This is such a great site. I just love all the enthusiasm and advice available here.
I first got involved with the bread making thing because we are building a house in the country and the nearest good bread is 40 km away at Giant Steps in Healesville. And they have very good bread indeed.
I needed to be able to make bread at home stress free and as simply as possible.
I started with Jim Lahey's 'miracle' bread, and let me tell you, if your starter dies or you need an alternative to sourdough, this bread is fabulous. Not as fabulous as sourdough of course.
Then I took a long time and some wrong turns and finally made my own starter using a combination of Sourdom's method along with extra info in the La Brea bread book.
I now have a kick arse white starter that doubles in size in 6 hours. I am very proud of this baby.
To start with I bought only pricey flours with high protein % even though I had to go out of my way to get it.
Then I started to wonder what would happen if I used plain old Aldi white flour at 79 cents a kilo to feed my starter and make a loaf.
Well all I can say is that I got my best results ever, and more compliments than before. A better crumb and beautiful grigne, and a fantastic crust.
Then I got even more incautious and wondered if I could get a result going no knead, no nothing. And what do you know, it got even better. For those of you who are not making the sign of the devil at me (!) here is what I do. Any requests and I will take photos and upload.
I use the 1, 2, 3 method. Mix starter with water, add the salt, then add the flour. Stir a couple of times with a knife and let it sit covered for half an hour. Tip out onto a floured bench, sprinkle a little flour on top as it is quite sticky, then form into a rough batard and put seam side down in a banneton that I have prepared with semolina. Place in a plastic bag for about 6 hours then into the fridge overnight. Turn out onto baking paper, slash the top and then into a romertopf (I have buggered my good cast iron casserole with all the bread making and want to preserve it now for other stuff). I bake in 250 degree oven preheated about half an hour. Lid on for 30 minutes, lid off for about 12 minutes. Then let it cool a couple of hours. It is even great next day, when previously my bread was just so so a day later.
Today I baked a half rye, half Aldi white loaf. I did not expect much, but wow, it is great. Still no knead and still1 2-3. I used my killer white starter and added a tiny bit more water and 10g molasses. It cracked a bit, but nothing serious. Here are a couple of images. Still shot on the iPhone unfortunately, so the quality is suss.