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Sundried Tomato and Pesto Crusty Cob
A family sized cob cooked in a Cast Iron Casserole, which creates a faster rise and a crusty bake. This tasty loaf with Mediterranean flavours can be made into sandwiches, served with summer soups and braises or torn into chunks as part of a mezze platter.
Le Creuset Cast Iron 24cm Signature Round Casserole
- 600g (1lb 5oz) strong flour + extra for mixing if required and dusting
- 1 ½ teaspoons salt
- 350ml (12fl oz) warm water
- ½ teaspoon white sugar
- 2 teaspoons of dried yeast
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 4 tablespoons pesto
- 100g (3½ oz) sundried tomatoes - drained and chopped
- 2 tablespoon light olive oil for kneading and greasing the casserole
- 2 - 3 tablespoons of semolina flour for dusting
- 1 baking tray and water
- Set the oven to the lowest heat setting; 50 - 70°C, below Gas Mark ¼, place in the empty casserole with the lid and leave to warm.
- Sieve the flour with the salt into a mixing bowl.
- Measure 350ml (12fl oz) of warm water into a jug, stir in the sugar, salt and the yeast. Leave for 5 minutes to allow the yeast to activate and the mixture to become frothy.
- Make a well in the centre of the flour, add the pepper, pesto, sundried tomatoes and pour in the frothy liquid. Combine the ingredients together bringing all the flour away from the edges of the bowl to make a soft but not sticky dough, add a little extra flour if needed.
- Lightly grease the work surface and your hands with some of the olive oil and turn out the dough. Knead the dough using the heel of your hand, folding and turning for 5 - 6 minutes until it becomes elastic.
- Remove the warmed casserole and lid from the oven; oil the inside of the base lightly with some of the olive oil. Place in the dough, put on the warmed lid and leave for 30 - 40 minutes or until the dough has doubled in size.
- Dust a clean work surface and your hands with some of the extra flour and turn out the risen dough.
- Place the casserole and lid back into the oven to re-warm.
- Knock the air out of the dough by kneading a few times and shape the dough into a round loaf shape.
- Remove the warmed casserole from the oven and dust the interior liberally with the semolina flour.
- Place in the shaped dough into the casserole and press gently flat to fit the base. Place on the lid and leave to rise for a second time for 30 - 40 minutes or until it has doubled in size.
- Half way through the rising time increase the oven temperature to: 220°C / Fan 200°C / 425°F / Gas Mark 7.
- Place a baking tray onto the lowest oven shelf and fill with water.
- Once the dough has doubled in size remove the casserole lid, dust the top of the dough with some more semolina flour and make cuts into the surface to create a diamond pattern.
- Place the casserole into the oven without the lid and bake for 35 - 40 minutes until well risen and golden in colour.
- Once cooked tip the loaf out of the casserole onto a wire rack to cool.
- The mixing and kneading of the dough can be done in a suitable electric mixer with a dough hook fitting, following the manufacturer’s instructions.
- Getting to know your oven is key to successful baking. It is worth making a small investment in a simple oven thermometer, which can be placed on the baking shelf.
- Semolina flour can be substituted for polenta flour.