Hello from Alaska
I've been reading this site off and on for quite awhile and finally decided to register on the forums now that we're a little closer to actually being able to bake bread again. After living in a wall tent for two years, a slice of fresh-baked bread will be a slice of heaven.
We're modern homesteaders building an off-grid cabin in the sub-arctic boreal forest, at the end of the road, in a remote area of the Alaskan Interior. Our ultimate vision is to be as self-sufficient as possible and have a sustainable homestead, growing/raising/hunting/foraging and preparing/preserving the majority of our food. We heat and cook using wood primarily, but do cheat a bit with a small propane stove, mostly in the summer for quick reheats and consistent temps while canning... we will not be having a conventional propane range and oven in the cabin (at least we're not planning on it). Since we've been cooking on our tiny wood heatstove in the tent, everything as been stovetop, and anyone who has ever tried to bake in a rigged stovetop oven knows this is quite painful and far from predictable. So far, I can manage biscuits and pizzas most of the time, but rolls and bread continue to elude me. Once the cabin is finished, we're planning to build a large wood-fired brick/mud oven in our outdoor kitchen for all our baking, and I dream of those wonderfully crusted rustic loaves. It's ambitious, but so are the rest of our dreams :)
The biggest obstacle is that I am not much of a baker. Really, I think I was born without a baking gene. Everything always tastes nice, if it doesn't explode in the oven or you can manage to chew it. Friends who bake tell me I have a heavy hand and punish my doughs too much. I think with more practice, I might be able to correct that, but I'm also really excited to try out long ferments, high hydration and no-kneads breads because I think the less I actually touch the dough, the better it's chances of survival! From my research, I also see that these methods help acheive/maintain a good crumb in breads made with 100% whole grains & multi-grains, as well as with home milled flours, which is what we'll be primarily using after I get comfortable practicing with commercial AP & bread flour. I have a mild wheat gluten intolerance, so I'm looking forward to using less wheat flours in my breads and experimenting with varying quantities of buckwheat, rye, oat, potato, and millet. Sourdoughs also seem to work better with my system, so it's a good thing that we both think there is no such thing as bread that is too sour! We both like bread that bites back :) I'm sure I'll be asking lots of questions and sharing many failures before I start posting any successes!
If worse comes to worse, I can hope that my husband inherited a baking gene and I can share his adventures while I dedicate myself to the more mundane kitchen art of simply cooking.