Start with this basic recipe and then adapt as your experience and confidence grows…
500 grams/ 16 oz strong white flour
1.5 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon sugar
2 teaspoons (7 grams) easy bake yeast
15 grams soft butter/spread or 15 mils of vegetable oil
300 millilitres of warm water (200 of cold & 100 of hot)
Stir the salt into the flour and then stir in the sugar and yeast. Rub in the butter (it won’t go into breadcrumbs like pastry so don’t over work it) or add the oil to the water and then make a well in the middle and pour in the water.
Mix the water in the flour mix with a knife or with a hand beater with dough hooks attached.
Mix it until it looks a bit “raggy” and leave for about 10 minutes. This gives the water a chance to soak into the flour. Turn out on to a lightly floured surface and knead for between 5 and 8 minutes. Do it to a medium paced piece of music and you’ll get a lovely rhythm going.
When the dough is smooth and elastic put it in a lightly oiled bowl, cover with lightly oiled cling film & place it somewhere warm for 45 – 60 minutes. It will at least double in size in that time.
Turn out on to a lightly floured surface and knock back by pushing your fingers into it so that it collapses back to the original size. Some people prefer to go for a thorough knead at this point and I think this is down to personal experience. I change between the two a lot! Shape to go into a 2lb loaf tin – don’t fuss too much about the shape, length etc. as it expands and then cover with lightly oiled cling film & leave in the warm place for 45 – 60 minutes. Again, it will at least double in size.
Preheat the oven to 230 C/gas mark 8 and bake for 15 minutes then turn down the heat to 200 C/gas mark 6 and bake for a further 15 minutes. The loaf will sound hollow when rapped with knuckles on the underside if it cooked.
Cool on a wire tray and then indulge yourself!