Wanting to learn how to bake bread...
Here's another online resource I found through Farmgirl Fare:
Three bakers with food-related blogs of their own are teaming up to bake together (virtually), share tips, etc for a year, starting in a few weeks. Right now there are some beautiful bread pictures on the site, but the real content will start soon (March 22). You can sign up for email notifications of updates to the site.
I'd say any of the Peter Reinhart books or "Bread" by Mark Kamelman are the ways to go. Berenbaum's "Bread Bible" frustrated me.... she is incredibly dogmatic and insists on following her recipes to the finest detail, and yet even when I would do so I would achieve subpar results. Kamelman's book is more for professionals than novice home bakers, but I read it even as a novice and found it fascinating. Reinhart is probably the most accessible and comprehensive and produces the best results.
Yay--another novice bread baker! I just started last month, and am trying to bake bread 2x a week. I've kept it pretty simple so far, but I think I'll have time next month to get going on a starter.
I always overbuy when I'm getting into something new, so I picked up in the last month:
Crust and Crumb
King Arthur's Whole Grain Baking
I read all of the introductory material in Crust and Crumb, which I think has helped ground me a bit in basic process and understanding the twists. As for recipes, I've made some out of Crust and Crumb and one out of Bread Bible. I just got Bread Alone earlier this week so haven't spent much time with it yet, and I'll get to KA eventually.
One thing I've done is attempted to keep a bread journal (I am far from consistent with this). I try to log what I make on which days, if I changed anything with recipe, photos of the breads at various points (e.g., first rise, second rise, proof, out of oven). Now, I haven't actually gone back to learn from my journal yet, but I think it will help me this summer when I have much more time to focus on developing a skill. Right now I'm trying to get comfortable with it and keep the bread coming so I'm not tempted to pick some up at the store.
I'm still very much in the "I can't believe I made that" mode, even though (a) I've made nothing more than a mediocre loaf at this point, and (b) I keep telling folks at work that making a mediocre loaf is pretty easy. I think its making consistently excellent loaves that is truly tough.
And I still get thrilled with feeling the dough under my hands when I knead.
Oh...and I'm gaining weight. Too much good bread in the house.
When I bought my first food processor, it had a recipe for making bread in it. I tried it and it was great. It started me on a long career of baking breads and rolls. I'd say a stand mixer or food processor and a thermometer, bowls, bread pans and measuring devices are all you need and you don't really need all that. They've been making bread for centuries with just a bowl, their hands and a oven, it isn't that hard and if you screw it up, try again. It is all practice makes perfect.
You'd be surprised how good a simple bread can be. 1 pkg of yeast, 3 1/4 cups of flour. 2 tbsp of butter and approx 1-1 1/4 cups of water (more or less as needed to make a nice dough that isn't too sticky or too dry).
Once I soften the yeast I throw it all in the FP and mix until it forms a ball and then leave it in the FP for the first rise, take it out, knead it and form it into a loaf for the second rise and then bake. It can be as easy or as complicated as you want to make it.
I bought three books and feel invincible about artisan bread baking:
Nancy Silverton's Breads from La Brea Bakery:
As a absolute novice breadmaker (my first loaf was made on monday, my second loaf is slated for tonight), THANK YOU for that link. It seems very helpful and straight foward and I plan to use oodles of the tips tonight for my second loaf of bread ever.
I know there are tons of books I could look at, but right now I can't justify spending money on a new cookbook and I can only keep library books for so long, so a detailed website with pictures is exactly what I needed. Thanks again!