In a small bowl take the instant yeast or dry active yeast and sugar. Add lukewarm water.
Mix well and set aside until the yeast activates. For instant yeast keep for 5 minutes and for dry active yeast keep for 10 to 15 minutes.
While the proofing is happening, sieve or mix the flour with salt.
Add the oil and the frothy yeast mixture to the flour.
With a wooden spoon mix everything.
Now use your hands and knead the dough for about 8 to 10 minutes. The dough has to be smooth, soft and light.
If the dough looks sticky, then add a few tablespoons of flour and knead. If the dough looks dry or floury, add a few tablespoons of lukewarm water and continue to knead.
Keep in a large bowl and cover loosely with kitchen napkin.
Set aside until the dough doubles up.
For instant yeast – leaven dough for 45 mins to 1 hour. For dry active yeast or fresh yeast – keep for 1.5 to 2 hours.
If needed set aside for some more minutes until the dough has doubled up nicely.
Shaping into a loaf
Grease or brush a loaf pan with oil.
Take the dough on a lightly floured surface and gently knead. This will deflate the dough.
Flatten the dough with your fingers to a round or square shape. Then begin to roll it neatly.
The place where the edges meet, join them first. Then press, flatten and smoothen them with your fingers. Smoothen the sides of the loaf as well.
Place in the loaf pan with the seamed joined edges touching the bottom of the pan.
Cover again loosely with the kitchen napkin and let it rise again for until fully doubled.
If you have used instant yeast – leaven for 20 to 30 minutes. For dry active yeast or fresh yeast – set aside for 45 minutes to 1 hour.
Preheat the oven to 190 degrees Celsius (375 degrees Fahrenheit) for 20 minutes prior to baking.
With a small serrated knife or any sharp knife or a lame, make one or two long slashes lengthwise on the center of the dough about ¼ inch deep.
Brush the surface with some milk – dairy or vegan. This is an optional step.
Place the loaf pan in the oven. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes at 190 degrees Celsius (375 degrees Fahrenheit) until you see a golden crust.
If your oven browns the surface very quickly, place a parchment paper or aluminium foil on the top of the loaf halfway through the baking – so as to avoid more browning.
Wait for 3 to 4 minutes after the bread is out of the oven. Tap the bread and it should sound hollow – which means that the bread is baked well. If the bread does not sound hollow, keep it back in the oven to bake for some more minutes.
Transfer the loaf from the pan immediately and keep it on a wired rack. If you keep it inside the pan, the bottom gets soggy. Let the loaf cool at room temperature on the wired rack or tray.
Now enjoy your homemade bread with your favorite curry or soup or just making one of your favorite sandwiches or toast.
Place the bread in a bread box or a covered box and refrigerate for a week. Or you can freeze it for a couple of months. Allow the bread to defrost in the refrigerator overnight before serving.
Variations: You can divide the dough into parts and make dinner rolls. Add some herbs (fresh or dried) to make a fragrant herb bread. Replace water with milk (dairy or vegan) for a milk bread. Include some more sugar or nuts, berries, dry fruits for a sweet bread.
Kneading: You can knead the dough with hands as I have done. If you have a food processor or a stand mixer, then knead the dough in these.
Baking: Since on two ovens are the same, it can take less or more time for the bread to bake in your oven. If the top surface of the bread browns quickly then place an aluminum foil or parchment paper on the top. This will avoid further browning while baking.
Yeast conversion: Make this bread recipe easily with any kind of baking yeast that you have. Follow this yeast conversion: 1 teaspoon instant yeast = 1.5 teaspoon active dry yeast = 1 tablespoon fresh yeast.
Scaling: You can halve or double the recipe and make a small or large batch of homemade bread.