Place the yeast and caster sugar in a bowl with 290ml warm (not hot) water. Let sit for 5-10 minutes, until it begins to foam.
Sift the flour into a large bowl and stir in the salt, making sure it is evenly distributed. Create a well and then gently pour in the liquid. Bring together to form a dough. If the dough is a little dry at this point, add a little more water and make sure it is fully combined. Dust the work surface with a little flour and knead the dough for 15-20 minutes until smooth and stretchy.
Shape the dough into a round or oval then place on a baking tray dusted with a little flour. Cover with oiled cling film and leave to rise in a warm place for 1 hour, until the dough has doubled in size. Preheat the oven to 230°C, fan 210°C, gas 8.
Remove the cling film, dust the top of the loaf with a little flour (optional) and bake for 20 minutes. Then check every 1-2 minutes until risen and golden. Transfer to a cooling rack and tap the base of the bread to check it is cooked – it should sound hollow. The loaf is best enjoyed warm from the oven.
Cook’s tip: plain flour requires more kneading than strong bread flour in order to form the gluten that gives the dough its elasticity – so don’t give up!