OK first thing I’ve learned is not to improvise too much.
When you find a recipe if you think that adding extra salt because you like salt or letting it rise longer will make it fluffier, stop thinking.
There are ratios that you use that are there for a reason- too hot of water, too much salt, too long a proof time can all destroy the structure of the glutens in your bread.
If you are a beginner like me, just stick to a couple of simple tried and tested recipes and through the making of the bread you’ll begin to understand the reasons why you do certain things.
One little thing I learned is that there is such thing as too long a proofing time. If you’re supposed to leave it overnight, 24 hours is going to be too long in the no knead bread recipe I use. What happens is the dough rises and rises and the air bubbles spread out the dough and then when you cook it, the bread doesn’t have that rise. It comes out more like a disc.
The other simple tip I have for you is to buy a lam (pronounced laam) It is a tool to score your bread and make fancy designs. If you try to score your bread with anything other than a super razor sharp knife you’ll make a mess of it. You need crisp cut lines cut in just before you’re going to pop it in the oven.
This way when it rises it will peel back a bit and make the bread have those cool ear’s on the top and if you put a little extra flour on top before you do so, those cuts will be even more pronounced.
SAINT GERMAIN Premium Hand Crafted Bread Lame with 6 Blades Included – Best Dough Scoring Tool with Authentic Leather Protective Cover
It’s under $15 and it comes with a bunch of blades. Scoring bread this setup will last you decades.
Here’s a video showing all the cool things you can do with a bread lame-