I'm not sure if this is the right sub-forum to post in having only just discovered this site - let me know if it belongs elsewhere.
I've been making my own pizzas for some time but had never really got very much into making bread by hand. When I decided to have a go at bread I found that I could make a passable loaf but if I changed any small detail it would all go wrong. A few weeks ago a friend helped out by suggesting Richard Bertinet's "Dough" which turned out to be a revelation and things improved a lot. I then got his "Crust" book and had to try the sourdough.
I expected my first attempt at sourdough to go wrong and teach me some important lessons but I was delighted to find that it worked out pretty well with only a couple of glitches: I had 1.8Kg of dough but only one 1Kg linen lined proving basket so I used a mixing bowl lined with a teatowel for one of the loaves and despite flouring it heavily the dough stuck slightly.
I baked the mxing bowl loaf first (oven at 250c with the fan off, pizza stone and rapid misting*) but didn't have the knack to get the loaf of of the peel (thin, plastic chopping board) smoothly so it went from round to fat kidney bean and deflated almost as fast as my mood. But, it sprang up more than I could have hoped for in the oven and ended up looking pretty good. For the second loaf I used extra polenta on the peel and jerked it more confidently at the baking stone which resulted in it going on straight and round.
The flavour was pleasantly sour, the crusts were nicely chewy and, for the non-mixing bowl loaf at least, the texture was quite open and regular. So I have a lot to experiment with but could not be happier with the way the first batch turned out.
I can't wait to dig through the forums here and discover the hints, tips and advice that I am sure is waiting for me.
* Just a comment on the rapid misting: I tried one of the squeeze trigger plant misters to spray the oven just before and just after putting loaves in but I now use one of the pressurised misters with a pump handle on the top as it delivers a big volume of fine mist very quickly and has definately improved the crusts I get. I have an earthenware cloche on order which I hope will result in further crust improvement.
I hope I haven't bored you - it is hard not to babble when I discover something exciting!