1. The recipe here is adapted from Doris Grant's famous loaf in her book Your Daily Bread, for which I continue to give thanks. It is a quick and easy version which does not need kneading and which rises obligingly quickly. My favourite flour to use is 100 per cent organic wholemeal flour – but, if you want a lighter loaf, you can use half wholemeal and half malted grain flour. To make one large, or two small loaves, you will need 1 lb 4 oz (570 g) of flour. Whichever flour you use, it should be at room temperature or even slightly warmer to speed things up. If your flour feels chilly, warm it in a low oven for 10 minutes (and if the bowl it's in gets too hot, tip it into another). Sprinkle in 2 teaspoons of salt, 1 teaspoon of soft light brown sugar and 2 teaspoons of easy-blend dried yeast and mix thoroughly.
2. Make a well in the centre of the mixture, pour in 14 fl oz (400 ml) of hand-hot water (ie you can place your little finger in the water for a few seconds without it hurting. I find a mixture of half boiling and half cold water gives the right temperature). Take a wooden spoon and begin to mix the liquid into the flour gradually to form a dough. Bear in mind that the exact amount of water you will need depends on the flour, so one rule is: add enough to make a dough that leaves the bowl clean – and remember, better too much water than not enough, so don't worry if the dough seems a bit wet.
3. On a flat surface, stretch the dough out to an oblong, then fold one edge into the centre and the other edge over that. Yes, it's true: there's no need to knead. You can save your energy, and this is, in essence, what makes the whole thing so easy.
4. Fit the folded dough into well-buttered tin(s), pressing firmly all round the edges so that the surface is slightly rounded – you will need two 1 lb (450 g) loaf tins or one 2 lb (900 g) loaf tin. Sprinkle the surface of the dough with flour, then cover with a damp tea cloth and leave to rise. Let's say something magical occurs, and the mixture (which started out being a heavy lump of dough), if given the correct amount of time, will stretch and expand to twice its original volume. This process can be speeded up if the dough is put in a warm place, but the longer you leave it to rise naturally at room temperature, the better the bread. I now prefer to just leave it to rise naturally. One point though: bread will also rise at a cold temperature, so if it's more convenient, pop it in the lowest part of the fridge and let it rise overnight, ready to bake in the morning.
5. Meanwhile, pre-heat the oven to gas mark 6, 400°F (200°C). When the dough has risen to the top of the bread tin or tins, bake it for 40 minutes for the 2 lb (900 g) size or 30 minutes for the 1 lb (450 g) size. When the loaf is baked, turn it out on to a cloth. You can tell if the loaf is ready, as it should sound hollow when you tap it with your knuckles. Then if you put it back into the oven upside down for 10 minutes you can ensure that the crust will be crispy all over.
6. Allow to cool on a cooling rack, which allows the air to circulate and ensures the bread stays crisp and crunchy. It does freeze, but make sure it is absolutely cold before you put it in the freezer, wrapped tightly in a freezer bag.