Turned in Novice Artisan Bread Baking Permit
Well, as much as I've tried, I've found that I'm just not an Artisan type of bread guy and I just don't have the pallet that a lot of people seem to have that say Artisan bread taste better. I guess my taste buds are just not European enough to think it's better. Yes, it's easy to do and you can mix it up ahead of time and then bake it when you need it (or is that noneed it?) and it does add to the flavor if you let it sit in the fridge for one or more days... but, I just don't find the great taste that everyone seems to rave about in their bread.
I've pulled a few recipes off of the internet for French bread that are pretty much the same as out of the books I've been following (same salt, flour, yeast, water), but they don't go into the fridge (although I suppose it could), they don't have autolyse done (although it probably could), or use poolish or biga and you actually have to do some kneading. But the whole thing, from start to out of the oven is about 3 1/2 hours (it would be less if I proofed warmer). I don't let it cool for an hour but slice it up hot and put lots of butter on it right out of the oven and the bread tastes great with more flavor than almost all of the ones I've done out the books by the experts I've tried (and I'm counting from when I got consistent and not all of my early attempts).
I have learned a lot trying to do the Artisan thing, including about how the whole process of making bread works and how the different ingredients interact with each other and what causes them to act the way they do... that part has been real interesting. It's going to help me with just plain ole bread as well. I've come to like being able to use a the scales to bake with (that probably comes from spending a lot of years mixing my own dark room chemicals by weight and also using scales to mix different color glass powders in glass fusing by weight) but a lot of recipes on the internet are by volume and not weight, so I won't be using the scales that much unless I find some really good recipes I want to keep making and figure out the weight for them so I can keep it consistent between batches. My wife will be glad to get some of the counter space back as well not having to keep moving that cast iron dutch oven all of the time, and all of my buckets and trays and... well, you know, all that stuff that comes with baking bread. :D
So, I'm turning in my Novice Artisan Bread Baking Permit and going back to baking just plain ole country bread that a lot of us, that didn't live near the big cities, grew up with.