Hello from Minneapolis, MN
I've just stumbled upon this site and followed the first lesson to create a loaf of passable bread. That simple introduction has broken over 30 years of trepidation to baking. I actually feared baking as "I can't bake."
Nonsense. I can bake, and this site has helped. The weird thing is that I have cooked professionally, so I know my way around a kitchen, but I use the cook's convenient excuse, "I can cook fine, but I just can't bake." Now, I've just completed an orgy of leavened goodness. I have baking books, but I've taken two of them and followed the first recipes and completed them both.
The first recipe from Jim Lahey's My Bread, had me create a bread that my wife and I just cut into; we're absolutely stunned at the result. I can't believe I went from fearing yeast and flour to something that magnificent. I messed up and made the dough a touch too wet and it stuck to the towel on the second fermentation, but I was still able to get it into the hot pot and cook up a loaf of bread that, a week ago, was completely unimaginable to me.
I have now also just put my first two loaves in from Ed Brown's The Tassajara Bread Book. These two books couldn't be more different and that's why I made the first loaf in each. Ed's more hands-on method of stir, knead, punch, punch, roll and bake was the type of baking that I feared most; I thought I would mess up in some way and then regret that I started again. I followed his marvelous examples to the letter and I may have a couple of nice loaves waiting for me (they haven't finished baking yet -- I'm nervous as all get out).
Anyway, I appreciate this site and push I got from the simple first lesson.
I fear that once yeast and flour get in your veins, you're doomed...