Greetings from Alaska
I've been reading the forum for a few weeks now, and am so thankful for all the useful information for my bread-perfecting journey. I aspire to create the loaves many of you have pictured!
Before getting sucked into this art form, I made the occasional baguette from a recipe with a starter, but didn't do it very often because of the steps/time involved. I got a copy of Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day, and have had the best time turning out bread without starters. I'm still in the experimentation stage with what works best in terms of dough hydration and handling techniques, but I did manage to pull this European peasant bread out of the oven yesterday:
It was the first time I got a decent rise out of my loaf -- previous loaves were too wet and spread out -- but the crumb was quite dense despite two days of aging, and I gather I'm handling the dough too roughly or too much, and pushing out too many of the gas bubbles.
Thank you for this community! Looking forward to participating :)