I have now gotten into baking bread at home and I like the result greatly.
The inspiration came from an anime Yakitate!! Japan! - a very funny anime about bread bakers with lots of parody on other anime and lots of over-the-top reactions to bread. It also has a lot of tips on baking your own bread which helps people get started. I have heard that 'Yakitate!! Japan' caused a bread baking mania in Japan on par with the Go mania from 'Hikaru No Go' (Off-side note: I wonder if making an anime about developing free software would turn people in Japan and all over the world to do it more?) I watched the anime a couple years back and promptly forgot about it, but now when I was thinking about what anime to show to my girlfriend it came back to me. After that we both decided that we need an oven to bake bread in, unfortunately the flat we are in has no oven, so we had to buy a free-standing one. After much research and deliberation and some good advice from my friends, I got us a Samsung CE1071AR microwave oven with grill and a convection oven function. It has been the best decision - cooking with this thing is easy and painless. It is large enough for one large loaf of bread or a bunch of cookies in two levels. It has a steam-based self-clean function and an automatic preheat function. It can do all the things that a microwave oven can do and also combine regular oven with microwaves. And best of all it also has a 40 degree setting in the convectional oven mode - that is perfect for raising bread right in the oven.
I am starting with the simplest bread recipes from The Fresh Loaf site tutorial section and in short order was able to produce some of the best tasting bread I ever had. You can see the result above. Now when my girlfriend and her sister decided to cook all kinds of stuff for Christmas I was not bored, but rather the opposite happened - I participated and had fun. Even more so - we are now watching the 'Yakitate!! Japan' anime, together with my girlfriend, looking for new tips for the cooking. I just might try to make a croissant next :D