Hi there, I'm new to TFL and have been poking around the last few days. I came by way of a "good" sourdough search and am currently brewing the pineapple juice version at home. I have been cooking/baking/canning/having epiphanies in my kitchen for a long time and am on a "bread mission" now to get good bread under my belt. I received a bread machine for free several years ago and have become bored with it, although I'm sure it will continue to serve a good purpose here and there. I started making No Knead bread a couple of years ago, loved it, impressed dinner guests with it, etc. I didn't see the book on variations of NK bread until I poked around here, but did experiment with some variations of my own, with contented success.
My next step was the Almost No Knead Bread, which I also liked, but started to see the difference between the two and my curiousity was roused. I tackled popovers a few years ago, and although they aren't an artisan bread, they've kept my interest piqued and you might say I have been skirting bread for some time. I'm finally jumping in with both feet. I think what's drawing me to bread is my love of learning. I've found with any venture I'm neck-deep into that if I'm not learning from it, I'm off in a different direction. I'm pretty sure that bread can put a salve on that part of my soul, LOL. I own Beth's Basic Bread Book but have not made any of the recipes from it and am finding the book itself lacking for things I want to make and perfect. There are a couple of other bread books I have my eye on and Santa will probably be very helpful.
Last night I made English Muffins for the first time, utilizing a recipe from another site. I couldn't believe how easy they were and am now smacking myself for not attempting those much sooner. I'm a tough critique on my own handiwork and noted what I would like to be different with my next batches. Originally I wanted to learn how to make English Muffins as an outlet for all the spare starter I'll soon have, LOL, but now I want to try Dan Lepard's Cider Vinegar English Muffins tonight, as those sound just about exactly like what I'm looking for.
From my first batch of English Muffins I learned: 1.) I think I'll like the results better if I use AP flour next time instead of bread flour; 2.) I think I might like a smidge more salt in my next batch (and I'm not a salt-hound); 3.) I'd like my dough to be wetter; 4.) the recipe called for mixing the dough in the bread machine (yes, I know, the horror) and I think it became overmixed slightly so that I didn't have the lovely big holes in my finished muffins.
To be fair, the bread machine served a wonderful purpose in that I was also baking several batches of cookies at the same time and anything that can help me multi-task is golden. But I'll leave it for a different bread next time and try a batch of English Muffins with some good old-fashioned elbow grease.
And don't get me wrong, the English Muffins I made were very tasty! I ate one myself, left one for my boyfriend and brought the rest to work. All have been devoured with rave reviews but I thought them to have more of the texture of a really good roll (although they were shaped properly!).
So my goal is to make a batch of English Muffins (of approx a dozen per batch) for each of my 8 staff, plus my 3 peers, plus my manager as a holiday gift for all of them. If I'd done any canning this year I'd have homemade jam to accompany, but that's something I can do next year! And in the meantime I can keep everyone happy with my castoffs. LOL