A good how-to-book
I have baked bread off and on for 10 years. With craft loaves now approaching $4.50, I am back to baking regularly. I learned first from "Bread Alone" which was a good learning book. Hammelman's book introduced new techniques which immediately improved the loaves I was baking. The folding of the dough during the main fermentation gave it extra strength and improved the oven spring ; it was also easier to load the baking stone. He has a nice full discussion of hand techniques for preparing loaves for baking. I have used his Pain Rustique recipe with great success and with modifications to include whole wheat flour up to 25 %. It is nice to have a bread ready in 3 hours or so (not counting the long time for the poolish). I do not have an electric mixer but so far it hasn't been a problem. I break up a stiff poolish or biga with my fingers. It is messy but it works. I steam by spraying water on the oven sides. My loaves have looked nice like the pictures in books.