At last a complete set of gear
A friend recently gave me another banneton, so now I have two. I have two *large* clear plastic bags from my health-food coop, and clothespins to hold them shut over the bannetons. I had earlier scraped up the money for another dutch oven (making two) and some serious oven mitts. An oven thermometer. Oh, and a Kitchenaid mixer that a friend gave me years ago, a mixer that has produced bread, cake, cookies, etc. in profusion. Thank you Robin.
Maybe someday I can get a new stove :) But I make do with the old one, with the busted top element. At least it keeps a steady temp. I have been reading David Lebovitz's book My Paris Kitchen. He describes his first oven, in a rental, that had to monitored minute by minute, fiddling with the dial, sometimes propping the oven open, sometimes propping it shut with a chair. And yet he baked :)
Tenacity is an admirable trait, and so is innovation. You're not just making the best of what you have, you're baking your own bread!
Your broken oven element can result in uneven heating. I have an idea, and would ask others who are more experienced than I am to chime in with their thoughts - if you could get a pizza stone, or large unglazed terracotta tile, and place it on the top rack in your oven as you preheat prior to baking, stored heat would radiate from it during your baking, helping to balance the heat contribute to browning. Do you think your dutch ovens would fit?