Bizarre, because I have never screwed up bread. Except the time I wondered if I could use rock salt instead of table salt. (Logical - sea salt works fine). And the time it wouldn't rise because the hot water tank wasn't on.
But that's it.
I wonder why. I think it's the epitome of 'I'm properly a baker' (sssh, don't mention pastry), and it's relatively frugal. And it tastes so much better than store-bought.
I started making it when I got fed up with either paying 75p for white polysterene to carry Marmite, or 1.45 for something that tasted decent.
I initially used the Joy of Cooking recipe, and like all Joy recipes, it works, but boy does it take a long time to get there. So I switched to one from Allison's, which they've helpfully now converted for a breadmaker, so I can't link to it.
I don't see the point in breadmakers. I can make bread in 12 mins, plus rising. I wouldn't be at all surprised if I could make it in my sleep.
Shall I cut to the chase?
The recipe. This makes two loaves.
900g white bread flour
41/2tsp yeast (proper active dry stuff in a tin)
180ml sunflower oil
450ml warm water (not hot, not cold)
Mix. I usually use a spoon because it's messy, but I have been known to use my fingers, in a move that's totally unrelated to all the spoons being dirty.
Turn out on to floured surface. Knead for ten minutes. I love this. Not just because, like everyone says, it's good for getting out stress, but because you get to feel the different textures changing underneath your hands. Eventually, you get to learn the stages, and when it's ready and so on. Like being a proper baker.
Roll out. Split in two (I just run a knife across the middle). Roll each one up into a Swiss roll shape.
Two important things I learnt from the Joy: the seam goes at the bottom, and both ends should touch the pan, to support the rise.
Lob in the airing cupboard with a tea-towel over the top.
Two hours in summer, four in winter. Till the dough is doubled.
Oven at 200C, down to 180 just before it goes in. Thirty to thirty-five minutes.
And the smell! Maybe it's the smell...
ETA: And possibly the time I put them too low down in the oven...