The Fresh Loaf

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GSnyde's picture

Bread And Chocolate for Company


Cat and I don’t throw dinner parties very often, but when we do we are reminded that we are pretty dang good at it.  And now that I have become a semi-competent baker, the parties are even better.

There were several reasons for last night’s event: (1) a business associate (and friend) of Cat’s is visiting from New Zealand, (2) he’s also a good friend of Cat’s boss, whom we had never hosted in our home, (3) he’s also a good friend of Cat’s brother and brother-in-law, who are also friends of Cat’s boss and always entertaining, and (4) we had so much bread in the freezer that Cat and I would have been eating Panzanella for a month to whittle it down.  Oh, yeah, and (5) we like feeding and fermenting friends into a frenzy of frivolity.

I should mention that “having the boss and his wife over for dinner” may sound like a tense occasion (ala how many old movies).  But in Cat’s case, her boss recruited her years ago, already knowing her intelligence, skill and good nature, and his opinion of her has only grown higher over the years.  I suppose we could have messed up her work life by poisoning the boss, but I didn’t even think about that scary prospect until now.  I am conscious of the reversal of classic roles here: the wife, a manager in a big corporation, invites the boss and his wife over for a dinner prepared by the husband (whom she likes to keep in the kitchen). 

The menu included baguettes and cheeses and toasted Curry-Onion-Bacon-Cheese Bread (–-one-sweet-and-one-savory) to start, with a main course of charcoal-grilled butterflied leg of lamb (Julia Child marinade), bulgur pilaf, and Panzanella with heirloom tomatoes and herb fried Tartine BCB (  Dessert was vanilla ice cream, awesome strawberries and Chewy Chocolate Cherry Cookies. 

Cat’s boss is a widely recognized gourmand and his wife was (before kids) a talented professional chef.   So I chose to prepare proven recipes (except the cookies, of which more below).  Having a Kiwi visitor was an opportunity to prove the superiority of California Lamb over the New Zealish variety (I don’t really mean that—the lamb in New Zealand is spectacular, much better than what they export to the U.S.).

Anyway, enough background.  I should say something about baking since this is still, to a large degree, a bread-oriented web site, pastrami and pickles to the contrary notwithstanding.

I have been experimenting with different baguette formulas lately, but the most reliable for me, and the one I like best, is proth5’s formula now known as “bear-guettes” (recipe below).   The dough is a dream to work with, and the result is crispy-crackly crust and tender creamy crumb…perfect as a cheese conveyance.  The formula makes 6 mini-baguettes.  I divided the dough after an hour of bulk fermentation and put half in the refrigerator for 90 minutes, so I could bake in two batches, the second after leaving enough time for the steaming skillet to get back up to temperature.  The results were quite satisfactory, with many oohs and ahs (attributable in part, I’m sure, to the creamy goat cheese the baguettes conveyed).

The main course was also very good.  Grilled lamb and bulgur pilaf are nicely enhanced by a puddle of tart vinaigrette from the salad.  Cat’s boss’s wife—the chef—commented appreciatively on how perfect the bread in the Panzanella was; she thought I’d gotten the bread from Tartine Bakery, and seemed impressed when she learned I’d baked it myself from the Tartine recipe.  As much as I treasure my wife’s favorable reaction to my bread, there’s nothing like unbiased third-party expert validation.  The feast was washed down with a pretty fair duo of 2001 pinot noirs, one from the Russian River Valley (Dehlinger) and one from Burgandy (a Gevrey-Chambertin).  

Then, the dessert.  I’ve toyed with chewy chocolate cookie recipes for years, my favorite being a Mocha cookie with bitter-sweet chocolate, fresh ground dark roast coffee and (I hate to admit) instant coffee crystals.  Somewhere recently I saw a formula for a chocolate bread with sour cherries and nuts, and thought that chocolate-cherry cookies would be pretty good.  So I modified my Mocha cookie recipe to replace the coffee with more chocolate and added dried tart cherries.  Awesome!  Very soft and chocolaty, with the extra chew and tartness of dried fruit. 

After some coffee and music, our guests waddled off into the late night and I’m confident Cat’s job is safe.

Here’re the recipes:

Proth5’s Bear-guettes

(adapted from dmsnyder’s report on proth5’s formula. See further notes at






Wt (oz)

AP flour




Instant yeast

“generous pinch”





Wt (oz)

AP flour




Ripe sourdough



Final dough



Wt (oz)

AP flour




Instant yeast









Total dough




Wt (oz)

Baker's %

AP flour






Instant yeast













                  Mix the poolish and the levain and let them ferment at room temperature for 8-12 hours.

                  Mix all the ingredients except the salt to a shaggy mass. Cover and let rest for 30 minutes.

                  Add the salt and hand mix in a large bowl.

                  Bulk ferment for 4 hours with a stretch and fold at 2 hours. (I cold retarded half after the S&F for 90 minutes).

                  Divide into 10.5 oz pieces and pre-shape as logs. Rest the pieces, covered, for 20-30 minutes.

                  Shape as baguettes.

                  Proof en couche for 1.5 hours.

                  Pre-heat oven to 500ºF with baking stone and steaming apparatus in place.

                  Transfer loaves to peel. Score them and transfer them to the oven.

                  Reduce oven temperature top 460 F and bake with steam for 10 minutes, and bake dry for another 9-11 minutes.

                  Transfer to a cooling rack and cool thoroughly before eating.


                                    CHEWY CHOCOLATE CHERRY COOKIES





2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder    (Scharffenberger)

3/4 cup unsalted butter (1 ½ sticks), melted

1 cup packed brown sugar

1/2 cup white sugar

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

1 egg

1 egg yolk

4 oz. Scharffenberger bittersweet baking chocolate, chopped or shaved

2 cups dried cherries





Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease cookie sheets or line with parchment paper.



Sift together the flour, baking soda, salt, and cocoa powder; set aside.


In a medium bowl, cream together the melted butter, brown sugar and white sugar until well blended. Beat in the vanilla, egg, and egg yolk until light and creamy. Mix in the sifted ingredients until just blended.  Stir in the chopped baking chocolate and cherries by hand using a wooden spoon.


Refrigerate dough at least one hour.


Drop cookie dough (about ¾ of a 1/4 cup measure per piece) onto the prepared cookie sheets. Cookies should be at least 1 ½  inches apart.  Flatten each cookie a bit.



Bake for 12-13 minutes in the preheated oven, or until the edges are lightly toasted. Cool on baking sheets for a few minutes before transferring to wire racks to cool completely.


ladonohue's picture

whole wheat recipes

I am looking for a whole wheat bread recipe that yields a light soft loaf for sandwich bread. 

Also any advice on which wheat flour to use?  I am looking to buy in bulk online and the amount of options is daunting...


ctsabai's picture

Beginner's question: How sticky is too sticky?

Hello all, I'm new both to this site and to baking bread. I have so far made several attempts at a 100% whole wheat sandwich loaf, and yesterday I made 2/3 WW and 1/3 AP pitas using the recipe on this site. Every time I've made bread so far, the dough has been so sticky I can hardly handle it. When I try to knead it, it sticks to everything - the board, my hands, the rubber spatula I use to try to scrape it off. Whether I flour, oil, or wet my hands and work surface, the dough sticks - I have to re-apply the flour or whatever every second or third time I touch the dough. When I made my first loaf, I just kept dumping more flour on to try to reduce the stickiness, and I added so much that the resulting loaf was very dense and crumbly (although it tasted pretty good!). My dough seems more like a soft, gluey mass than the firm, elastic, cohesive stuff I see people working with in the YouTube kneading how-to's I've watched. So my question is, am I doing something wrong with kneading, proportions of ingredients, etc. or is this stickiness normal? If so, how the heck do you knead stuff like this?

breadsong's picture

Schiacciata Bursting with Grapes (and Cherries)

I was captivated by Sylvia’s Sourdough Fig Focaccia, and grateful to her for her recommendation of Carol Field’s book Focaccia. I have it on loan from the library, and I’m certain after the book goes back to the library I’ll be shopping on Amazon :^)

Wanting to make something similar to Sylvia's lovely bread, I tried making Ms. Field’s Schiacciata Bursting with Grapes (Schiacciata All’Uva), as fresh figs aren't ripe here yet.
Ms. Field's recipe makes two Schiacciata, so I made one with red seedless grapes, and one with fresh sour cherries:
 ...bursting with juicy goodness!

I pre-ordered some fresh sour cherries from a local grower (rare! and a luxury where I live) and was able to go pick them up yesterday. Some are now in the Schiacciata, some have been frozen for future pies, and some are marinating in the fridge for homemade eau-de-vie :^)

                                            ...the sour cherries!

Ms. Field’s dough recipe looked awfully attractive, as it has anise seed and Sambuca as flavorings for the dough.
The photo in her book of the grape-studded Schacciata is gorgeous, and the bread's flavor lives up to the photo -
it is incredibly delicious!
The grapes and the Sambuca are a fantastic flavor combination imho. We like the sour cherry version too.
Ms. Field notes another filling/topping option…raisins soaked in Vin Santo. Wow!

I found a similar recipe for this bread on the King Arthur Flour site. Compared to the King Arthur Flour recipe, this dough is based on a 150g sponge, 350g flour in final dough, uses butter instead of olive oil, and has 3 Tablespoons of Sambuca liqueur and 2 teaspoons lightly crushed anise seed added to the dough. Each Schiacciata used 1.5 pounds of fruit.

I took a quick look here on TFL and saw these beautiful breads, also:

Here are some pictures of the layering for these filled Schiacciata:

The dough (one of four doughballs):

Filling (the fruit was sprinkled with Turbinado sugar):

Layering (pressing the dough to seal):

Topping (sprinked again with Turbinado sugar):

After 15 minutes of baking, the breads were brushed with more Sambuca!

Some crumb shots:

....and Sour Cherry      

Thanks so much, Sylvia, for reference to Ms. Field's wonderful book!

Happy baking everyone!
:^) from breadsong

clazar123's picture

ANyone had a Sourdough Jack starter in constant use since the 60's?

I am intrigued. A couple summers ago,at a fleamarket, I found a Sourdough Jack Sourdough Pot completely intact with the tag,instructions and packet inside the pot. I was very new to sourdough and din't feel expert enough to revive it. Now I'm ready. I realize it is old, has never been stored in ideal conditions and who knows what will come of it. But it may be fun.

After reading the instructions, I can't believe how simple he made it (if it works) and wonder if anyone has had a Sourdough Jack in use since the beginning. Does it work to simply remove 1 cup Basic Batter (preferment,I would call it) and save 1 cup to refrigerate as the mother? How long has it been successfully left? I just left my starter unfed for 2 weeks in the refrigerator and it is in very bad shape. Sourdough is inherently designed for frequent use. Interstingly enough, the one starter that is reviving very quickly (I have 4) is one I got from someone who has had it for 70 years!

 Sourdough Jack's instruction for revival is to mix the powder packet with 3/4 c flour (hard white winter wheat recommended) and 1/2 c warm water. Cover(in sourdough pot),set in warm place for 48 hours and it is ready to use. Then all his recipes in the jar have you use the 1 cup of the starter and make a basic batter (preferment)2 c warm water,2 1/2 c flour,1 cup starter. Let set overnight and before you add any ingredients the next day, remove 1 cup and put it back in the Sourdough Pot. Place it in the refrigerator.If you don't use it in a while, stir in the liquid and use as usual. No maintenance feeding schedule.

So does anyone have an old starter or Sourdough Jack starter they keep in this manner?How long can you just refrigerate and not feed? Does the simple overnight Basic Batter method work when the starter has just been taken out of the refrigerator?

SpellBinding Artisan Baker's picture
SpellBinding Ar...

Hello From England :-)


My Name is Kellianne, Kal for short.  I am an Artisan Baker in the UK.  I trained for 4 years as a Boulanger de Practique in Paris about 13 years ago and have been in love with bread ever since.  I recent;y had a very intense health scare and decided to try and do what I love and make bread for a living!   I am of course a French Style Baker, so no heavy duty kneading or abuse of the dough!  The idea is to incorporate as much air as you can in, so that the wild yeast along with the yeast you add gets to work.  I tend to use a mixture of high gluten bread flours to create a similar blend to the traditional French flour I learnt with (which is, I have discovered, impossible to get imported lol).


I am so interested to learn all about the bread culture in the states.  I must admit I am mesmorised by your bagels, dixie biscuits, pies, puddings and treats ... seems wonderful and exotic to me.


Any way looking forward to becoming 'virtually friendly'  Now I really must go as I am doing this rather than my costing spread sheet for the bakery :-(((((  The not so fun side of the business .

Lots of love from the currently sunny UK, Kal xxxxxxx

GSnyde's picture

An Experiment with Multigrain Seedy Dinner Rolls


It’s Summer in San Francisco, and that means soup weather.  And what goes better with soup than a nice tender, wheaty dinner roll with whole grains and seeds?  I’d never made such a bread, but why not try?

I’ve never really invented a formula before, just tried adaptations of proven formulas.  But I didn’t find a formula that looked quite like what I was after: something in between the Hamelman Whole Wheat Multigrain and an enriched whole wheat-oatmeal bread.  So I looked to my experience with enriched whole wheat and oatmeal breads, read a number of TFL entries about how to achieve a soft crust and about seedy breads.  Then I looked at a bunch of formulas from Hamelman and Reinhart, and put pencil to paper (with calculator at hand).

Since I had a very active starter going, I decided to make a leavened dough, with a pinch of instant yeast.

I also had in mind trying the Central Milling Organic Type 85 flour for something besides a Miche.  So that’s the flour I used for this experiment (but I think a mix of 50% whole wheat and 50% bread flour would work fine).

I mixed the levain last night, and this morning I soaked some Bob’s Red Mill whole grain cereal (Five Grain with Flax seed) and toasted some wheat germ and some pumpkin, sunflower and sesame seeds.

My calculation on paper of the proper hydration for this dough was a ways off, presumably due to the thirsty whole grains, and I ended up having to add more water during the initial mix.  Reminded me of proth5’s discussion of the “hydration neutral” concept.

But once I got the dough texture feeling right (kind of like the Hamelman Oatmeal bread), it was a joy to handle.  Having no clear idea how long the bulk ferment should be for this dough, I just watched the dough, not the clock (hmmm…where have I heard that before).  After about 1 ¾ hours, the dough had expanded about 50% and seemed nice and airy. 

So that’s when I divided and pre-shaped the dough into 3 oz balls, waited 30 minutes, and then shaped the balls into round rolls.

They proofed 1 ¼ hours, then baked for 18 minutes, the first half with steam.

They came out a nice golden brown, and they make the house smell delicious.

I let them cool about 40 minutes before I couldn’t resist any longer.  They are about the density of a firm whole wheat bread; nice and springy, but firm; the structure would be good for a sandwich loaf.  The seeds and whole grains make for a nice mix of feel and flavor.

The flavor is nutty and complex, just the slightest bit sweet.   It would be excellent with a sharp cheese or with peanut butter, or just sweet butter.  My wife enjoyed the first taste a lot, and said it would be great with raisins added…and nuts and cinnamon (she has a thing for cinnamon-fruit-nut breads).  That’s a variation I’ll try.

All in all, a good experiment.  The formula follows a few more photos.

Multi-grain Seedy Rolls


Liquid Levain

.4 oz ripe starter

2.4 oz water

1.9 oz Type 85 flour


2 oz BRM 5-grain cereal mix

2.5 oz hot water

Final Dough

14.1 oz Type 85 flour

.4 oz baker’s milk powder

.05 oz instant yeast

6.8 oz warm water

.7 oz honey

.8 oz vegetable oil

liquid levain (all)

soaker (all)

.35 oz salt

1.2 oz toasted seeds (mix of sesame, pumpkin and sunflower) and wheat germ


1.        The night before baking, mix the liquid levain and leave covered at room temperature 10-14 hours.

2.        An hour before mixing dough, (a) toast seeds and wheat germ in 300 F oven for 40 minutes, then let cool, and (b) pour hot water over cereal for soaker, and cover bowl.  

3.        Mix flour, milk powder and instant yeast.

4.        Mix water, liquid levain, honey, vegetable oil, then add soaker.

5.        Pour dry ingredients into liquid ingredients and mix to shaggy mass.

6.        Cover for 30 minute autolyse.

7.   Add salt and toasted seeds and wheat germ, and mix thoroughly, then knead five minutes to medium development.

8.        Bulk ferment at 70 F. for two hours with four way stretch-and-folds at 45 minutes and 90 minutes.

9.    Divide into approx. 3 oz pieces and pre-shape in balls.  Rest 30 minutes.

10.  Shape as round rolls, place on parchment, and proof one hour.

11.  Pre-heat oven, with baking stone and steam apparatus, to 450 F.

12.  Transfer parchment to baking stone and bake 9 minutes with steam, then remove steam apparatus and lower  temperature to 400 F.  Bake an additional 9 minutes or so (to internal temperature of 195-200 F), rotating the parchment for even browning as necessary.

13.  Remove rolls from oven, and brush with milk (if you like softer crust).  Cool on rack for 30 minutes or more.

Submitted to Yeastspotting (


Barbara Krauss's picture
Barbara Krauss

Northwest Sourdough

I baked up two white sourdough loaves this morning using Theresa Greenway’s Basic Sourdough Recipe, with some of my own variations.  The crust was crackly, the crumb soft and fragrant, and the taste slightly sour.  I’m not very used to using a high hydration starter, but converted my 100% starter for use in this recipe.  I was pretty pleased with the results.



Adapted from Norhtwest Sourdough by Theresa Greenway

510 g very active starter, at 166% hydration

397 g water

1 T malt syrup

800 g bread flour

100 g AP flour

35 g rye flour

22 g salt


Mix all but salt for 2-3 minutes on medium speed.

Autolyse 20-30 minutes.

Add salt, mix another 1-2 minutes.

Bulk ferment 6 hours, S&F 3 or 4 times during first 2 hours.

Divide, rest 20 minutes.

Shape and place in floured bannetons

Proof 30 minutes at room temperature, place in plastic bags and then into the refrigerator for an overnight proof.

NOTE: If dough has been very active, skip the 30-minute proof.

Next morning, preheat oven to 500 with stone in place.  Remove bannetons from refrigerator one at a time, about 30 minutes prior to baking.

Five to 10 minutes before the bread is loaded, spray the inside of a roasting pan with water and place on stone in oven to heat up.

Score the loaf.

Lower heat to 475 and bake, covered, for 13 minutes.  Remove pan after 13 minutes and rotate dough.  Bake for another 20 minutes, rotating dough once more mid-way.


Theresa Greenway’s recipe calls for lower oven temps (450 initially and then lowered to 425.)  My oven runs cool, so I need the higher temps. 

She also calls for the roasting pan to cover the loaf for the first 20 minutes followed by another 10 to 15 minutes of baking without the lid.  I prefer a darker crust, so I shortened the steam time to 13 minutes.

By the way, I use the bottom half of the roasting pan because the lid didn’t look tall enough to allow for oven spring. 


JimmyChoCho's picture

What happened to my starter? Help!

I've been baking for just under a year using the starter from Tartine Bread. I've always used water from my Brita pitcher and have had no problems until recently. One day I noticed that the bottom of my pitcher was a little green, looking up online a lot of people seem to be having problems with algae growing in their brita pitchers. The day prior to realizing this, I fed my starter using this water and ever since that day my starter looks like this about a day after I feed it:

A closeup reveals weird looking strands.

I have used the starter a few times since this has happened and it works just fine, it rises and falls after a feeding, smells normal but it just looks like...well this. I'm just worried that I should toss this batch and begin a new starter. I have thoroughly cleaned the pitcher but I wish I would have noticed the green substance before feeding my starter. Has anyone else run into this sort of situation? Would feeding it pineapple juice resolve the problem? Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thank you!

lumos's picture

III - When you are DESPERATE….Baguettes with Pasta Flour


As I’ve mentioned in a few posts , until I can find a magic and perfect solution for preventing a large stock of flours infested with flour bugs, I’ve got to make do with whatever flour I can find in local shops/supermarkets to make baguettes and other French breads instead of using proper Type 55 or Type 65 flour. So I’ve been experimenting on combinations of various flours for a while now since I experienced  the invasion and empire building by flour bugs some years ago and stopped ordering lovely flour from Shipton Mill which I still miss.  For larger loaves, like pain de campagne-type breads, I think I’ve more or less found out a reasonably good, reliable combinations of flours to achieve what I want to achieve, but for baguettes I’m still in the thick of experiments; eternal state of purgatory, between many illusions of possible heaven in sight and crashing down to hell. (Yes, I's only just flours, but my handling skill as well.....)

A couple of weeks ago, my regular Typo 00 flour for pasta making (Organic. Imported from Italy. Can’t remember the name…) was out of stock at my local Waitrose, so in desperation I bought Dove’s Farm  Organic Pasta Flour from another supermarket. The pasta I made with it wasn’t very successful. It produced much softer dough with not much ‘bite’ to speak of, compared to my regular one.  So I was left with a half-empty bag of pasta flour with which I don’t want to use for making my pasta again….. I used a part of remaining flour for focaccia one day and it turned out quite alright, got a feel of how it’d behave as ‘bread flour.’ Still really soft, but it had a nice flavour and quite appealing delicate shade of creamy colour to the crumb.  So a few days later, I mixed it with strong flour to make my regular Petit Pain Rustique with Poolish (based on Hamelman’s formula with a bit of twist…or two), replacing my usual plain flour. It worked alright; more airy and lighter than plain+strong combination, though the crumb structure was a bit too uniform to my liking; more even small holes than random large holes. But it was acceptable enough, and more importantly, it tasted good.

So yesterday I decided I’d try this on my regular baguettes recipe and see how it’d work. And this is how I made it...


Poolish Baguettes - Spiked with Pasta Flour

(makes 2 x 40cm mini-baguettes)


117g  Waitrose Organic Strong flour

8g  Becheldre Stoneground Rye flour

125g  water

0.1g  Instant yeast 

- Mix all the ingredients, cover and leave at room temperature overnight (12-16 hrs, or maybe shorter or longer, depending upon your room temperature)


Final Dough

All of above poolish. at its peak

75g  Waitrose Organic Strong flour

60g  Dove’s Farm Pasta flour

Scant 1 tbls  wheat germ

Instant yeast  0.7g

5g  good quality sea salt (Sal de Gris, if I have. If not Maldon’s)

60g  water 

  1. Mix both flours with wheat germ, yeast and salt (ground fine if coarse) in a large bowl and add water and active poolish.
  2. Mix into a shaggy mess and rest for 30 minutes.
  3. 3 sets of S & F every 20 minutes.
  4. Cover and cold retard in a fridge for 6-7 hours.
  5. Take it out from the fridge and leave for 30 minutes –1 hr until the dough almost returns to room temperature. (It’s easier to work with if it’s slightly colder and less risk of over-fermentation this way)
  6. Pre-shape and shape into baguette shape, as you’d normally do to make baguettes.
  7. Pre-heat the oven at the highest setting, with a tray of pebbles for steam and a baking stone in it.
  8. When the baguettes are properly proofed (It usually takes around 40-50 minutes or so at this time of year….inEngland. Finger-poke test is essential!), spray inside the oven very generously to make it moist before it receives the dough. (or you can place a dish of water when you start pre-heating, but I always forget to do so….)
  9. (Now, you’ve got to do these very smoothly and quickly!) Score the baguettes, spray the surface with water, load the bagettes into the oven (I usually place the dough on re-usable oven sheet and slide it onto the baking stone), pour half a cup of boiling water (yes, you’ve got to put the kettle on when your bagettes are ready to be baked) onto the pebbles, shut the door immediately, turn the oven temperature down to 240 C….and relax for 10 minutes.
  10.  After 10 minutes, remove the tray of pebble stones and, if you think the baguettes are getting too dark too quickly, turn the temperature down to 220 C and bake for another 12-15 minutes or so.


 (Hope you're all kind enough not to notice the ragged scoring on the baguette in the back ...)


A vertical shot….


From slightly different angle....



.....and lastly and more importantly....this is how the crumb looked like. 

 Hmmmmm……well, it’s not as randomly-holey-airy as I would like, and the crumb was a bit too fluffy and soft to my liking (I like my baguette moderately chewy with a slight bite), but the crust was very crisp and lovely and the taste of both crumb and crust were quite agreeable.  This is the crumb shot for the uglier looking one (wanted it to disappear from the surface of Earth quicker). I froze the other one, so I'm hoping I'll find slightly more open crumb when I slice into it in a few days time,  because it gained more in volume during baking. But there's no guarantee..... 

 I think I can explore more possibilities in using this pasta flour for bread making, but I’m pretty sure my desperate journey of the quest for a baguette with improvised flours will still continue for some time….