The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Hello from Chicago

painperdu's picture

Hello from Chicago

Hello fellow bakers,

I chose the name painperdu because I feel literally lost here in Chicago after spending most of my adult life in Paris. No need to bake over there, really, with a bakery on every corner and one of the very best right down the street, so I haven't done any serious bread baking since I was a kid, helping my mother while she made her Latvian specialties (Ohh, the sourdough black bread or the fabulous rolls she would make for holidays... Now I know she worked so hard at it because she was a lost refugee longing for a taste of home!).

Now that personal circumstances have forced me to leave my adopted home and try to adapt to this strange place, I am homesick for real French bread. I have tried some so-called baguettes available here but they just don't taste right. And they are made from conventional, not organic flour: no GMO's for me, thank you. In desperation, I decided to make my own bread. The results were dismal. When I started looking for help on line, I tried many recipes and tips but I'm still not satisfied. I realize that the flour is different here, the type of water makes a difference and it seems there are countless other variables to consider. So I was very pleased to find this forum. I can see there are many posts to read and they look very promising. Even though I feel reasonably accomplished as a cook, my baking skills are minimal so I will probably just lurk and read and keep trying for now. Thanks to all of you for being there!


LindyD's picture

I know just the group that can help:  the Chicago Amateur Bread Bakers:

Just visit the site and click the "join us" button.  Am certain they will warmly welcome you.

BTW, at the present time there is no GMO wheat being grown or milled in the USA.  That information comes from the Bread Baker's Guild of America.

Since you're in Chicago, visit Whole Foods and try their organic AP flour.  During a recent visit there I picked up five pounds and find it a very nice flour.

painperdu's picture

Thanks for your suggestions!

LindyD's picture

And if you haven't visited it yet, do try the Green City Market.

Go hungry.   Not sure what the winter market offerings are, but the summer stalls are overflowing with wonderful breads, cheese, produce, flowers, etc., etc.

Floydm's picture

I look forward to watching your baking develop.

BTW, have you tried the bread from the Fox & Obel bakery?  Last time I was in Chicago I stayed right down the block and popped by there a few times.  It wasn't Parisian but the breads were pretty good.


painperdu's picture

I don't have a lot of mobility here. Don't have a car and the El doesn't seem to get me to most of the places I want to go, so I depend on a friend for shopping and such. Probably a good thing when it comes to the bread: I am horrified to see that I have gained weight since returning to the US. OTOH, I don't get the exercise I used to when living in a 6th floor walk-up and having to do all my errands every day on foot in my neighborhood. It's a whole new way of life to get used to. I think the baking urge is more emotional (read: homesickness) than anything else - I certainly don't need the carbs/calories! But bread is a pretty emotional thing for many people, isn't it?



Yerffej's picture


This bakery is on Wells St. and the home of Chef Pierre Zimmerman,  my French friends tell me that the bakery is very much the real thing.  This might be a worthwhile stop while you learn to bake.


Jonathankane's picture


I haven't found a baguette in Chicago equal or better than the one I make-see picture below.  My favorite recipe is Anis Boabsa's, he won the Best baguette for 2008 in Paris. Do you know his bakery? I use Whole Foods Organic AP flour. I like King Arthur's Organic AP, It requires buying a 50lb. bag.

I follow the recipe below posted by dmsnyder, he is an excellent baker and has many recipes listed on TFL. The second link is a shaping video by Jeffrey Hamelman.

Good Luck,



breadsong's picture

I know of a Chicago bakery, Floriole, but unfortunately was not able to stop in there when I was in Chicago.
Their website notes they use organic flour. I wish I'd been able to get there and taste some of their bread :^)

Wishing you the very best - exploring Chicago, finding great bread (what good fortune Chef Zimmerman has a bakery in your city!), and for your own baking, as well!
:^) breadsong


homebythelake's picture

Hi painperdu,

            Welcome to TFL.  I knew the exact feeling of being homesick and craving for some food from "Home" (nothing fancy, a piece of bread, a bowl of soup or something from Mom's kitchen).
     You had mentioned that  you did have much mobility yet, but even I have a car, I did not like to drive it to Chicago downtown area.  The traffic is crazy, finding a parking space is not easy, and parking fee is way more expensive than I park my car in "park and ride" area, and using their public transportation system.  Combination with walking, CTA (subway and bus), Metra (Train), you can reach lots of places without any problem. 
   Here is the list from CBS Chicago_ Best Artisan Breads In Chicago ( Hope you can find something you like.

Other than any bakeries suggested from above, I would like to add one more _Argo Georgian Bakery ,it is not far way from Tel_Aviv Bakery). Their flatbread is pretty good, although it is not the french bread that you are craving for . (
I bet you, you will have lots of fun in this windy city once the weather gets warmer.  :) . 



painperdu's picture

What an amazing response from so many people! I really appreciate all the suggestions, though it may take awhile before I can check everything out. I have been using the flour from Whole Foods, but I will definitely be learning some new techniques. My homework is cut out for me. As for the bakeries, it will depend on my ride.

As I said, I probably don't need the carbs anyway ;-)

Many thanks to everyone!



PeterS's picture

You can add Hendrickx's (100 E. Walton) and Delightful Pastries to your list of bakeries in Chicago.

Also, Lauren Bushnell's Peerless Bread & Jam at the Green City Market on Saturdays (2430 N. Clark Street).

If you are looking for eastern European breads (Polish, Latvian, Russian, etc) there are lots of really good bakeries around the city and suburbs (far north side of the city, Skokie and around Midway airport). The Racine Bakery products can be be found in many food stores around the city.