Hi- new member from California!
Although I've been baking for about 30 years, I only recently re-entered the world of BREAD baking. My grandparents owned a bakery in England when I was a child, so I developed a strong attachment to baking as a youngster. However, I have to admit, I must not have been paying enough attention when they tried to teach me how to bake bread! I was more dazzled by the sweet goods in those days. I had some mediocre bread baking successes in the past, but convinced my poor grandfather would be rolling in his grave if he saw the results, I eventually gave it up. About 3 months ago, fed up with paying almost $4 a loaf for substandard, lack-luster, flavorless bread at the local market, I decided I should try again. So here I am. As I'm a scientist by training, my approach this time was a little different, figuring if I could get a better handle on the science of bread making, as well as the art, perhaps my results would be more palatable. I'm happy to report that my more recent attempts at crafting bread have been significantly more successful!
Believe it or not, I re-entered the world of bread baking after watching an episode of Good Eats. I don't know why, but I figured if Alton Brown could do it, why couldn't I? The bread was a perfectly acceptable basic white loaf...but I was after something better. Shortly thereafter I picked up a copy of Reinhart's 'Bread Bakers Apprentice', and that certainly seemed to (mostly) set me on the right path. Thankfully though, the Fresh Loaf exists. Feeling adventurous, I wanted to craft my own sourdough from scratch using Reinhart's method, and have a starter well under way by Thanksgiving. However, I had a slight hitch with my seed culture in the beginning, and that's how I found this forum. With Reinhart's popularity, I figured someone else out there must've had trouble too. Sure enough, I found the post linking to Reinhart's published correction for the sourdough starter via this site...and with a little aeration, the sourdough was saved! I aerated and fed the starter for a few days, the activity and aroma improved significantly, and it's now producing flavorful, moderately sour loaves of bread. My very first sourdough boule, baked last weekend, is pictured below. I have a lot more to learn about bread making though. I'm thrilled to see there are so many serious bakers out there, and I look forward sharing tips, tricks and ideas with the group. :)
"Without bread all is misery." - William Cobbett