I used to buy Panera bread regularly and often, too, SLoB
. Lately, though, the loaves seem smaller and more dense. I questioned one of the assistant managers about it a few months back. She said they had a new baker in training trying to form and raise the loaves just right. I also found out that, at least in the case of my location, the bread isn't "made" at that site, it is mixed and assembled at a large, prep-only center that serves the southern part of our county. The bread comes ready to bake on-site. I suddenly became less interested in buying it there.
Right now, Jim Lahey's 5-minute bread book is waiting for me at the library. I'll be picking it up tomorrow and immersing myself in it tomorrow night. Have to do something with my time since I won't have a baseball game to pay attention to tomorrow.