I picked up this very simple white bread recipe when I was working with Bryn Williams on his book Bryn’s Kitchen: 5 Brilliant Ways to cook 20 Great Ingredients. He in turn picked up from Alwyn Thomas, the master baker he worked for as a teenager in North Wales.
Bryn still uses it to this day to make the rolls for Odette’s. I think it makes a terrific simple loaf, and have adapted the recipe accordingly.
450g (1 lb) strong white bread flour
250ml (8½ fl.oz) lukewarm water
1 7g (¼ oz) sachet easy blend dried yeast
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons sugar
2 teaspoons olive oil
In a large bowl, mix together the flour, yeast, salt and sugar. Then add the oil. Mix everything together, and make a well in the middle of it. Then pour in the water. Gently work the flour into the water with your fingers, until you have a smooth dough. Turn it out onto a well-floured work-surface and knead it for a good 5–10 minutes, until it’s smooth, silky and elastic.
Put the dough back into a clean bowl, cover with a damp cloth and leave to rise in a warm place for 30–40 minutes. Longer if necessary. You’re in charge: don’t let the bread dictate your schedule at this point. If you have something else to do for a while, it’ll wait for you.
When the dough has doubled in size, punch the dough down into the bowl. Turn it back out onto a floured work-surface and kneed it for another couple of minutes or so. Shape it into a loaf, and place it on a floured baking tray. Cover it once again with the tea towel, and leave it to stand for another 15 minutes, while you preheat the oven to 180˚C, 350°F, gas mark 4.
Then bake the loaf for about 35 minutes. You can test it’s done by knocking hard on its base. It should sound hollow. Leave to cool on a wire rack, and use it up while it’s fresh.