Right, here goes. I assume when you say 'by hand' you mean using your own elbow-grease, not one of those wretched breadmaker machine thingy's...
We use a fairly bog-standard strong wholemeal and it seems to come out all right. Now and then I mix in 25% rye but that makes it more difficult to get a good rise (and I've never succeeded at sourdough recipes), so forget that for the time being, stick to wheat. Waitrose 'very strong Canadian wholemeal' seems to work a treat for us. And for the yeast, again we just use standard supermarket stuff, 'fast action dried yeast', which comes in 6g sachets joined together in pairs.
This makes 4 x 800g loaves which is the right amount to bake at one time in a standard oven. If you don't want to eat all at once they will go in the freezer.
2 Kg strong wholemeal flour.
1.14 litres (2 pints) warm water - consisting of 1 pint boiling mixed with 1 pint cold.
4 tsp salt.
12 g dried yeast (2 sachets)
80 ml vegetable oil.
Mix the flour, salt and yeast, dry, in a large heavy bowl. We have a 30cm earthenware bowl which suits fine. Pour on the water and oil and start to mix vigorously in the bowl, first with a spoon, then with your hands (remove jewellery!). Start the kneading action, first in the bowl then turned out on the worktop, which consists of repeatedly folding over the dough and pummelling down, then rotate the mass 90° and repeat. The dough will be crumbly at first but will soon start to cohere into a single lump, also it will lose its initial stickiness and will stop sticking to your hands. Continue kneading for ten minutes.
Put the dough back in the mixing bowl, cover with a clean tea towel, and into the airing cupboard for 45 minutes.
Meanwhile grease and dust with flour two baking sheets.
After 45 minutes the dough should have risen considerably. Turn out on worktop again and knead for another minute, divide into four equal lumps, knead each one a few times and form into a large 'sausage' shape, making sure there are no cracks in the loaf. Put two on each baking sheet. At this point I like to decorate each loaf with crosswise slits cut gently with a knife, but that's up to you. Cover with the teatowel again and back into the airing cupboard for about 1½ hours.
Heat oven to 200°C. Put the loaves into the oven and bake for 25 minutes. Take loaves off the sheets, should feel hollow when tapped underneath: cool on wire rack.