Just started baking and loving it!
I'm so glad to have found such an informative, vibrant and very much alive forum like this.
I'm a student from Adelaide, South Australia and i love to cook in my spare time. Recently, being a typical student living on a typical student income, i have decided to start baking my own bread. This is for two reasons, 1. because it's loads cheaper than buying it. and 2. I love the beautiful taste and texture of proper bread that is worthy of decent toppings and that just tastes good on its own.
To that end, i have been scouring the internet for recipes and lessons on technique. My fist loaf was a failure as the recipe i had gave about a 25% hydration (i'm pretty sure it was a typo in the recipe) and of course, having never made bread before, i had no idea this would result in cooking a brick!!
For my next attempt, i made a sourdough starter using buttermilk and dry yeast (cheating i know!) and made a sourdough loaf and the buttermilk cluster recipe. At this stage, i didn't know of the wonders of high gluten bread flour and just used plain old supermarket flour. The sourdough was ok but a little dense but the clusters were yeasty, dense and a little undercooked.
The third attempt, last night, blew me away! I cooked a Ciabatta (the one they call Jason's Cocodrillo glop) and another sourdough using the San Fransisco style recipe in the handbook. This time i had some good quality Lauke 'Wallaby' bread flour and had learnt all about hydration and proper gluten development. I cooked the loaves on my baking stone until they reached the desired internal temperature and wa-la! beautiful amazing bread with great crumb structure and taste. This truly is bread worthy of good toppings and intend to make some nice Bruschetta with the ciabatta.
So, i've waffled on long enough- thanks to all who continue to add their knowledge to this forum and help people like me out.