I've used this recipe with a reasonable amount of success over the past month or so. It's dead easy to make and tastes great. It's also pretty cheap. Once you have all the ingredients in stock, you're looking at about 50p per loaf.
You will need:
- 650 g (1lb 7oz) of strong white bread flour
- 2 teaspoons of salt (reduce if you like)
- 1 teaspoon of sugar
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil of choice (or butter)
- 2 teaspoons Easy Bake Yeast (or one of the little 7g - sachets of yeast from Tesco)
- 400 ml (14 fl oz) of warm water (1 part boiling 2 parts cold)
First, mix your flour, salt and sugar in a bowl, finally adding the yeast and vegetable oil. Mix together thoroughly. Make a well in the middle of your mixture and pour some of your water in it. Now fold your flour into the well, stirring constantly. Continue to add the rest of your water until you have a thick unwieldy but pliable mixture which is slightly sticky. The mixture shouldn't stick to the sides of the bowl, but should pick up the remaining flour in the bowl as you are stirring.
Now the fun bit. First, flour your hands and also sprinkle some on the work surface.
Slap the dough down on it and knead it for ten minutes. This is the most important step in the whole process and the end result will reflect how well this has been done. Kneading takes a bit of practice but the basic premise is to compress and fold the mixture. Don't be afraid to put your whole weight into it.
Now it's time to let the yeast do its work. Place it back into your mixing bowl and cover with cling-film (or a tea towel). Leave for 30 minutes to an hour, or until the mixture has roughly doubled in size. This works best in a warm room.
Now tip it out of the bowl and back onto your floured surface. It might stick a bit - don't worry. Now, knead it again for another 5 to 10 minutes. We are trying to knock all of the air from the mixture which has been created from the reaction of the yeast. Your dough should feel different now. It's hard to explain - but it will.
Now, grease the sides of a small loaf tin. Shape your mixture and place it gently into the tin. Cover with cling-film and leave to prove for a second time for 30 minutes to an hour. This second proving is important. This will give the dough the air which will be in the final product. Again, it should double in size.
Cook for about 45 minutes at 220°c. When the loaf is cooked, remove from the tin and allow to cool completely. It's pretty hard to resist chopping a slice off when it's warm though!
Because the bread is not loaded with preservatives and additives like store bought bread is, it doesn't last very long. After a couple of days it gets pretty stale, although it's great for toast for a few days longer.