This simple loaf is a great introduction to bread making. You can halve the quantities to make one loaf if you prefer, though making two loaves is more time-efficient as you can freeze one for later.
310 ml (10¾ fl oz/1¼ cups) lukewarm water
Large pinch of caster (superfine) sugar
9 g (¼ oz/2½ teaspoons) dried yeast
60 g (2¼ oz) butter, melted
250 ml (9 fl oz/1 cup) milk, warmed
900 g (2 lb/6 cups) plain (all-purpose) flour
2 teaspoons salt
1. Combine 125 ml (4 fl oz/½ cup) of the water and the sugar in a large bowl. Sprinkle over the yeast and set aside for 5-6 minutes or until foamy.
2. Add the butter, milk, remaining water, half the flour and the salt and use a wooden spoon to mix well. Add the remaining flour, 150 g (5½ oz/1 cup) at a time, stirring until a coarse dough forms. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead for 8-10 minutes or until it feels smooth, elastic and fairly soft, adding a little extra flour if it is too sticky.
3. Put the dough in a lightly oiled, large bowl, turning to coat in the oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and set aside in a warm, draught-free place for 1½ hours or until the dough has doubled in size.
4. Preheat the oven to 200°C (400°F/Gas 6). Lightly grease two 8 x 17.5 cm (3¼ x 6¾ inch) loaf (bar) tins.
5. Knock back the dough with just one punch to expel the air. Turn out onto a lightly floured work surface and use a large sharp knife to cut in half. Working with one portion at a time, use your hands to pat the dough out into a rough rectangle, about 1.5 cm ( 5/8 inch) thick. Roll each rectangle up, like a Swiss roll (jelly roll), and place in the greased tins, seam side down, pushing them in to fit. Cover with a damp tea towel (dish towel) and set aside in a warm, draught-free place for 45 minutes or until the dough has risen just above the edge of each tin.
6. Use a sharp serrated knife or razor blade to make 3-4 diagonal slashes in the top of each loaf, taking care not to deflate the dough. Bake for 10 minutes, then reduce the heat to 180°C (350°F/Gas 4) and bake for 30 minutes more or until the loaves are deep golden and sound hollow when tapped on the base. Turn out onto a wire rack to cool.