Beginning Bread Baker (but have been baking bread for 35 years)
Hi! I'm new to the forum and have been baking mediocre bread for decades. But I searched the web, found this forum, and decided to work at being a better bread baker...WITH SUCCESS!
Here's what I have learned the hard way:
1) Get a scale...seriously!
2) Get a simple recipe and use only simple tools. The recipe I use calls for 500 grams of flour, so it's easy to experiment with hydration levels. I also use a plastic bowl, plastic bench knife, baking stone, parchment paper, and, of course, my sexy new scale.
3) Use your hands and learn to knead!
All of the problems I was having boiled down to two things: 1) I was working with too low a hydration level to develop good structure and 2) I was fooling myself with the no-knead recipes. I hope to eventually figure out the no-knead technique, but for now I'm enjoying the Zen of kneading.
Thanks to everyone who's posted on this forum, I'm now making consistently excellent bread!