Back to basics - semi-success
Well here it is - my first vaguely edible result from the oven in a long long time.
It's nowhere near perfect but I thought I'd share in the hope I can get some feedback about where I'm going wrong.
What I did:
Whisked 2 tsp yeast in 250g warm water + 2 tsp sugar and let it stand until it started frothing. Mixed this into a dough with 400g flour and about 5g salt (scale kept wavering) Kneaded for 15 minutes.
Bulk fermentation for 1 hour 20 minutes at room temperature in a plastic bowl covered with plastic wrap. Here it is after bulk fermentation:
Degassed and attempted to shape into a loaf shape but it ended up more like a baton.
I then let it sit for secondary fermentation for about 1 hour on oiled baking parchment and loosely covered with oiled plastic wrap. Here's how it turned out:
Transferred to a baking sheet (lined with baking parchment) and slashed the top with a sharp knife (I'm not too good at slashing)
Sprayed water on top and baked at 450 for 15 minutes with 3 'steam injections' 30 seconds apart at the beginning of baking.
I then reduced temperature to 375 (I think...the thermometer was not in the oven at the time - had to remove it to turn the baking sheet around) and baked for another 20.
After removing from the oven, I left the bread to rest on a wire rack for 1 hour. Yes it looks pretty burnt. I blatantly had the temperature too high. I noticed that there was no real expansion during baking around the slashed areas unlike most of the pictures I see of slashed loaves.
Crust softened about 10 minutes after removal from oven.
Taste was yeasty (not a good sign I know) but not entirely inedible either. The crust was surprisingly chewy. Here's the crumb: