Although I'm embarrassed to even own a cookbook by this title, it really is a fantastic baking cookbook. As requested by Ashley, here are basic instructions for a very basic loaf of white bread. I've borrowed heavily from Nigella, but most of the more, er... technical... terms are my own. :)
Total Ingredient list:
~3.5 C white bread flour
1 tbsp/package yeast
1 tbsp salt
~ 1 1/3 C warm water (NOT hot... if it feels hot to your hand it will probably kill the yeast, and then you'll have, essentially, matzah. Which is fine if you like unleavened bread, but probably not what you're going for here).
Put the following in a bowl:
3.5 Cups white bread flour
1 package yeast OR 1 tbsp yeast (rapid rise is nice, but the other is cheaper so I usually use the standard stuff Costco sells).
1 tbsp salt
3/4 C water
Mix until it's a homogenous mess. You may have to add additional water.
Add 1 tbsp melted butter (oil will also work)
Start kneeding... I use a stand mixer, but if you don't have one basically mix in as much flour as you need to keep it from completely sticking to your hands, then start working the dough with your hands. I generally hit the bread dough with the heel of my hand, squoosh it down, then pick up the dough, turn it on its side and do the same thing. This should take roughly ten minutes if you're doing it by hand. My sister swears this is very therapeutic. :) If the bread is sticky wet add a little more flour. If it's so dry that it's not staying together, add water. As you can tell it's not a super exact science. You'll know that you're done kneeding when the dough looks smoother and more elastic-y.
Through the dough into an oiled bowl. Cover top of the bowl and stick it somewhere warm for an hour or two. It should double in size during this first rise. Note: This is also the time when you can stick it in the fridge overnight if you want to actually bake it the next day.
Punch down the dough. (Yes, literally). You want to deflate it, basically. Then form it into a roughly bread-shaped ball, and plop it into a greased 9x5" bread pan (this is just the standard size bread pan. I've had great luck with ceramic ones, but they can be pricey. Glass works ok. The aluminum non-stick ones can be ok, but I've had problems with their burning the bottom of the bread).
Cover loosly and leave until doubled again. Stick it in a preheated 425F oven for approximately 35 minutes. The loaf should be slightly browned all over and have a hollow sound if you knock the bottom gently with your knuckles (if it doesn't sound hollow, stick it on a cookie sheet and throw it back in the oven for a few minutes). Turn out of pan and cool on a cooling rack (if you don't do this the bottom can get pretty soggy).