Longtime lurkers finally joined!
Hello all! This account is actually for two people, Arielle and Sophia, since we usually bake together. We've both read lots of posts on this forum when trying to troubleshoot our breads, and finally decided to just make an account.
Arielle: I've been baking my whole life, but didn't try bread until about two years ago, and it's definitely been a bumpy road. I started off the summer after my freshman year of college, because my RA used to make fresh bread for us all on Saturday nights and it was a great tradition that I wanted to continue after he graduated! I spent a summer making very dense, soft loaves of white bread and failing to get any sort of crust, but since then I've had lots of practice & learned many new techniques. While I'm still miles from mastering baguettes (one of my eventual goals), I'm working on higher-hydration doughs and feel comfortable using our sourdough starter (Terrence).
Sophia: I began baking bread because of Arielle! We made such tasty treats together that I couldn't help but want to keep going and bake new and interesting breads. I love making breads in interesting shapes, such as pitas, pretzels, foccacia, and more. I want to make delicious sourdough but I haven't quite mastered it yet.
How did you all start baking bread? What's something indispensible you've learned since you started?
My bread interest started over 30 years ago when I bought a bread machine. It soon started to fail so I threw it out, but at least it got my interest up. I launched into hand kneading and baking in loaf tins and then free-form loaves on a stone. I started with commercial yeast, fresh and instant, and still bake an instant yeast rustic loaf occasionally as my wife loves it (10% whole rye and 10% whole wheat).
I started to explore sourdough about 20 years ago and love it. I read everything I could find about the science to demystify sourdough starters. I recommend you search for Debra Wink on this site and absorb her research.
I also recommend you learn about baker's per-cent and weigh all ingredients in grams, Buy one or two informative books, by Jeffrey Hamelman or Peter Reinhart.
Cheers and good luck. This site is exceptionally good for advice as there are some great bakers here.