I know that I am inundating you with bread, but I am just so excited about my new found 'talent'. Most of the credit goes to Bread Alone. Their bread cookbook is amazing. And a lot of the credit goes to poolish.
Poolish is the pre-bread you make before you are ready to make the real bread. It is a watered down version of the final product, consisting of spring water, yeast and flour.
This is poolish right after it has been mixed together. It resembles a thick gummy gruel.
Leave it covered for 2-24 hours and it bubbles up to fill the bowl (this was after only 2 hours of waiting). It now resembles flubber - both sticky and resilient at the same time.
You use the poolish as a starter, to which you add more spring water and yeast, and then lots more flour with a little salt added in, until you have enough flour to make a nice dough.
Another nice trick I learned in Bread Alone's cookbook is once you have your lovely loaf of bread out of the oven and have had as much warm slices slathered with salty butter that you can stand to eat, you shouldn't store it in plastic, nor in the fridge. All you need to do to keep it remaining fresh is leave the loaf cut side down on a wooden cutting board. I know, sounds dubious, right? I expected to have a rock hard loaf on my hands after a night left like this... but it worked! The cut side was not dried out and the whole loaf was still crunchy on the outside and soft and chewy on the inside. Perfect. It lasts like this for three days.