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Baking insights


Substitutes for milk, eggs and honey ([1], p. 14):
1. You can always use soy milk or rice milk instead of cow milk.
2. You can use egg replaced in place of eggs.
3. You can use agave nectar  (from the same cactus  used to make tequila)  or sugar in place of honey.

Why is unbleached flour preferable to bleached, and what are the better brands :

Unbleached flour retains the natural carotenoid pigments that occur in the endosperm of wheat berry and give the flour its natural tint. Carotenoids also provide aroma and flavor to the flour and give a bread a more natural look. In some cases the bleached flour is preferred (e.g for pie dough and biscuits) because it does not absorb butter as well which help to create more flaky tender product.  

Salt... is a yeast inhibitor which is a good thing in breads.

Boules (balls)
The boule is the fundamental shape from which many other shapes can be made;
The whole process of giving loaves the shape is oriented towards creating tight surface tension which allows the loaf to rise up and not just out [what is 'out'?].
The tight skin causes causes the dough to retain its cylindrical shape rather than spreading and flattening. 
The key step in making boules is to press firmly on the bottom crease to tighten the surface. Most common is to use either the edge of your hand or your thumbs to pinch the crease closed and exert pressure on the surface. Similarly, talks about seam (see the pictures there)
Bring the sides down toward the bottom.
And here is a nice description of shaping the baguettes:

How to get good crust on your bread: oven spring and steam

This includes the description of the No-Knead method:
Jim Lahey states in his book, My Bread: The Revolutionary No-Work, No-Knead Method, that he has solved this problem in one brilliant coup, he calls it, “an oven within an oven - the pot.” By preheating a Dutch oven and cooking the bread inside of that, one gets both the intense heat needed for oven spring and steam. The moisture emitted from the wet dough stays within the pot as steam, until you take the lid off after 25 minutes of cooking (with the Dutch oven).

Highly rated recipe :  (add picture)

... The natural starter sometimes is known as sourdough starter ..
By sourdough I mean wild yeast  or naturally leavened dough, as opposite to the dough leavened with commercial yeast. Wild yeast breads have a number of appealing qualities, some related to flavor and others purely romantic and philosophical. "Artesian breads every day". p. 35

 In the United States, naturally occurring airborne yeasts were used almost exclusively until commercial yeast was marketed at the Centennial Exposition in 1876 in Philadelphia, where Charles L. Fleischmann exhibited the product and a process to use it, as well as serving the resultant baked bread.[16]  [In the late 1860s, Charles L. Fleischmann he and his brother Maximilian created America’s first commercially produced yeast, which revolutionized baking in a way that made today’s mass production and consumption of bread possible].