Well, I kind of agree with the trial and error thing Mel, but adherance to a recipe minimises the error until experience and confidence is gained, lol.
Some of my best results have been the result of 'making do' with ingredients, or sizes of cooking tins (mmm, double depth brownies....good, but expensive and fattening!) But then all of my disassters are attributable to the same thing! (note to self:If it says whole fat cream cheese it means it! give up with the extra light stuff!)
Sweet or candy making is where i think adhreance is cumpulsory. Making a new recipe by expanding on an existing idea is different, and yes, is great fun and often has success. And the same with baking, where, yep, in many instances you can have a bit of leeway, and experience helps because even if you adhere you could have different flour etc.
A savoury dish I know well, or am really familiar with the flavours and there is no new technique and I don't have the boss coming for dinner, of course I'll wing it!
The secret that you are looking for Master lau is which recipes have leeway and which don't...they are hidden all over the show. Broadly speaking they are rare when baking, rarer still in candy making. You might discover something new, or it might flop.
P.S. My husband does that bread thing and it works for him too...I try I get a dense, fairly stodgey loaf. Perhaps its a knack.