Guest chef

James Morton

James first wowed us as a contestant on the Great British Bake Off with his bread-baking and gingerbread architecture skills. His book, Brilliant Bread (Ebury Press, £20) is full of delicious and foolproof recipes.

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Basic white bread

  • Makes 1 large loaf
  • Prep 15 mins
  • Total time 3 1/2 hrs
3.7/5 rating (17 votes)
Basic white bread
Basic white bread

step by step

  • 1In a large bowl, weigh the flour. Rub in the salt at one edge of the bowl and the yeast on the other side, as the salt can stop the yeast working.
  • 2Add 350ml tepid water and mix together to form a coherent dough (use your dough to mop up any flour sticking to the bowl). Cover your bowl with a damp tea towel or clingfilm and rest in a warm place for 30-40 minutes, or until it has noticeably increased in size.
  • If you're used to making bread, you might find this a bit wetter than your average bread recipe. Remember, wetter is better. Have a play when you're shaping the dough, roll it, stretch it and bash it around – you'll come to know what a developed dough feels like, so you'll know when it's ready.
    James Morton
  • 3Wet the fingertips of one hand and slide between the bowl and dough. Fold the dough in half. Turn the bowl 90°; repeat until you have removed all of the air and it's noticeably smooth. Cover and rest for an hour, or until at least doubled in size.
  • 4Scrape the dough on to a floured surface, flour your hands and shape into a ball.
  • 5Place the dough on a heavily floured surface (like a chopping board), loosely cover and leave it for a final hour, or until it has doubled in size and springs back when pushed. (I like to use a proving basket, which makes a lovely spiral pattern on the top of the loaf.) Preheat the oven to 220°C, fan 200°C, gas 7, at least 20 minutes in advance.
  • 6Give your bread a few shallow slashes with a serrated knife. Bake on a lightly oiled baking tray on a low-to-middle shelf for 35-40 minutes, until a deep golden brown – don't be scared to let it get a good dark crust. If your oven cooks unevenly, turn the loaf so it browns all over.
  • For baking and bread making, use digital scales for accuracy when weighing ingredients.
  • Recipe photograph by Andy Sewell

Get ahead

Best eaten on the day it's baked. Can be frozen

You will need

  • 500g strong white flour
  • 10g table salt
  • 1 x 7g sachet fast-action dried yeast

+ Nutritional Information