Hello and HELP!!!
I need help!
Perhaps I should qualify that statement...
Allow me to introduce myself. My situation can be summarised by one word: novice
I write this as I finish yet another unsuccessful session attempting to bake something that approximates what we know as 'bread'. It's the latest in a 5 month string of failures which have resulted in multiple skin burns, one broken oven and an assortment of burnt/broken/cracked equipment (not to mention countless bags of flour, bottles of water etc. etc.)
To give some background - I have been following Peter Reinhart's Bread Baker's Apprentice as well as a wealth of other information on this website and many others. All fantastic information and instruction but apparently completely useless in the hands of a novice such as myself.
Whether I'm following a recipe to the letter or attempting to apply a principle which I have learned - the result is always the same. Tasteless bread which is usually too dense and doughy (with the occasional air bubble) or burnt or a combination of the two. Crusts completely evade me and if I do manage a sembalnce of a crust, it is there for all of 5 minutes before it softens to leathery soft pap.
I have tried varying everything from baking temperature, rise time (and temperature), baking time, baking surface, flour (many different brands, strengths etc.), kneading times (or no knead recipes), baking stones, water sprays etc. etc. etc. - again with no success.
I think I need help (and possibly of the psychiatric kind). I understand and respect that it takes a life time to master the skills of great bread but I feel like I am not progressing or learning at all (although I hope I have absorbed at least some of the theory and science of breadmaking - gluten, autolyse, enzymes, protease etc.)
Would love to hear suggestions, opinions, therapists you could recommend....