Try this simple step-by-step method for a delicious homemade loaf.
Tip the flour into a mixing bowl. For easy-blend dried yeast, stir this into the flour. For fresh yeast, crumble it and rub into the flour as you would with butter when making pastry. Add the salt and sugar.
Boil the kettle and measure 100ml into a jug. Top up with cold water to the 300ml mark. Test the temperature with your finger – it should feel perfectly hand-hot. Add the oil.
Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients and pour in the liquid all at once. Mix quickly using your hands or a wooden fork to make a soft and slightly sticky dough. Wipe the dough around the bowl to pick up any loose flour.
Sprinkle the work surface with flour and tip out the dough. Knead by stretching it away from you, then folding it in half towards you and pushing it away with the heel of your hand. Give it a quarter turn and repeat, developing a rhythm.
When the dough is smooth, put it back into the mixing bowl, cover with a tea towel and leave to rest for 1 hr (no need to find a warm place). The dough is ready when it springs back when you press it with your finger. (At this stage, you can add other flavourings - see 'Goes well with', right).
Tip dough onto a floured surface, knead to remove air bubbles. Shape into a round, place on an oiled baking sheet and slash top with sharp knife. Cover and rise for 30 mins. Heat oven to 240C/220C fan/gas 8. Bake for 30-35 mins until browned and crisp.
Credit: Mary Cadogan
Prep time: 10 Minutes
Cook time: 35 Minutes (Plus Rising)
7g sachet easy-blend yeast or 15g fresh yeast
500g strong white bread flour, plus extra for dusting
2 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
2 tbsp olive oil