New bakers are often the best bread makers because they don't have any old knowledge that gets in their way. They start their own bakery for one reason: passion!
Let's explore the differences!
Some bakers believe that bread is bread and that there's no reason to go into crazy amount of detail and obsess over different types of flours and fermentation methods. They simply follow the industrial practices that are well known in the industry and rely on industrially produced ingredients.
Others get more curious and become students of history and ask why is bread made the way it is made today, and was it always done this way? Is bread made the same way everywhere? They seek answers to almost everything and in the process create their own method based on what interests them, their skill level, and availability of ingredients.
The really good bakers obsess over the type of wheat grain used and often derive a recipe with a mix of grains that resonates with them and the perfect flavor profile they have in mind. They visit small flour mills that approach milling in much the same way as themselves and develop a relationship that is mutually beneficial. The really good bakers work with freshly milled flour which has a lot more flavor, and it is nutrient rich. Fresh stone-milled flour is usually milled whole grain and then sifted if necessary, unlike the industrial processed flour.
However, the majority of bread bakers buy flour from local distributors of industrial flour. This flour is often "enriched" which means a flour without any nutrients of its own, so they added back chemically derived nutrients otherwise it will be flour dust. Unfortunately a large majority of bakers use this type of flour.
A very small percentage of artisanal bakers mills their own flour which gives them more flexibility but not necessarily better flour. There's a skill involved in milling and I believe that working closely with small mills is beneficial since the baker cannot be a master of everything, unless they have a big enough operation to support it.
The most important quality for a bread is the process used. If a bread was made from scratch and it was baked within a few hours, then it is a very poor quality bread and it doesn't matter if it is advertised as "made from scratch daily". I've offered some more details about the importance of slow fermentation in the article I wrote on dough and quality of flour which you can find by clicking here.
Then there are bakers that fall in the middle, where they use a combination of sourdough starter and commercial yeast which is actually the majority of "artisanal bakers". I personally don't approve of this method as I consider it cheating just so that their job would be slightly easier (more predictable) and their product would be made shorter/ faster.
The real bread artisans only use the sourdough method to make naturally leavened bread. They use their skill and ingredients (mainly flour) to come up with different techniques for different products and create food that is both delicious and nutritious. This is a very small group of bakers across the country but with the support of customers, it will grow and provide access to more and more people to enjoy real food.