Ignore the first rule of baking at your own peril!
First rule of baking - KNOW YOUR OWN OVEN.
I think I did until a couple of weeks ago when I finally found out that I have been baking my breads in a not-so-correct oven mode for the past 6 months.
Instead of pre-heating my oven with fan+top & bottom heat, I pre-heated my oven and baked in a fan-assisted (with some heating elements) mode. The result after using the correct baking mode is significantly improved.
The loaves are more open with nicer ears and crumbs. Finally, I have a decent looking loaves.
This is my latest bake, Sourdough Seed Bread from Jeffrey Hamelman's Bread cookbook, more details are here:(http://youcandoitathome.blogspot.com/2010/11/sourdough-seed-bread-finally-nice-and.html).
This bread is also one of our favorite. It has a lovely texture and nuttiness taste from sesame seeds and sunflower seeds. I used black sesame seeds as I find them tastier than the white one and they're more nutritious, I believe. Generally, I like breads with a bit of texture, being it grains, seeds, nuts or fruits.
I also put some sesame seeds onto the loaves just before putting them into the oven. I spray the loaf surface slightly with water before pressing sesame seeds onto it.
Latest bake with correct baking mode
Previous bake of the same loaves, but in a not-so-correct baking mode
Always had some troubles with the diagonal scoring.
Yes, I had suffered from the oven mishap. I'm hoping that my loaves will be prettier in the future bakes.