TL:DR; My third attempt at making dutch oven bread from scratch still tastes like flour, although a little less so than previous attempts. Why?
My first attempt I tried this recipe by Tasty. I followed it fairly diligently but found that my dough was way too wet. I probably ended up adding about a half cup more flour total trying to get the texture to seem right. The bread looked fantastic, had a great crunch and gluten development, and tasted disgustingly of flour. It was okay toasted and smothered in garlic so we struggled through it, but it really didn't taste good. I figured the issue was the flour to wet ingredient ratio so I tried a different recipe.
Round two was this guy. I again followed the measurements precisely, although learning from the tasty recipe I preheated my dutch oven with the oven itself, and put the dough straight in once it had come up to temperature. Although the dough was a better texture while working with it, the flavor was even worse this time - we threw it straight in the trash.
Round three I went with the same recipe from #2, but this time I tried bread flour instead of all-purpose. I also kneaded a bit more than last time. The outcome was, once again, a good looking loaf, but although it's less flour-tasting it's still not good by any standards. It's also lost a bit of the nice crunchy shell from the first try - it just feels hard now, rather than crisp. I think I cut it open too early which is why the inside is a bit sticky looking, that's my bad.
I will say my method of proofing is a bit unorthodox - I basically cocoon the bowl with the dough in it inside a nest of blankets with a heading pad. It's winter here in New England USA and getting the dough to rise is nearly impossible in ambient temperatures. I haven't seen any weird cooked textures developing at the bottom of the bowl so I don't think it's an issue of proofing temp, but I can't be sure. The rising seems to loosely match the suggested sizes/timing as in the recipes so to my untrained eye all seems good there.
My other outstanding theory is maybe the taste is due to kneading - I've tended to knead less than the recipe calls for because I get a nice, smooth, elastic ball in only about 2 minutes of kneading instead of 5. Could under-kneading cause problems?
Am I missing anything? It's getting expensive to throw all these loaves in the trash - I need to see improvements soon or my mom's going to stop letting me try!