I know nobody cares about cooking, but I'm better at cooking than I am at making models or programming effects
Making bread at home isn't particularly difficult. There's a learning curve, to be sure. But the process itself is relatively quick, relatively easy.
The main thing about making bread that sucks is planning ahead. Even for a basic, tasteless loaf, you need to think about it four hours before it's ready. And the reality is, that's going to be a crappy loaf of bread. You read recipes for four-day baguettes, but who thinks ahead four days, besides Martha Stewart?
The essence of bread is microbiology. And it's not just yeast. Yeast helps, but your yeast is going to kill itself off long before you have tasty dough. It's other bacteria too, bacteria that just hang out everywhere. Lactobacillus is what I've read. These bacteria won't give your bread a good rise like your yeast does, but they don't kill themselves off either, and their poop is what makes bread taste good. It's just that it takes, like, four days to get enough natural Lactobacillus poop for a good loaf of bread. There's no line between sourdough and non-sourdough. All bread is sourdough, it's just a matter of how much. This is part of why bread-maker bread tastes so boring so often. It's not that there's anything wrong with a breadmaker. It's just that with all the convenience of a breadmaker, almost nobody bothers to think far enough ahead to let their dough get a good flavor. (I don't use a bread maker myself though.)
There's a simple technique that you can use that makes all of this a lot easier though, and it's called pate fermentee-- "old dough." Next time you make bread, make about half again as much dough as you plan to use. Then, when you form your rolls/loaves/whatever, separate this section off. Put it in a covered bowl on the counter and leave it overnight. All of that Lactobacillus will keep working. In the morning, put it in the freezer.
Now you have some tasty dough. So the next time you make bread, let this "old dough" thaw, and knead it into your dough. Give it a little extra yeast, because of all your old dough's yeast will have died off. Now, you get your twenty-four-hour baguette (or however your taste runs) without having to plan so far ahead. When you form your loaves, separate out some of the dough for next time. Every time you make bread, keep some of the dough, let it ferment some extra time, then freeze it.
Is it safe to let dough sit around? Yeah, and it's how you make bread. Without germs, there's no good bread. Even if your bread happens to grow something pathogenic-- unlikely, since pathogens like our bodies, not gluten-- you end up cooking bread to a far higher internal temperature than you would something like meat. Don't worry about the germs too much. Germs are like people. Sometimes they suck. Sometimes they're really cool.