I assumed for a long time that bread baking was not for beginners, and even good bakers needed an especially good oven in order to bake decent bread.
My friend Madi recently broke this spell by publishing her wholegrain bread recipe [in Italian]. Knowing that I could ask her for help if needed, I decided to try myself. The recipe was really simple; my electric oven seemed good enough for the task. Actually, the first bread was pretty good! Madi gave me some tips on how to improve the process, and I wish to share them with you.
For example, this bread had too much water in the dough (or not enough flour – I stopped adding it as I thought the dough was firm enough):
You can see it came out very flat and with a lot of holes that correspond to many big bubbles. It was not bad, but as the water evaporated during baking and afterwards, it became quickly dry.
How to avoid that? Add all the flour that the recipe or the flour bag indicates. The dough could look firm and soft enough, but if you wait around one minute and it becomes sticky again, keep adding flour.
This other attempt was overall pretty good, but the crust was too dry and hard:
The crust became too hard because the oven temperature was insufficient. Even if the knob was set at 200°C, it was too low, so the crust dried instead of becoming crisp and brown. My solution was to set the oven at 230°C and closely monitor the baking process (especially with my nose: when bread is baking well, it always smells wonderfully!).
With the experience gained, here are two breads I am especially proud of:
I hope this inspires you to start baking! Feel free to ask me for clarifications 🙂
(More pictures of my baking successes on my Flickr)