Nothing beats the smell of freshly baked bread coming out of the oven, or slicing it to the exact thickness you require, not what (insert big bread company name here) thinks you should have. Like everything else made at home there's no unpronounceable ingredients, no chemicals added to make it last for weeks on a shelf, no plastic bag. Just you, a warm kitchen, and a little bit of love.
Makes 1 large loaf.
450g strong white flour, plus extra for dusting
Good pinch of salt
7g sachet dried yeast
1tbsp vegetable oil, plus extra for greasing
300ml warm water
- Mix the flour, salt and yeast together in a large bowl. Make a well in the centre and add the oil and water, stirring well together to make a soft dough.
- Now, you can either turn the dough out and knead it by hand on a floured surface for about 10 minutes, or use an electric mixer with dough hooks attached for about 5 minutes. I used to always do it by hand until I actually tried the dough hooks, now I'm converted!
- Return the dough to the bowl (or leave it there if you used the hooks!) and cover with clingfilm. Pop it somewhere nice and warm (like an airing cupboard) for an hour so the dough can rise. It should just about double in size.
- Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and gently knead for 30 seconds or so, this is called 'knocking back'. It should be lovely and smooth at this point.
- Shape the dough into a large rectangle, the length of the baking tin and three times the width. Grease the tin well and fold the dough over itself three times lengthways. Pop it into the baking tin with the join underneath (it gives it a better appearance once baked). Cover in clingfilm again and leave to rise for another 30 minutes in a warm place once more.
- Preheat the oven to 220C/425F/Gas Mark 7. Bake the loaf in the centre of the oven for 25 - 30 minutes, or until golden brown. Turn out the loaf and tap the bottom, if it sounds hollow then you'll know it's cooked. Cool on a wire rack for at least half an hour before slicing. As delicious as warm bread is, it's so much harder to slice properly, and I've butchered many loaves with my impatience to get eating!
*This loaf should keep for 3 or 4 days in an airtight container.