I have never baked before, but I get the King Arthur catalog. While looking through it today I came across a recipe for "guaranteed" baguettes which I'd love to try. Problem is I already don't understand the recipe. It calls for making a starter which is 1/2 cool water, 1/16 tsp active yeast or instant yeast, and 1 cup bread flour. In the first step of the directions it says to "make starter by mixing the yeast with the water (no need to do if you're using instant yeast." Here's where I'm confused... do I still need to make the starter? Or does mean that if I'm using instant yeast to skip mixing with water and simply mix with flour? What exactly is the difference between active dry yeast and instant yeast? I believe I have both of these... one is powder in a paper envelope and the other is in a wrapper. Which should I use for the best results? Also, how can you tell if instant yeast has gone bad? If you have a tried and true baguette recipe would you please share? Thank you for taking the time to read this long post and any advice you can give!