Hi and pics from Mountain View, CA
Baked some simple bread (white, challah) every now and then for a year, but got more serious couple of weeks ago. Had a productive weekend, see pics below.
First up was whole wheat bread. In many of my breads that call for sugar or honey I substitute all or part Splenda, with a slightly more pale bread as a result. Does not seem to suffer otherwise. This bread was started with a poolish made on Thursday night and baked mid-day on Friday. Previously I had my bread collapse after/during slashing, I suspected due to not enough gluten development in the dough, so this time I did some hand-kneading after the stand mixer. It seems to have worked and I had great over spring (I use a thick baking stone as well).
Next up was a six braided Challah for my family. Dough started Thursday night as well, and immediately retarded in the refrigerator. I do this more to arrive at a workable schedule than to enhance the flavor, although it tasted just fine. Forgot to take a picture of this one, and it didn't last long anyway.
My 5 year old son got interested by everything I was doing and since I was planning a Pain a l'ancienne experiment on saturday, I told him he/we could make cinnamon raisin swirl bread. We made the dough for that Friday night, and refrigerated it overnight as well. Since he was doing the baking, we decided to create four mini-loaves so he could share with friends. He learned to use the scale (with TARE, and using grams so reading the numbers was easy) to measure the ingredients, operated the mixer and kneaded some (not strong enough for the real thing). Next day he made the cinnamon sugar, rolled out the dough (with some help), brushed it with the cinnamon sugar, and sprinkled it with raisins. I did the loaf shaping. This recipie used sugar.
Shaping those tiny loaves is not as easy as a bigger/normal loaf. Not all of them turned out nice and symmetrical, but they all tasted great!
The pain a l'ancienne was, like I said, an experiment. I think I left the dough slightly to wet, resulting in a little bit of a blob on the baking stone. The result was paler than I expected, no doubt due to my oven temp being on the low side (I think my oven is not great and its thermostat puts the real temp a little too low). Over spring brought some shape back. The bread tasted quite good, but I think the texture was also a little off. This one will require a few more practice runs!