My first real attempt at baking bread...
About two months ago, I decided I wanted to try baking bread. I began perusing allrecipes.com, a site I have begun using quite extensively since I really began cooking a lot a half year ago. I found a recipe for "Amish White Bread", and as it had good reviews, I decided to try it, just for a sandwhich bread. It went very well, considering the fact that I hadn't really taken much time to learn about bread baking. After the bread had undergone its first rise, I discovered that the outside of the risen dough was a little dry. After it had proofed, the outside of the dough was again just a little dried out. I formed the two loaves, popped them in the oven, and had to take them out about ten minutes prior to the end of the prescribed baking time.
The two problems I encountered came from me allowing the dough to dry out, I believe. The loaves both had an enormous crack along the side and top, and as I found out when cutting and eating, there was a little portion inside each loaf that was not quite done.
Now, these didn't prove to be too big of problems, however. My wife LOVED the bread, despite the very small vein of almost-baked dough. As for the cracks, although they were more accidental and pronounced than the natural cracking that (often purposely) occurs from the oven spring, they weren't a big deal.
Needless to say, I was hooked, and had to learn more about this (then) mysterious process of baking. So the next day I went to the local bookstore, bought their only book on bread baking (The Art of Baking), and checked out two books from the library (Daily Bread and Peter Reinhart's Whole Grain Breads). Within about a week I had read through all three, and here I am...baking away! :)