's not difficult' and we agree, follow these simple steps to have your own home made bread on the table, still warm from the oven. Once you get familiar with a basic recipe like this you can experiment with sweet or savory flavours like dried cranberries or chopped olives and rosemary. Try topping it with butter and jam or dunking it into soup.


  • 500g/1lb 1oz strong white bread flour, plus a little extra flour for finishing
  • 40g/1½oz soft butter
  • 12g/2 sachets fast action dried yeast
  • 10g/2tsp salt
  • About 300ml tepid water (warm not cold - about body temperature)
  • A little olive or sunflower oil
  • Additional cold water, for creating steam in the oven
You'll also need:

  • Large mixing bowl
  • Flat baking tray
  • Old roasting tin
  • Clean tea towel
  • Baking parchment or silicone paper (not greaseproof)

Leave the dough to prove in a warm, but not hot place. In hot temperatures the yeast will work too quickly and your bread won’t have as much flavour.

Paul Hollywood, Great British Bake Off Judge and Baking Guru


  1. Weigh out the ingredients.
  2. Put the flour into a large mixing bowl and add the butter. Add the yeast to one side of the bowl and add the salt to the other - the salt will kill the yeast if they come into direct contact. Stir all the ingredients with a spoon to combine.
  3. Add half of the water and turn the mixture round with your fingers. Continue to add water a little at a time, combining well, until you’ve picked up all of the flour from the sides of the bowl. You may not need to add all of the water, or you may need to add a little more - you want a dough that is well combined and soft, but not sticky or soggy. Mix with your fingers to make sure all of the ingredients are combined and use the mixture to clean the inside of the bowl. Keep going until the mixture forms a rough dough.
  4. Use about a teaspoon of oil to lightly grease a clean work surface (using oil instead of flour will keep the texture of the dough consistent). Put your dough onto the greased work surface. Make sure you have plenty of space.
  5. Fold the far edge of the dough into the middle, then turn the dough by a quarter turn and repeat. Do this several times until the dough is very lightly coated in olive oil.
  6. Now use your hands to knead the dough. Push the dough out in one direction with the heel of your hand, then fold it back on itself, turn the dough a quarter turn and repeat. Kneading in this way stretches the gluten and makes the dough elastic. Do this for about 4 or 5 mins until the dough is smooth and stretchy. Work quickly so that the mixture doesn’t stick to your hands. If it does get too sticky you can add a little flour to your hands.
  7. Clean and lightly oil your mixing bowl and put the dough back into it. Cover with a damp tea towel or lightly oiled cling film and leave it on one side to prove. This gives the yeast time to work and the dough will double in size. This should take about an hour, but will vary depending on the temperature of your room.
  8. Stage two: Line a baking tray with baking parchment or silicone paper.
  9. Once the dough has doubled in size you can scrape it out of the bowl to shape it. The texture should be bouncy and shiny. Put it onto a lightly floured surface and knock it back - use your hand to roll the dough up, then turn by a quarter turn and roll it up again. Repeat several times. Then use your hands to gently turn and smooth it into a round loaf shape.
  10. Place onto the lined baking tray, cover with a tea towel or lightly oiled cling film and leave to prove again until it’s doubled in size. This will take about an hour, but may be quicker or slower depending on how warm your kitchen is.
  11. Preheat the oven to 220°C (200°C fan assisted)/425°F/gas mark 7. Put an old, empty roasting tin into the bottom of the oven.
  12. Stage three: After an hour the loaf should have risen again. Sprinkle some flour on top and very gently rub it in. Use a large, sharp knife to make shallow cuts about 1cm deep across the top of the loaf to create a diamond pattern.
  13. Put the loaf on the baking tray into the middle of the oven. Pour cold water into the empty roasting tray at the bottom of the oven just before you shut the door - this creates steam which helps the loaf develop a crisp and shiny crust.
  14. Bake the loaf for about 30 mins.
  15. The loaf is cooked when it's risen and golden. To check, take it out of the oven and tap it gently underneath - it should sound hollow. Turn onto a wire rack to cool.
You can see Paul demonstrating this recipe and the key techniques at

This recipe features in episode three of The Great British Bake Off, a 6-part series on BBC2, on at 8pm each Tuesday, from 17th August 2010.

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help..I was about to make this when i noticed that there is no sugar in the recipe. I thought sugar had to be added to enable the yeast to "grow" is this not the case?


I just made a first time loaf and it was spot on! beautiful colour and taste, overall a good bake! One comment I would make would be 2 tsp of salt had left the loaf a tiny bit salty so next time I think i'll be using 1.5 tsp! Apart from that, spot on!!

Jackie and Grace

My lovely ten year old Grace came to stay with me this weekend and having seen cob bread baked on TV, wanted to try and make it herself. She made it all by herself and it looked super and tasted so nice. We actually didn't have time to do the second stage of proving but it still turned out great! Such a simple recipe - my niece is now making another loaf having remembered how to do it. IF YOU'VE NEVER TRIED MAKING BREAD TRY THIS AND IF YOU'VE MADE BREAD LOTS OF TIMES BEFORE TRY THIS TOO!!

Alison MacKenzie

I am a beginner as far as breadmaking is concerned. However I was very pleased with the result after making the cob loaf. It was well risen, had good texture and tasted absolutley wonderful. Much better than anything shop bought. Thank you so much for a great recipe. I will continue to use this receipe.


just made this loaf after watching the show last night and must say its the best ive ever made, even better than when i made it in the machine.YOU MUST MAKE THIS BREAD.

Darren Jones

I personally enjoy a lot of Paul's recipes and the beauty about them is you can adjust them to your needs Like all things cooking is a art and you have to get things how you want it as that is an important expression of your self and your love for the item you are making

Gill morgan

Help. I've got confused with stage 11 and 12 - does the bread go into the oven for an hour and then another 30 mins after flouring/scoring?? Or does it stay out of the oven while it's heating up??


Agreed it's way too salty

Stuart Marriott

Mine turned out really well. If you search for Paul's recipe on google, you'll fine a video of him making this, which I found helpful.


Made to go with a casserole- absolutely delicious! Very easy to follow, although it over proved first time and when I came to knock it down it needed another 7-8 minutes of kneeding to stop it being sticky. Tasted wonderful!


U have not kneaded it properly, Kneading does take around 7 mins to 10mins each time..


Great recipe, my first couple of loafs were a little dense despite unsalted butter (for my liking) but tasted great. Will score first then let it proof the longest in the plastic bag before I cook. Hopefully this time there be more fluff! :)


It looks great - well done!


I've never made bread before and this was very easy to follow and it turned out really well. Nice crust and very soft. I also didn't have bread flour but I just used plain flour.


It came out looking great but it's inedible because of the salt. Will try it again with half the amount of salt.


Ok well here is my offering ,I followed the recipe with care because of the nature of the comments, my only addition was a teaspoon of sugar for the yeast. With the warm climate here in Thailand we had a good rise on the dough in 30 minutes then cooked in this fan assisted oven. Superp taste and well worth the effort. Thanks for the recipe.


Great recipe, easy & got some very nice bread. Thanks!


When i take it out of the oven the loaf has a great crust and that hollow sound when tapped. As it cools the crust goes soft and shrinks. Still tastes great though


Why does the loaf never rise at the second proving. First time it rises perfectly, then having knocked it, it stays down, Wrong yeast ?


Score it before the second prove, not just before you put it in the oven! Only 1 teaspoon of salt required, and allow the yeast to start its work in the water (with a pinch of sugar) for 10 mins before you add it to the flour.

Adrian Edgar

Why does it always drop when I score with a knife? Looked a perfect rise until then.

Gillian Wrightson

I have just made the bread having seen it on GBBO. I have just taken it out of the oven. Looks good but not great. I was also surprised that there was no sugar. Anyone got any clues about that. When it cools I'll cut and see how it turns out,


I was amazed at how well this turned out. My bread usually turns out heavy, but this was as light and fluffy as shop bought fresh bread. The tip on kneading quickly to avoid sticky hands and oiling the worksurface are probably the main things that helped me as the inconvenience of kneading is what puts me off. As others have said, it is a salty dough, i will reduce to 1 tsp of salt next time (i noticed Paul saying on TGBBO that some contestants needed more salt, maybe he just likes a salty loaf) Next time i will try forming into rolls rather than one big cob.

Mark W

If you intend to knock back, why use fast-action yeast in the first place? The whole point of it (the real "fast action") is that it doesn't need to be knocked back. In fact, I find it no faster in rising than ordinary dry yeast - it's just that you only need to rise once.


If you are going to cheat and mix this bread dough in a machine reduce the water to about 275g or it ends up much too wet. Very nice bread.


I've baked this loaf twice now. The first time was the first time I'd ever baked bread, the result was OK, but I needed to use all the stated water and knead it more than I did. It was also too salty (and I like a lot of salt). The second time I baked it I used unsalted butter and the lessons learned the result was so much better, a good taste and texture, I even go it to look like Ed's, although still a little salty, next time I'll used unsalted butter and 1 1/2 tps salt and see how that comes out. I'm also off to buy a 2lb loaf tin to see if it makes a decent sandwich loaf.


This is the first time I have baked bread. I thought I'd give it a go after seeing them make it on the show, as it is a simple recipe with no need for a machine or bread tin. Was massively surprised at how it turned out, pretty much perfect! Don't like to blow my own trumpet but the taste, consistency and overall look of it was spot on and I will definitely be making this again!

Lisa Janes

Was inspired to make this loaf after watching Britains bake off show. I have to say i did enjoy the kneading part as it took all my frustrations away now ive just packed up smoking!! It has just come out of oven and looks pretty good. Will wait till Hubby comes home before we try it. will let you know if its a as good in the inside as it looks on the outside. Like the saying goes you cant judge a book by its cover!!!!

Margaret Wilde

I'd use much less salt. One of the benefits of making your own bread is that you don't have to have bread as highly salted as shop-bought bread.


One of the easiest and tastiest loaves I have made

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