Sieve 450g/1lb of strong white flour into a large bowl then add 25g/1oz of butter and rub it in with your fingertips. Now add a good pinch of salt, 1 tsp of sugar and 2 tsp fast action yeast and stir everything together.
Make a well in the centre then pour in 300ml/1/2 pint of lukewarm water, and stir together with a wooden spoon. Then use your hands to bring the dough together. It will be very sticky at this point so add a little extra flour as needed.
Now turn the dough out onto a floured surface and begin to knead for about 10 minutes; put the heel of your hand on the dough and push away from you then turn the dough over and pull it back to you. You will soon develop a rhythm. The dough should become smooth and silky.
Sit the dough in a clean, lightly oiled large bowl. Cover with cling film and put it somewhere warm for it to rise for about 1 hour. It should double in size.
Now knock back the dough, this means to knead the dough again for a couple of minutes. This is so the yeast is distributed evenly in the dough. Shape the dough to fit a 2 lb loaf tin then grease and lightly flour the tin and put the dough seam side down into it. Loosely cover with lightly oiled cling film and leave it to prove somewhere warm for 30 minutes or until it has doubled in size.
You can slash the loaf if you wish and dust with flour. Put it in a pre-heated oven at gas mark 8/230C (220C in a fan oven) on the middle shelf and bake for about 30-35 minutes. Remove bread from the tin and leave to cool on a wire rack.
- If kneading seems like too much hard work add the mixture at step 2 to a food mixer and mix with the dough hook for about 5-10 minutes until it wraps its self around the hook.
- To test whether the bread is cooked, it should sound hollow when tapped. If you prefer the bottom of the bread to be crisp, once removed from the tin put it back in the oven for a further 5 minutes.