doughy-delights Recipes

fougasse provençale + rustic white bread

Monday night, Alex and I attended a bris. (It’s okay, I’m giving you time to Google it.) The mohel (go, I’ll wait right here) had a bit of a stand-up comedy act going on — “It’s okay, folks, there’s still five minutes to tip-off!” — as did the caterers — “Pigs in blankets? Is this really necessary?” “I can’t believe you’re eating a pickle, Debbie!” — all which did nothing to alleviate the excruciatingly uncomfortable excuse to see, well, just the tiniest, cutest little man on earth who has quickly shed that, well you know, kind of underbaked looked infants have when they’ve just come out.

snippy, snippy

For a guy pretty much having the worst day in his life so far, he was a champ. Twenty minutes later, wrapped snugly in a soft blanket – this impossibly tiny burrito – his mother tickled the underside of his chin while he slept in her lap. Later, we went with a few others to the tasty Sofrito with two couples that seem to want a baby very soon and another that already has two (enthralling Alex with stories of their three-year-old who implores visitors to “eat his butt”).

“I’m taking a bread baking class on Sundays,” I told the mother. “It’s surprisingly exhausting,” I continued until I realized how ridiculous this must sound to someone who probably hasn’t had a non-child leisure time activity in over three years.

“Seriously?” the dad told me, “I have no idea what we used to do before we had kids. What did we do with all of that free time? We totally squandered it doing nothing! If I could go back, I would just do a million things. Or, sleep for days, yeah definitely that.”

And it’s funny because it’s one of the exact reasons I want to take this bread-baking class right now. Also, make impossibly complicated, not exactly necessary things, like croissants and wedding cakes. I don’t think anything exactly saves you from wishing you’d done more while you had that extra time to, but I think the idea hanging over my head that I won’t always have this absolute freedom we do now makes me want to get a whole lot more stuff in. I just need to work on that whole sleep part, next.

country loaf

This Sunday, we made showy, pretty exciting free-form breads. The first, a fougasse, which totally sounds like a name you’d call someone who cut you off in traffic, involved us frying up 8 oz. of bacon at 10 in the morning and kneading the drippings into the dough, so you know it’s awesome. (I understand this isn’t entirely traditional for this provincial bread, but I dare you to complain.) The shape is one of the coolest parts.


Second, we made an Italian Bread Ring. I minced some fresh rosemary into mine and coated it with sesame seeds. Aside from getting stale quickly, this bread was one of my favorites to snack on Sunday afternoon. This one, too, has a show-off shape and like my beloved bundt, it makes it so much easier to slice.

italian bread ring

Finally, we made country loaves, a total winner. This is one of those breads I’ve always wanted to make because it’s so basic, you can replace a lot of the flour with whole wheat and it’s still tender, and the shapes you can make it into — rolls, leafy knots — are almost unlimited. Also, it’s delicious.

country loaf rolls

All my prattling on yet again about babies and other doughy delights has left me with little room to impart more bread-making tips, so I’ll save them for next week’s final class.

Fougasse Provençale
Adapted from Nick Malgieri at The Institute of Culinary Education

Fougasse, or ladder bread, is typical in southern France. Herbes de Provence include marjoram, oregano, thyme, tarragon and savory. It is almost possible to purchase a ready-mixed version containing lavender and fennel, giving the bread an almost perfumed quality.

2 envelopes yeast
1/2 cup warm water at 110°F
8 ounces bacon
2 cups water, divided
1 tablespoon herbes de provence
4 3/4 – 5 3/4 cups bread flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 tablespoon salt

1. Whisk yeast into 1/2 cup warm water and set aside.
2. Chop bacon and saute until lightly browned. Do not overcook. Remove bacon, place on absorbent paper and blot off grease. Reserve and refrigerate 4 tablespoons of the bacon fat. (Butter can be used as a replacement if your, um, lard quantity comes up short.)
3. Bring 1 cup of water to a boil, remove from heat and add herbs. Steep 15 minutes and add 1 cup cold water.
4. Combine flours and rub in solidified bacon fat until completely incorporated.
5. Make a well with the flour and add salt, herb/water mixture and yeast/water mixture. Form a dough and knead smooth.
6. Place in an oiled bowl, cover and ferment until doubled. Deflate and knead in bacon. Cover dough and let rest 10 minutes.
7. Divide into 3 or 4 pieces. Place the first piece of dough in a lightly floured work surface and gently press and stretch it into a slightly elongated half-oval that measures about 8 inches across at the base. Transfer it to a parchment lined pan. Repeat with the remaining pieces of dough.
8. Use a pizza wheel to cut 2 slashes down the center of the half-oval, and 3 or 4 diagonal slashes on either side of the center slashes.
9. Cover the fougasse with a towel a repeat with the remaining dough.
10. Let the fougasses rest for about 10 minutes, and then gently pull in both directions to make the fougasse a couple inches wider and longer, opening up the slashes. Proof 100%.
11. Bake at 450°F with steam for 20 to 30 minutes.

Rustic White Bread
Adapted from Nick Malgieri at The Institute of Culinary Education

From Nick: This bread reminds me of the rough country bread found throughout France and Italy. I like to shape it into a thick baguette (long loaf) to get the most crust. I also sprinkle the loaves heavily with flour after they are formed – this keeps them from crusting during the rising and also gives the baked loves an appetizing appearance.

2 cups warm tap water, about 110 degrees
2 1/2 teaspoons (1 envelope) active dry yeast
5 1/4 to 5 1/2 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour
4 teaspoons salt

1/3 cup flour for dusting the loaves
Cornmeal for the pans
2 small cookie sheets or a large (at least 11×17-inch) jelly roll pan

1. To make the dough, in a 3-quart mixing bowl place water and sprinkle yeast on surface, allowing it to stand for two minutes before whisking. Add the smaller amount of flour and salt stiffing with a rubber spatula until it forms a ball. Knead the dough by hand for 8 to 10 minutes until the dough is smooth, adding more flour if dough is too soft.
2. To mix the dough in the food processor, place the smaller amount of flour and salt in work bowl fitted with metal blade, adding water and yeast. Pulse repeatedly until dough forms a ball (if dough will not form a ball, add remaining flour a tablespoon at a time, and pulse until ball forms. Let dough rest 5 minutes, then let machine run continuously for 20 seconds.
3. To mix dough in a heavy-duty mixer, place smaller amount of flour and salt in bowl of mixer fitted with a dough hook. Add water and yeast and mix on low speed to form a smooth, elastic and slightly sticky dough, about 5 minutes. Incorporate the remaining flour a tablespoon at time if the dough is too soft.
4. Place dough in an oiled bowl (you may need to use a scraper) and turn dough over so top is oiled. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and allow dough to rise at room temperature until doubled. If you wish to interrupt the process, let the dough begin to rise, then punch it down, cover it tightly and refrigerate. When you are ready to proceed, bring back to room temperature until it begins rising again.
5. To shape loaves, scrape risen dough onto a lightly floured surface and press it to deflate it. Divide dough in half and shape one piece at a time. Press dough into a square, then roll it up tightly. Rotate cylinder of dough 90 degrees and roll up again from short end. Arrange dough seam side down, cover with plastic or a towel and let it rest of 5 minutes. Repeat with remaining piece of dough.
6. Dust pan with cornmeal. Roll each piece of dough under palms of your hands to elongate it. Work from middle of loaf outward, pointing the ends slightly. Place loaves seam side down on cookie sheets and dust each loaf heavily with flour, using about 1/3 cup in all. Cover with plastic or a towel and allow to rise until doubled.
7. About 30 minutes before you intend to bake the loaves, preheat oven to 500 degrees and set racks at the middle and lowest levels. Set a pan on the lowest rack to absorb some of the excess bottom heat and keep the bottom of the loaves from burning.
8. Holding a razor blade or the point of a very sharp knife at a 30-degree angle to the top of each loaf, make 3 to 4 diagonal slashes in each loaf. Immediately place loaves in oven and lower temperature 450 degrees.
9. After loaves have baked for 20 minutes and are completely risen, lower temperature to 350 degrees and continue baking about 20 to 30 minutes longer, until bread reaches an internal temperature of about 220 degrees. Remove loaves from oven and cool on a rack.

See more: Bread, Photo

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52 comments on fougasse provençale + rustic white bread

  1. They all look fantastic, and I can only imagine how much fun this baking course is (despite how tiring it must be kneading multiple batches of dough). I assume that your friends and family are also happy that your taking this course, and it means multiple yummies in the future for them ;)

  2. The country loaves are my favorite. I’d love to have that recipe!
    And Deb, I have to tell you, I think about my free time now and how much I should be enjoying it, because I know one day I’ll be a mom with a serious case of exhaustion.

  3. How funny – I went to a Bris just last night! I had never been to one before, either. I love being a part of cool traditions like that.

    I’m a long time lurker, and just wanted to let you know that I’m really enjoying the new site.

  4. A mohel doing schtick at a bris? Oy…

    The breads look awesome. In all of your cooking-related travels via the internetweb, any recommendations for a website that specialized in one-person cooking kinda stuff? Or so-easy-even-a-single-guy-could-do-it stuff?

  5. Dana

    you speak of the bris kind of nonchalantly. :) Wait til your son’s. You will be a wreck: I was. As strong as I thought I would be.

    Anyway, I agree with your friends who wonder where their free time was spent before children– I used to bake bread on fall afternoons too.I am so glad you are appreciating your free time while you have it.

  6. deb

    Ellie – My friends and coworkers are a spoiled, spoiled lot. I came home with EIGHT loaves of bread on Sunday. I don’t have the freezer space for half of that.

    M – Bwahaha. Babies, bread, dough, snipping, kind of a theme, non? I always used to think that it was really gross and creepy the way that people spoke of babies being “delicious” and “edible”. Then I turned 30 and suddenly, they look like they’d be good with some BBQ sauce.

    Kelli – I’m so glad it’s not just me.

    Carolynne – Thank you.

    Howard – Start with the roasted tomatoes and onions, if you like those ingredients and I’ll see what I can come up with for you. I’m working on something like that, actually. :)

    Dana – Yes, watching the look on his mom’s face was the ultimate in torture.It was really hard not to cry for her. I turned to Alex and I said “I’m not cut out for this at all.” He’s pretty cute, though, I guess that makes it easy to forget a lot.

  7. Hurricane M

    The one time I went to a bris, the mohel told me that he had saved the foreskins of all the babies he had circumcised. I told him that was really wierd, but he said that his wife asked him to do it, so he did, and he just gave the foreskins to her after each bris. After a few decades his wife surprised him with a wallet she had made out of all the foreskins! I thought that was kind of nice, actually.

    Then he took it out and showed it to me. The wallet, that is. “The best thing about it,” he said, “is that when you rub it, it turns into a suitcase!”

    ba-dum-pum! Yes, I stole that one from Glenn Gutterman. Terrible huh. Sorry but the number of opportunities I get to bust that one out NOT apropos of nothing is, like, one. And this is it.

  8. deb

    Natalia – I have the worst sense of humor. It took active, aggressive restraint not to use the seque “speaking of snipping”. Shame on me.

    Jess – Do it! You’re going to love it. It’s like the best-tasting, smelling thing ever.

    !!!! Hurricane M made me join MySpace!!!! MY. FREAKING. SPACE. I feel younger already, like I’m really in tune with the youths of today.

    That is all.

  9. Deb, these breads are amazing, I can only dream of making something as good as these. I think I should start doing a breadmaking class, i’m sure it will be a lot easier than child-bearing and rearing!

  10. Jen from Memphis

    OMG…I think I gained 10lbs looking at the loaves. I swear if you go gaga over truffles on here I’m going to die! (From happiness)

    PS…Deb on My Space…I can see the younger (tweenties) starting to cook already…a new generation of foodies are being recruited!

  11. Maggie

    I’m sure this sounds crazy, but Deb, I think I love you! No, not THAT way, but I think I want to be you when I grow up. (Granted there’s only like a year difference…) You have the best combination of descriptive words and pictures, so I’ve followed this/these blogs for awhile. I tried the rustic white bread this weekend. You probably can’t get much easier than that, but for my first time making bread, I was nervous. But it was perfect! Thanks so much and keep ’em coming!!!

    P.S. I had a Barefoot Contessa weekend besides the bread-tried a bunch of her recipes. They all worked. I think I need to start worshipping her, too. :)

  12. jen

    hi, i know this post is old but i just recently found your blog. i love it!!! very entertaining and inspiring.

    however, i kind of take issue with you speaking of a bris so lightly. i am pretty sure i read in one of your posts that you are jewish, so i get that this is a cultural/religious tradition for you, but circumcision is a really big deal. it is NOT something to be taken in jest. from a secular standpoint, you are removing a functional and useful part of a baby’s body, causing him excruciating pain. NOT funny!!

    and from a religious standpoint (although i am not jewish) this is supposed to be a covenent, a very serious matter.

  13. deb

    Jen — As much as I appreciate your lecture, you leave me a bit confused. I’m not sure if you expected me to be incredibly serious about it even as the rabbi cracked jokes, or rise up in revolt of a religious tradition, but either way, my comment section seems an odd place to voice your stance.

  14. Hello,
    First of all, lovely blog. Secondly, I made this bread (the rustic white one) and it turned out exactly as I wanted it, looked exactly like the pictures and tasted devine. Which means that you give good recipes and I am very glad, because this is getting rare in our days (God, I sound like an old person, and I am not). I might post it in my own blog soon, if that’s ok with you.

  15. I made the rustic white bread and it is officially the best bread I have ever baked. There were two things I did differently. First, I used bread flour because it’s all we had and we are moving soon so I am trying to use up what we have. Second, I forgot the salt. The dough was a perfect elastic mass and I was rinsing the bowl so that I could oil it and let the dough rise in it when I saw the salt sitting on the counter! Foiled again! I dissolved the salt in a bit of warm water and added a sprinkle of flour to make a slurry and kneaded it into the dough as best as I could. I left it in the refrigerator overnight, hoping for the best. The next evening I shaped it into several round balls and arranged them close to each other on a baking sheet. As they rose and baked, they became wonderfully crusty on top and soft at the pull-apart sides. Total success and really delicious with butter. Thanks so much!

  16. ruby

    In your directions for the rustic white bread, you say to press the dough into a square and then tightly roll. How large is the square meant to be? Or how thick should the square be before rolling it? Petrified of making my first loaf of bread and neurotic enough to need specifics!

    1. deb

      Ruby — Use the long length of your bread pan as guidance. You want the width of your roll to be about an inch shy of that, as it will stretch as you press it in.

  17. ruby

    Thanks Deb! I’ll be using two quarter-sheet pans so I will make the squares 13″ on all sides. Again, thanks so much for the quick response:)

  18. Ally

    First of all, I just have to say that I LOVE your site! It brings me great joy to find someone who shares my love of cooking.
    I’m rather new to bread baking and I do have a question for you. No. 5 on your list of things that you learned in your bread class you mentioned that cooler temperatures are better and even suggested putting it in the refrigerator. In your recipe for rustic white bread you also mentioned something about putting it in the refrigerator. What exactly does this do to the bread? Can you actually let it rise in the refrigerator, or does it act more as a place holder, so you can come back to it when you’re ready?
    I don’t know why bread is such a daunting task!
    Thanks so much!

  19. Susan

    I made the rustic loaf a couple of days ago. It is SO good! I’ve never taken a class except through you..and bits of info online, so I adapted this bread just a bit. I made a pre ferment ( I read it improved flavor and required less yeast overall) with a cup of the water, 1 1/2 cups of the flour and 1/4 tsp of the yeast, the night before. It sat on the counter for about 12 hrs+. I then proceeded with the recipe, incorporating the water/yeast (using only 1 1/2 tsp more yeast) then the flour/salt. This dough was easy to work with and turned into loafs that were almost equal (well, considering it’s a home oven and I’m a novice) to similar breads I’ve had from the best bread bakeries in the SF Bay area..and we have some outstanding bakeries here!

    I just knew I could count on you for a good recipe! You choose from the best recipe sources and proven chefs so it gives me confidence that your recipes will not only work, but will be excellent as well. Thanks so much for all the info you shared from your class, it really helped me as well. It also has given me some idea of how to look for and interpret some of the more technical info on the bread making process elsewhere, and put it to practical use. Now go hug that baby, and pat yourself on the back for thinking to do something with your leisure time, when you had it, that will benefit your family later…and rest of us, too!

  20. Hi Deb, I made this bread yesterday and couldn’t be more pleased with the texture and crust of the bread. Unfortunately, it was also bland as bland could be. Rereading the recipe, I believe I found the user error – I don’t think I added the salt – maybe some but not 4 teaspoons (blaming the 14 month old for this one). Is blandness the normal end result for lack of salt? If I make it again correctly and still find it bland – would you consider adding more salt? Thanks for your (or any readers’) advice. Love the pictures of Jacob – what a doll!

  21. That Rustic White Bread is my new favorite. I’ve been intimidated for ages by French bread recipes that tell you to spray the oven with water but this… this was no harder than my basic white loaf and 3 times as flavorful and tasty! The crust is great, the inside is dense without being thick or hard, and it doesn’t take any longer than my usual loaf (just a bit more fussing with the oven). Plus, making two loaves instead of one means my family gets one loaf and my boyfriend gets the other and nobody’s offended when I walk off with the bread. XD I’m so happy with this recipe. It’s my first to try from this website and such a winner, it’s my new bread go-to when I need to impress someone or I get a craving for the good fresh stuff.

    I might use slightly less salt next time, though, mine came out very salty… so I’m guessing Katherine above me will have her bland-bread issue fixed by adding more salt!

  22. Sophie

    This rustic white bread was fantastic! Thanks, Deb! I can always count on your awesome recipes, you are the best. I’ll admit I was a little worried; I tasted a bit of the dough and thought it was really salty (I measured very carefully, which is foreign to me!). About five minutes ago we cut into a loaf and it’s just perfect. Really delicious, chewy, crusty, just great. My husband worked at a bakery for years making bread and said this was the best bread he’d ever tasted!…. so, thanks for making me look good! Shoot!

    I think I might bake it a tad longer next time… get it just a bit darker brown. Total winner. Four ingredients, how simple is that. All the oven steps weren’t difficult either, just took some tending to. Thanks again, this was fun!

  23. MissAna


    Hello! Okay so by now I’ve made a few of your recipes and am a devoted follower. Today I decided after ages of being scared to bake bread (I had one major ‘dough did not rise’ incident about 6 years back and never touched yeast again) to try the rustic white recipe. I found it easy, I was totally put at ease by the recipe and then I went to bake it.

    I the 500 until you put the loaves in, lowered to 450 for 20 and then did the 350 for 30, however when I took the loaves out? They were still dough white on the outside with a great brown crust beneath the white crust.

    Is there something I needed to do to brown the outside? Or something you can recommend?

    The inside was absolutely delicious, regardless. Cheers!

  24. cat

    hi deb- I know this recipe is super old, but I just wanted to say that I’ve been following your blog for a while now, and it’s gotten me through quite a lot of living-on-my-own in college, and helped me to bypass many a pizza-delivery phone number. but THIS! We’ve been so deprived of good bread here in London, and I made this rustic white bread yesterday, and my incredibly-snotty-about-all-things-bread, French boyfriend approved. Not only approved; asked when I was making it again. and then demolished it with a round of chevre. so, thank you.

  25. DG

    Hi Deb. Before I start this endeavor (excited, but terrified), I’d like to make sure I completely udnderstand the directions. I’m a little confused by this – “Rotate cylinder of dough 90 degrees and roll up again from short end. Arrange dough seam side down.” So, after rolling up the square, you turn it around and roll the cylinder the other way? What’s the short end? Sadly I’m very confused. Also, what is seam side down. Sorry if these are terribly amateur questions. Your help is always always appreciated.

  26. Audrey

    For either of these loaves, when would be the best point to freeze the dough, that one might thaw and then bake it at a later date?

    1. deb

      In general, you can freeze it at any point in the process, just defrost it, bring it back to room temperature and pick up where you left off. However, I recently read from Cook’s Illustrated that they tried to freeze doughs at many points, and they had the most success doing so after the first rise. Hope that helps.

  27. SarahN

    Hi, Deb! I’m a big fan and I’ve made many of your recipes, but this is the first time I’m commenting. Like Cat posted above, my European boyfriend was very impressed with the rustic white bread. The first time I made it, we both agreed it was quite salty, so I changed the 4 tsp of salt to 2 and a half tsp. I always look forward to your posts. I like your humor and unpretentious writing style. A lot of blogs make me feel inadequate in my food knowledge, but not you!

  28. Amanda

    Hi Deb – I read your blog religiously, and it is my “go-to” blog when I’m looking for a great recipe. I made the Rustic White Bread a few months ago, and added 1/2 a cup of chopped Greek olives during the kneading process, and reduced the amount of salt. It was fabulous! I’m not one to tote my own horn (I’m from Minnesota, after all!) but it was really great bread. I’m planning to make the same recipe for my book group this Friday evening. I can’t wait to share it with them!

  29. Hey, Deb! I know this is an older post, but I’m wondering if you can give a little more detailed instructions for the loaf folding? I’ve not seen this technique before.

    I saw the comment about the size of the square, so I have that part down – but when I’m rolling it up as you mentioned (I think!) I just end up with a kind of circular mass of dough. Is that what’s supposed to happen before you shape the loaf, or am I way off, here. Maybe I’m supposed to roll the square at a 45 degree angle, rolling from the smallest point?

    I’m sure I’m missing something…

  30. deb

    Oy vey. I’m sorry. It’s been over 5 years since I took that class and I cannot remember, even after reading that three times, how I made that work. Not a good sign! Here’s how I shape round loaves these days: I press it into a square and I fold the square into a smaller square (usually by folding in half, then in half again). I use the sides of my hands to tuck the four corners underneath and continue to pull the dough down and under (tightening/making more taut the top of the loaf) with the sides of my hands while lifting and rotating the round. This is one of the hardest techniques for me to describe with words, every single time I type it up! I really need to do a video of this one of these days. I hope it made some sense as it’s a great, easy way to make lovely round loaves.

  31. Heather

    Wonderful recipes, Deb, thank you! I made the fougasse, and since I’m vegetarian and didn’t use bacon I browned the butter to give it a little more flavor depth, and I also kneaded in about a quarter of a finely diced head of fennel. It was to die for!

  32. Helen

    I made the rustic white bread recipe, but instead split it into three short baguette-style loaves, and one batch of round buns (approx 3/5 loaves and 2/5 buns). Total cooking time required was about 12 mins on super high temperature and another 8 on the lower temperature.

    Now they are calling me to slather them with butter and devour them right away.

  33. Tushar


    I have made the challah and just tried the rustic white bread recipe. Both times, the crust turned out great, but the inside was bready and dense. Any advise?


  34. Jane

    This was my first time making bread, and it was impeccable–soft center with a perfect crust. Thank you! My parents loved the rustic white bread and want me to make it for a dinner party that they are hosting next week. I will also be trying your other bread recipes soon. Any recommendations or tips?

  35. ChemKnits

    I had a friend who teaches Baking and Pastry at the community college where I also teach, gently critique my first baguette attempt. Just from looking at photos, she directed me to these videos about folding and scoring to help improve the shape. It looks like a great series.


  36. mary

    i made the rustic white bread. i had to leave during the second rise and was gone for a few hours and assumed i’d have to toss it. it had tripled in size, and when i touched it, it deflated completely. i rolled it under and baked as directed anyway. it was a little dense but awesomely crusty and delicious! i’ve only made yeast bread a few times now but i’ve found it to be nowhere near as intimidating as i once thought. i’ll make this correctly some day : )

  37. Sarah

    Made the rustic white bread and it tastes great! I have a couple of questions, though.

    1. When you say add the water and the yeast, do you mean mix them together first or add them in together? I alternated.

    2. I started with the smaller amount of flour and didn’t need to add any more. In fact, the dough was kind of dry. I scooped the flour and leveled it with a knife, so it should have been the right amount. When rolled the dough, one way and then the next, what went to the second rise looked lie a HUGE Pillsbury crescent roll! I had a difficult time rolling it to make it long and actually had to squeeze it to make it the right shape and use some water in a lame attempt to close off the ends. I think that was all a function of the dry dough.

    3. The bread reached almost 220 degrees in the first 20 minutes of baking. My meat thermometer doesn’t go up to 220, so when the one loaf started to burn on top and they both reached what looked like at least 200, we took them out. It could have used some more time, but wasn’t raw. I don’t understand, though, why it took half the time to bake.

    Will make it again, maybe lowering the rack one more level so that the top doesn’t burn. It is a nice recipe!

  38. Julia

    I’ve made the rustic white bread 4 times now, and it tastes fantastic (and is pretty easy to make!) and the texture is great. However, my loaves keep collapsing a bit once I slash them. Anything I could do to fix that? Thanks!