Single Guy Seeking the Perfect Bread
Hi. I am new here so I'm jumping right in with a very basic request for help. I have been unofficially baking bread off and on for about 10 years. I'm used to my own cooking and my standards are what you might call - very flexible. So, I have many times quickly read thru a bread recipe and tossed it together, kneaded it and baked it into something edible. Sometimes I get better results than others but pretty often I end up with a yeasty smelling heavy brick which I donate to the Raccoons. Sometimes I get something I can live with but in my heart I know that I want bread that has a completely different personality. About once every two weeks I will sling together a seat-of-the-pants recipe, hoping to hit on the secret combination that will yield the bread I had in Italy or Tunisia. I have still not succeeded. So, I thought I might describe the desired outcome to the folks here and see if someone can point me to a recipe that will get me closer to it.
I am trying to bake bread that is sort of like flat bread but has big knarly air bubbles in it. Sort or rubbery and sourdoughy and yet crispy around the edges. I lived in Tunisia for a year and the locals would cook bread in their back yard in a taboona oven made of clay. Their bread was wonderful and pretty much what I am shooting for. I tried to capture the art from them but it was many years ago before the baking bug fully bit me.
Sorry this is so long. Let me conclude by describing how I bake bread now and perhaps someone can tell me where I need to change.
Now I mix about 2 cups of all purpose flour, a teaspoon of salt, a tablespoon of olive oil and a tablespoon of sugar. Separately, I mix a package of dry yeast with a little warm water and throw in a pinch of sugar and flour thinking it will give it something to eat. I stir it up with a chopstick. About ten minutes later I dump this into the flour mixture and begin to wad it up with my hands - covered in olive oil. I add small amounts of water until the dough becomes - like dough... After it balls up. I knead it on a flour dusted couter top for about 10 minutes. I spray pam on the inside of a large glass bowl and put the dough in it. I cover it up with celophane. I put it in my oven (off) and set a baking dish full of microwave moderately heated water under it thinking this will make the yeast happy. I wait 4 to 6 hours. It rises. I punch it down in the bowl with about 3 good mashes of the fist. I pick it up and mash it on the counter top about five times trying to coax it into a ball shape as I do this. I put it in a cake pan for the final rise and baking. I want it flatter so I figured the big pan would let it flatten out. I wait about 1 or 2 hours and I bake it at 400 degrees F till it seems/smells done. When it is first cooking, I throw a couple of 1/8 cup amounts of water onto the oven inside - side- thinking that the steam will make it have a crunchy crust.
What I get is a realtively heavy bread that smells too yeasty and has a homogenous boring consistency like cheap storebought loaf bread.
So, how do I get flatbread that is na-anish, sourdoughish and bubbly?
Thanks in advance for the help or tip toward something to read!