First off I recommend using bread flour. You can use all-purpose flour, however I have had more bread failures with that then I do bread flour. You can mix all-purpose with bread flour too if you want, or with whole wheat if you like. Half bread, half all-purpose wheat turns out nicely. For this, I'll use plain unbleached white. I also purchase yeast in a jar. It's more cost effective, and of course I keep the jars when I'm done to store other things in.
First step is to measure out your yeast, if your using jar yeast you need to let it come to room temperature. If your using packet yeast, be aware that the yeast in that packet can die, so don't buy too much at once. If you refrigerate your packet yeast, don't forget to let it come to room temperature before you use it. Want to know more about yeast? Read here.
While the yeast is coming to room temperature, I measure out the dry ingredients and put them together in a bowl. I use organic sugar, and sea salt along with my flour. I'll post my entire recipe below.
In my bread machine, I add hot water, and oil first. Followed by my dry ingredients.
Finally I add in the yeast, and I'm ready to go. My particular bread machine takes three hours to cook, so I started it early in the afternoon so we can have fresh bread for dinner. Left over chicken from Friday's chicken will become chicken salad very shortly, along with home made french fries from the bag of potatoes. I have a home cooked meal that hasn't cost me any extra because the ingredients were already in my home.
Basic Bread Machine Recipe:
What to do if your bread fails. Why did your bread fail? Yeast is the issue. Sometimes adding more salt to your recipe will help your bread, and if your yeast is old, that will be a doomed loaf too. There's not much you can do to save your loaf of bread but..don't toss it out. There are things you can still use it for.
1. Bread crumbs. Stick it in your food processor and grind it up (if it's a solid brick, make sure it's a heavy duty processor). Keep said bread crumbs in the freezer to use on an as needed basis. Remember store bought bread crumbs probably have some preservatives in it, and yours don't. If you don't freeze them, they'll mold.
2. Croutons for your salad. Cut them up in bight size pieces, drizzle them in olive oil and herbs and toast them in your oven. Yum!!
3. Wintertime? Chop some up and feed it to the birds.
Whatever you do, don't throw it away! :) Enjoy.