When I first moved to Wales, I made bread pretty much every couple of days and worked out my own recipe of a combination of flours, oil rather than lard or butter, dried yeast and lukewarm water. We had a Rayburn and the solid state oven baked the bread beautifully - all I had to do was adjust the length of cooking time, depending on how hot the Rayburn happened to be at the time. I sat the dough on the plate rack above the Rayburn to prove. More than once, I left it too long and it started to escape the pans, but in general, I thought it was pretty good.
When I moved into the cottage, I had already given up making bread regularly due to adverse comments and the lack of time while working; besides which, the old gas oven was just not up to it. It would have been a perfect time to get a bread-maker, but I didn't have the counter or cupboard space for one. Then the old gas cooker packed up and had to be replaced. I've had my lovely new oven (and no-one to criticise me!) for over a year, so I thought, why not?
I've forgotten so much - one of those 'use it or lose it' things. I've made focaccia a couple of times and forgotten to cover dough on its second rise, to keep the crust soft. I couldn't find my previous recipe, so used a different one, with different brands of flour and yeast, and was not very impressed with the results.
On Sunday, I found that I had forgotten to buy bread and didn't have any left in the freezer. I was yearning for fresh bread, so I decided to make a white loaf, shaped like a cottage loaf as I have lost my bread pans. I used a new recipe and found the amount of water, albeit only 68% hydration, resulted in an enormously slack dough. Not just slack - really wet and sticky, somewhere between dough and batter. Knocking it back was a nightmare which gave me flashbacks to my earliest attempts at bread making in my teens, where I would have dough stuck up to my elbows, in my hair, on my face and on every surface, except where it was supposed to be. Eventually I gave up trying to knock it back and just let it slump into the oiled pan I was going to use, covered it with oiled film and let it think about rising again. It didn't do much, so perhaps I left it too long on its first rise. Wondering what it would turn out like, I threw it in the oven and remembered this time to take five minutes off the cooking time (I burnt the last focaccia).