Ol' Barry has been my boy for the past seven or eight years now. I've used countless cookbooks including Beard on Bread (written by the much-celebrated bread maker James Beard) and nobody got nothin' on Barry. This guy is an under-the-radar bread god. His recipes often involve a quick history of the bread being baked, sometimes an etymological breakdown of the name of the bread; he's happy to get into the weeds re. starters, where they come from, how they differ, how best to treat them. He takes pics of what the dough is supposed to look like at any given time and what to expect from crumb, chew, color, etc.
Best advice it took me forever to take: flour is not your friend. Water is your friend. Add only as much flour as the recipe calls for, and if it recommends a range, use the lower end if the range. If your dough is dry enough to knead easily, then your dough is too dry. Instead of flouring your hands and the board during kneading, just wet your hands down a little.
And go by weight rather than volume.
Barry's the man. Website is a total fucking mess, though.
I'm about to have six days off, think I'll make a contribution.
Runner-up: Mark Bittman, whose no-knead bread is as easy as he makes it sound, and also comes out as good as it looks in the NYT pictures. Just make sure to take the suggested amount of time. Good bread requires patience.
Some day I'll work up the gumption to do a sourdough starter. Apparently it stinks to high heaven, but goddamn it would be worth it...
I have never had a new sourdough starter get more than mildly funky. If it's stinking, you aren't discarding and feeding often enough. Do it twice a day, and the funk won't be strong and it won't last more than a week.