People I've talked to seem afraid of making yeast products. Trust me, it's not hard and only takes patience and persistence to learn the nuances of yeast, kneading and gluten development. I belong to some great bread baking internet groups where I get ideas and help as well as read books and research the internet. King Arthur Flour also has an excellent site for recipes and tutorials for bread AND other baked goods.
Frankly, the introduction of bread machines has taken the guesswork out of making dough. You can dump it in the pan, drop it in the machine and set it and "forget" it (sort of. I find that you need to still tweak the dough ball with adding more water or more flour to get the proper consistency). Personally, I just use the dough cycle with one rise, to get the dough ready. I then remove it to shape and then proof (let it rise) a second time before baking in the oven. There are so many ways to shape your loaves and using the traditional oven is the only way to produce something other than a square or rectangular loaf that is typical of most bread machines. To bake bread in the oven, you can use a basic loaf pan or hand form the dough into a variety of shapes. For baking in the oven you can bake on a stone or baking sheet, or bake in a lidded baker (cast iron, clay baker, Corningware or Pyrex/glass).
Today's Musing is a King Arthur flour website recipe for Hearth Bread that I tried for the very first time. The recipe as written is for an Italian or French style loaf. At the end of the recipe, it has directions for an alternate baking method as well as ingredient substitution (whole wheat flour for white flour)
I deviated from the recipe somewhat. I use organic ingredients whenever I can. I cut the recipe by half, which produces a smaller loaf, about 1 lb. in size. I also followed the recipe suggestion and replaced some of the all purpose flour with traditional whole wheat flour. I didn't use the suggested baking methods. I let my dough rise for the second time in a simple round wicker basket that was lined with a well floured smooth linen type kitchen towel. After completing the second rise, I then flipped the dough onto a piece of parchment paper. I made the circular scoring pattern on the surface of the dough with a single edge razor blade. I then carefully picked up the dough by the parchment paper edges, and set it into my preheated, very HOT cast iron dutch oven. I baked the bread with the lid on, in a preheated 450 degree oven for about 20 minutes. I then then removed the lid and continued baking for about 10 minutes or so for the loaf to develop some color.
This is by far, the best scored bread that I've made so far. And it tastes delicious!
Here is the link to the King Arthur Flour recipe