For years now I’ve been an amateur bread baker that keeps trying the new and upcoming thing that runs across my computer. In the 90s I started with a focaccia recipe I found on USENET and Julia Child’s baguette recipe scribbled out of my mom’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking. In recent years I’ve picked up no-knead recipes, sourdough recipes and the like. I’ve also taken to radically changing some recipes with expectations on specific results. I see others doing the same thing in my groups. As we move around and try things the question becomes: “What makes a successful bread experiment?” Obviously if it turns out exactly as you intended that’d be a success but is that really it, or do we sometimes see a success staring right back at us but we don’t know it.
When I first started baking bread from the New York Times “no knead” recipe and the Tartine book I used a modified dutch oven type of configuration. I didn’t actually have a dutch oven, so I had oven safe bowls and a frying pan. I got good results not not exactly the look I was going for: I didn’t get the tearing or the oven spring. I’ve experimented with several ways of adding steam to the oven, using cast iron dutch ovens et cetera to try to get those perfect ears. What I really needed, it seems, was a better size dutch oven and to keep it simple.