I cook all sorts of foods -- Indian, Thai, Mexican, French, Italian -- I bake, I make stocks. I can't make good bread to save my life. I've tried all the tricks (dump water into hot pan at the start of baking for initial spring, use pizza stone, etc.), but I can't get a crust like a good bakery or even flavor that I would rank as acceptable. My biggest problem is texture.
I'm a little spoiled because I work near the Sullivan Street bakery. I want to make a bread with that cottony texture that great french bread has -- when you break off a piece, it separates in "wisps", not along an edge.
I just made a basic french bread dough recipe, just water, flour, yeast, and salt. I've tried adding more water to get bigger holes, more chew. Instead, I wound up with that same old, same old. Spongy texture, tight holes, and dry. The dough rose well. The bread flour I was using is fairly old. Could that be it? Or is really good bread something a home cook just can't replicate without the commercial equipment?