I'm glad your bread turned out well-enough for you to be happy.About the water:
After you're more comfortable, experiment with more water. The rule of thumb calls for 6.3 pounds of water to every 10 pounds of flour. You can move up to 75 percent radio for some breads. The wetter the dough, the harder it is to work with. The dividend is a more irregular, chewy bread.Repeat the same recipe:
My teacher strongly recommended that beginners make the same bread repeatedly, toying with one variable at a time to see differences. In the end, you'll have a perfect loaf and a whole lot of learning.Practice shaping:
If you're cursed with ten thumbs, bread may taste and smell delicious, but it will never quite look right. Just keep making it; there's nothing to practice on but bread dough. If you've shaped a loaf and you don't like it, put it aside, let it rest for ten or fifteen minutes, then try again.Buy a scale and a thermometer:
A cup of flour scooped out of the bag tends to be compacted and weigh about 5.5 ounces, by King Arthur. It should weigh only 4 ounces. Especially in large recipes, that's the difference between a chewy loaf and a doorstop. To avert that calamity, use a kitchen scale. A thermometer is essential both for the water used to dilute the yeast, and to test the heat of rising dough--try to keep it at 70 to 75 degrees. These are modest expenses. Why guess?
There are more tips, but they can be summarized thus:
Bread making can be as intensely personal an experience as you like. If it speaks to your soul, as it may, you can take flight at the sight of a working sponge. If it doesn't, you still get a nice loaf to eat.
[ June 03, 2001: Message edited by: Kimmie ]