Reformed Recipe Slave
This weekend I baked 4 French Bread boules (a recipe by Danielle Forestier from a PBS segment with Julia Child). Iv'e always had good success following this recipe, but these loaves were great. They did not collapse during the final proof. I scored them in one stroke rather than my normal hacking several times. The crust was golden, crisp and actually "sang" as I pulled them from the ovens (I had begun to think you guys were all high when you mentioned this could happen). The crumb was perfect, and they tasted great.
I kinda wish I had taken pictures, but you all know what a good loaf looks like. Some of you get those kind of results repeatedly. While I'm still very much a novice, I finally had the courage to follow the advise of some of those of you I consider the superstars (Mini-O, Mike Avery, Floyd, Susan from San Diego, and a bunch of others); I still weighed everything but trusted what I 'felt'.
I held back some of the flour because the hydration seemed just right without it. The kneading time changed a bit to suit the mixer I was using. I let the first rise go a bit longer than called for because the bread was not ready based on conditions in my kitchen. The final proof went a bit longer for the same reason.
It's not like I climbed Mt Everest or anything, but I turned a corner in my baking experiance. I guess that's why a lot of us bake bread. It's a personal sense of satisfaction and accomplishment, and has the added benefit of being able to share the end result with family/friends.
If I ever get a good as a some of you, I hope I am as patent and willing to share as you all have been with many of us that ask the same rookie questions again and again. Thanks for the help! This is a great forum.