This is my first post here... I'm new to sourdough breadmaking, and absorbing everything I can from this wonderful site, so there's not much useful I can add yet to the body of invaluable information on making breads.
I have stumbled across a useful aid to my breadmaking, which I haven't seen mentioned (maybe I just haven't looked hard enough!). Even though I have had it only a few days, it's helping to streamline my processes and improve accuracy - a digital infrared surface reading (non-contact) thermometer, something I picked up on eBay for around $20 delivered to me in Melbourne.
At a glance I can check whether my baking stone has heated to the required temperature, or the surface temperature of the dough while fermenting - or whether it has warmed to room temperature.
At this ridiculously low price, it was cheap enough to take a gamble - and so far it seems to be reasonably accurate. After 45 minutes with my fan forced oven set at 240°C, the stone was showing a surface temperature of 242°C. At the end of the bake, having opened the oven door several times and reduced the oven temperature to 200°C, the stone was showing about 180°C, a greater reduction than I would have expected.
This particular device has a temperature range from minus 50°C to plus 380°C, with a laser beam to target the measurement area (from a centimetre diameter or so close-up to 12cm diameter at a metre). A button swaps between Celsius and Fahrenheit. The accompanying pic shows it in action - though the very bright red laser spot is barely visible to the camera.
I have now also ordered a digital probe cooking thermometer ($5 delivered!) for checking internal bread cooking temperatures.