Bread Is Lighter Than Whipped Cream

The headline above is surprising but true, and you can test it yourself: put 1 L of whipped cream on the left pan of a balance scale and a 1 L brioche on the right. The scale will tip to the left. Whipped cream has a reputation for being light and airy, but it’s about twice as dense as brioche.

The demonstration is hard to believe because it violates our expectation that a foam should be lighter than a solid. But bread is also a foam—it is just a set foam. The brioche’s crust is solid enough, but the crumb inside is mostly air.

This simple experiment illustrates that the density of bread—that is, its mass divided by its volume—is less than that of almost any other kind of food. Ciabatta, baguette, brioche, sandwich bread, and other common yeast breads typically have a density of just 0.22–0.27 g/cm3. Whipped cream, by comparison, has a density of 0.49 g/cm3. A liter of whipped cream thus weighs twice as much as a brioche of equal volume.

Bread seems denser than it is in large part because its mass is not evenly distributed: a crunchy baguette crust, which resists cutting and chewing, is 50%–100% more dense than the crumb. The crust is about as dense as pinewood (and whipped cream), whereas the density of the crumb is more like that of cork.

But if the crust is as dense as whipped cream, why does crust feel heavier? The short answer is that the chemistry of these two foams differs. To bite through bread (a set foam), you have to tear apart strong chemical bonds among adjacent molecules. But to eat whipped cream (a colloidal foam), you merely have to push adjacent particles apart.

Intuitively, you might expect that airier breads, such as a baguette, are less dense than loaves that have a tighter crumb, such as pumpernickel and other rye breads. And, in fact, that’s true, as this chart shows.

As it turns out, brick-like rye breads are more dense than red pine—and less dense a kernel of wheat. Scientific insights like this are why we find bread endlessly fascinating and fun.

Gluten: How Does It Work?

Gluten has gotten a bad rap lately—it was practically a four-letter word when we started working on Modernist Bread—but in the world of bread, it’s your friend. As Jimmy Kimmel discovered, there’s a bit of confusion about what gluten is and what it does. Whether you avoid gluten or can’t get enough of it, we think it’s important to understand how it works.

Gluten is a protein found in wheat products. In bread making, it’s exceedingly important. Think of gluten as the miraculous net that holds bread together; it helps dough rise by trapping gas bubbles during fermentation and gives bread its unique texture. Although bread begins with many of the same ingredients as cookies, pastries, cakes, and even shortbreads, it has a completely different consistency. Gluten makes bread airy and satisfyingly chewy—it’s hard to imagine enjoying a chewy cake or a bread that crumbles like a cookie.

Gluten is formed when two of wheat’s native proteins, glutenin and gliadin, come into contact with water. That’s why it’s more accurate to talk about the gluten potential of a particular flour, rather than its gluten content. Either way you phrase it, the more gluten a flour can produce, the more able the dough is to hold gas bubbles, and those gas bubbles are what gives bread an open crumb.

Adding water to flour starts a chemical process that can eventually lead to gluten development. When we grind wheat flour, we destroy the structure of the seed (the cells and organelles), preventing germination. But a cascade of chemical reactions will still occur when the flour is hydrated because the materials that cause the reactions are still present. Gluten development occurs when we add water to flour and let the enzymes work as they were intended.

Gluten Development

From a baker’s perspective, gluten development begins during mixing. The basic point of mixing is to hydrate flour. Mixing matters not because it is necessary to develop gluten; you can develop gluten with minimal mixing (there really is no need to knead). Mixing is essential because it speeds up the hydration process and ensures that water is evenly dispersed throughout the flour.

When hydrated, the glutenin and gliadin proteins almost immediately bind and form gluten. The longer glutenin pieces link up with each other via disulfide bonds to form strong, stretchy units of molecules. These interlinked strands are among the largest protein molecules yet identified. More compact gliadin proteins allow the dough to flow like a fluid, whereas glutenins contribute strength.

Although hydration happens quickly, it takes time to form the chemical attachments that knit gluten proteins together into a strong network. Proteases (protein-snipping enzymes) begin cutting strands of gluten into smaller pieces that are able to make additional connections. Protease is found in very small amounts in wheat flour; an excess of it would cut gluten strands too much and have the opposite effect on the gluten network.

As mixing continues and the ingredients transform into dough, the chains of proteins become more numerous and elongated; they organize into a sort of webbing (the network can be seen in the image above, which was taken with a scanning electron microscope) that has both elasticity (the ability to stretch) and extensibility (the ability to hold a shape). Without this little protein tango, bread would be a very different thing: flatter, crumblier, denser, and less chewy.

The network of gluten will continue to develop, gradually becoming stronger and more complex, up until the dough is fully proofed. Enzymes have even more time to act while the dough rests and begins to ferment. Chains of gluten grow longer and stronger as more and more molecules stick together. During bulk fermentation, bakers periodically fold the resting dough to help align the gluten strands into an even, organized structure, which gives the dough the integrity it needs to expand as the carbon dioxide produced by the yeast and water vapor are introduced into the bubbles.

When the gluten network is strong enough, the dough can be shaped. Bakers check gluten development by performing the windowpane test, which involves stretching a portion of dough in your hands. A well-developed dough can be stretched so thin that it’s translucent. Gluten strands tighten and reorganize once again as the dough is divided and shaped. The tension created during shaping helps the dough expand at a steady rate, producing uniform loaves.

Most of the carbon dioxide production during fermentation happens in the final proofing stage. The largest volume increase comes during baking when the dough nearly doubles in volume in the oven. To expand during both processes, the dough must be strong enough to retain the gas that’s produced. Gluten makes the dough elastic enough that the bubble walls can expand like a little balloon without tearing up until the point where the bread overproofs. When carbon dioxide exerts more pressure than a proofed dough can withstand, the gluten structure weakens, releasing the gas and deflating the overproofed dough.

Other Factors

There are other factors that influence gluten development, such as the type of flour you use. Generally, bread bakers are shooting for an 11%–13% protein level, which will give good volume and texture to a loaf. Protein content varies among flours, and in most cases the higher the protein content, the more gluten the dough can typically form. This doesn’t mean that one flour is better than another; rather, different types of flour are better suited for different purposes. We use lower-gluten flour when we want to make cake, for example, because it won’t form a gluten network that can make a cake’s texture rubbery.

Some wheat varieties, including semolina and most ancient grains, don’t have good gluten-forming properties, which is why they are often blended with other wheat flours in bread recipes. Whole-grain wheat flours contain plenty of protein, as well as bran and germ, which chemically and physically affect the strength of dough. The thirsty particles prevent proteins from fully hydrating, excrete compounds that weaken gluten, and can create microscopic holes in the wall.

Other grains, including rice and corn, can’t form the gluten protein at all, although they do contain other proteins. Rye is a special case. It has some gluten, but not the kind that creates a network that makes for a light and airy bread. Rye becomes bread largely by means of pentosans. These polysaccharide molecules form a sticky gel when mixed with water. That gel—not gluten—is what gives breads with a high percentage of rye their structure.

The quantity of water present also plays into the gluten-forming process. Adding too little water won’t work; the flour must be sufficiently hydrated to activate the proteins that form gluten. Too much water also causes problems, resulting in more of a batter than a dough, in which a gluten network will form but never produce a cohesive mass.

Salt provides more than flavor—it strengthens gluten bonding. Although the gluten proteins naturally repel one another, the chloride ions in salt help them overcome that repulsion and stick together. You can see this change happen within dough when you add salt later in the mixing process: as the salt mixes in and dissolves, the tacky dough firms up.

Fats, such as butter and oils, slow down the gluten-forming process by coating the protein strands, which is one reason enriched doughs such as brioche call for longer mixing times. The coating acts like a barrier that prevents gluten proteins from sticking to one another, stunting the growth of long chains. It’s because of these clipped strands of gluten that we can intricately shape enriched doughs, such as challah. With a small addition of solid fat (1%–3%), lean dough becomes stretchier (allowing it to rise higher) and easier to handle. Fat-enriched recipes, like brioche, can call for large amounts of fat. Fat in these quantities hinder gluten formation and lead to a soft, tender crumb that is more like that of a cake.

Certain inclusions can have the same weakening effect. Any inclusion that contains lots of gluten-killing enzymes, for example, is generally tough on dough. That includes raw papaya (rich in papain) and pineapple (high in bromelain). A workaround is to cook these ingredients first; high heat destroys the enzymes.

Time serves as a general tool for controlling gluten development; the longer the flour and water spend together during the hydration process, the more numerous the gluten bonds will be, while a longer mixing time will speed up hydration by forcing the water into the flour. Time also allows enzymes to assist in gluten development, and most notably extensibility.

Mixing methods also matter. Hand-mixing techniques won’t hydrate the dough—and develop the gluten—as fast as machines. Using an electric mixer can make many breads feasible that would otherwise be difficult to mix by hand, like challah.

The next time you make bread, keep these factors in mind. If you want a taste of Modernist Bread, give our Chocolate and Cherry Sourdough, Portuguese Sweet Bread, and Pork Cheek Hum Bao recipes a try.

Modernist Pizza is Underway

An interesting thing happens when you finish a book: people immediately want to know what’s next. If you step inside The Cooking Lab, it takes only one whiff to figure out what that is. It’s hard to disguise the familiar yet intoxicating aroma that radiates from the oven as tomatoes, melted cheese, and dough bake.

After taking on the world of bread, we’re thrilled to announce the topic of our next book: pizza. Modernist Pizza will explore the science, history, equipment, technology, and people that have made pizza so beloved.

Authors Nathan Myhrvold and Francisco Migoya, with the Modernist Cuisine team, are busy conducting extensive research, testing long-held pizza-making beliefs, and working to understand the differences between different styles of pizza (as well as the best ways to make each one). This quest for knowledge has already taken them to cities across the United States, Italy, and beyond. The culmination of their work will be a multivolume cookbook that includes both traditional and innovative recipes for pizzas found around the globe as well as techniques that will help you make pizza the way you like it.

Why Pizza

We’ve known for some time that we wanted to tackle the subject of pizza in more detail because it’s something we love. It’s an idea that began with the Neapolitan Pizza Dough recipes in Modernist Cuisine at Home and was cemented when we started exploring the topic of pizza for Modernist Bread. Although that book spanned over 2,600 pages, we couldn’t include all the pizza-related information and recipes we wanted to without adding at least one more volume. Chicago deep-dish pizza, for example, didn’t make the cut, but not because we aren’t fans. It became clear that we needed to dedicate an entire book to the subject.

Pizza has so many of the things that we love in a subject. Making pizza takes a tremendous amount of skill, but it’s also full of creative possibility and, quite simply, a lot of fun. The story of pizza is one of science, history, invention, and tradition plus its share of mystique. Despite its ubiquity, there’s still a tremendous amount to learn and many questions that are waiting to be answered.

Historically, what we consider to be pizza originated in Italy. Most people say that the pizza we eat today is the descendant of 18th-century Naples street food that was mostly eaten by the poor. These pizzas had simple toppings: a little oil, some herbs, salt, onions. (The additions of tomatoes and cheese are believed to date to the late 19th century.) From Naples, pizza made its way to the United States, and subtly morphed into what most of us recognize as pizza today (in general terms at least) before being exported back to Italy in its new form.

Today, of course, you can get this Americanized style of Italian pizza in just about any country you visit. Over the course of its journey, what is essentially a flatbread loaded with toppings, became one of the most popular foods on the planet as different cultures developed new takes on pizza. At the same time there has been an incredible resurgence of traditional Neapolitan pizza. After 100 years, pizza from Naples—thin with sparse toppings and a bubbly crust— is spreading around the world once again along with lots of other local styles from around Italy.

From Neapolitan to Roman, New York to Detroit, each style of pizza has its own standards. And just about everyone has an opinion about what makes a pizza good, which makes the topic even more intriguing. Pizza really has become personal. What’s your favorite topping? Favorite style? Favorite pizza parlor? Thick or thin crust? Which flour is best? What type of water? What kind of oven? Is the best pizza in Italy? New York? Or somewhere else? Few foods in this world cause more heated discussion—just ask someone for their stance on Hawaiian-style pizza. To us, these fuzzy lines are part of what makes pizza so interesting. Personal preferences aside, our approach is to try to answer these questions objectively.

A New View of Pizza

There is still a lot for us to research and a lot of decisions to make, but we will stay true to the approaches we have used for all the Modernist Cuisine books. You can expect the same level of rigor and detail in our writing, illustrations, and photography as we attempt to tell the story of pizza in a way that hasn’t been seen before. Modernist Pizza is in its early stages, and although we’ve begun to dig in, we still have a lot of work ahead of us. Although we can’t guarantee when it will arrive at your door just yet (or the size of the delivery box), we can promise that this book will deliver the complete story of pizza along with insights that will stoke your pizza obsession even more.

For now, we’re excited to reveal a few of the photographs that Nathan has taken so far. Making its debut at Modernist Cuisine Gallery, this special series of four images celebrates the fine art of pizza. Each piece of artwork captures ordinary pizza ingredients, techniques, and tools in a brand-new light.

Taken using innovative photography techniques and custom-built equipment, the images reveal a new view of pizza—and we mean that literally. In one suspenseful shot, a pizza cutter becomes a colossus bearing down on a pepperoni pie. It took 500 focus-stacked images to create this single image.

Our hope is that these images will surprise and delight everyone who loves pizza. For fans of Bread Pitt, the series also features a new portrait inspired by the work of Italian painter Giuseppe Arcimboldo. To get the photograph, Nathan worked with coauthor Francisco Migoya to sketch and construct a Neapolitan Man sculpture. Sitting on top of a torso made from a bag of Caputo 00 flour, the detailed face comes alive through a selection of carefully arranged pizza toppings—cloves of elephant garlic, Parmigiano Reggiano, prosciutto, chorizo, pepperoncini peppers, dried Calabrian chilies, black olives, garlic, cherry tomatoes, and fior di latte mozzarella—and is finished with a plume of herbs: basil, thyme, oregano, and rosemary.

This limited-edition series is part of the newest collection of artwork at the gallery, which is available now. For information on ordering art, contact the Modernist Cuisine Gallery team, and follow the gallery’s new Instagram account to see more images from the collection.

We would love to hear from you as we continue to research pizza from around the world. Contact pizza@modernistcuisine.com to tell us about your favorite pizzerias and their pizza. Connect with us on social media to get all the latest Modernist Pizza updates.

The Story Behind the Photo: Bread Pitt

Every photograph tells a story, but there’s also a story behind every photograph: the equipment, the techniques, the location, and the time that went into composing the shot. There are over 5,600 photos in Modernist Bread and nearly half a million more were taken—that’s a lot of stories to tell.

Visual imagery is a huge part of what we do, but we faced new challenges with Modernist Bread. The bright, bold color palette from our previous books shifted to shades of brown and off-white when our focus turned to bread. That meant that Nathan and the photography team had to be even more creative with the visuals, which makes for a lot of great stories. While we can’t share them all, the story behind our all-bread Giuseppe Arcimboldo tribute (internally known as Bread Pitt) is one that we’ve been looking forward to revealing.

The Inspiration

In addition to historical texts, Nathan and the team looked to historical artwork to learn how bread was shaped, served, sold, and eaten over the centuries. Visiting museums like the Louvre and archeological sites like Pompeii, they found clues in art: ancient frescos of markets, mosaics of bakeries, depictions of the last supper, still-life paintings of food and meals. Along the way, some of those works also became the inspiration for photographs in the book.

The 16th-century Italian painter Giuseppe Arcimboldo is best known for painting chimerical portraits and caricatures composed entirely of objects. Some of his “composite faces” were made up of household items, such as books, gilded vases, silverware, tools—even a spinning wheel. But like many artists of his time, the natural world and its curiosities was a source of inspiration for Arcimboldo. He captured the likeness of subjects from a wide variety of flora, fauna, and foods. From a distance, Arcimboldo’s paintings appear to be ordinary portraits. Luckily, they can’t be taken at face value. As you get closer to the paintings, the objects reveal themselves and his subjects transform into surreal faces carefully made up of tree branches, flowers, roots, grains, vegetables, fruits, sea creatures, snails, birds—not to mention roasts.

Building Bread Pitt

Bread Pitt began as a sketch. In addition to being an inspiration, Arcimboldo’s work helped us figure out we could arrange different breads to create our own composite face. After studying the paintings, head chef Migoya began to map out the breads that he could use to make a face, which proved to be one of the biggest challenges of the project. Making the bread, instead of painting it, presented a special set of considerations. Taking shape, size, and proportion into account, he had to creatively fit different types of loaves together like puzzle pieces.

All the breads, for example, had to keep the proportions of a face. Mini-breads, which might lose their shape, were out and the scale of the face became apparent. Its nose, a full-size baguette, put into context how big all the other loaves had to be. The sketch itself had to be as true to size as possible so that he could also determine how many loaves to make.

Facial feature by facial feature, the details of our bread face started to come together. We used almost every shape of bread possible: challah as impeccably groomed hair, bushy eyebrows made of epi baguettes, pretzels for ears, miches became full cheeks. He included a number of French regional breads, thanks to their inventive shapes. A pain d’Aix, for example, resembles a bow tie and a fendu could easily double as lips.
Then the baking began. Over a couple of days he and the culinary team baked over five dozen loaves of bread. During that time, chef Migoya sculpted a base out of a large piece of Styrofoam that he reinforced with wire netting. Once all the bread was ready, he began building the sculpture, using metal rods and glue to keep the bread in place. From start to finish, construction took between six and seven hours.

When complete, the finished sculpture came in at over 3-by-4 feet. Nathan photographed the portrait of Bread Pitt in our photo studio. From the lighting to the dark painted backdrop, the set was carefully built to mimic details found in many of Arcimboldo’s works.

Epilogue

After the shoot, Bread Pitt was moved to our library with other mementos we accumulated while working on Modernist Bread. The sculpture stayed intact for about six months—much to our surprise and delight. But like all things, Bread Pitt couldn’t last forever. Although Bread Pitt eventually became buggy and fell apart, he is immortalized in photographs, the book, and the sketch that still hangs in our kitchen.

Upcoming Modernist Bread Events

The release of Modernist Bread is just a couple of months away—you’ll find it in bookstores starting November 7. To celebrate, coauthors Nathan Myhrvold and Francisco Migoya are hitting the road this fall to give audiences a preview of their book before it goes on sale. Join us at any of the events below to hear new insights and discoveries from Modernist Bread as well as the story behind what is sure to be the biggest, most comprehensive book about bread. Tickets are on sale now.

September 2017

Thursday, September 28 at 7:00 p.m., Toronto

Royal Canadian Institute and George Brown College Talk

In Conversation with Nathan Myhrvold: The Future of Bread

Event location: George Brown College

Tickets and information


October 2017

Monday, October 2 at 7:00 p.m.,  Boston

Harvard Science and Cooking Public Lecture Series

Insights from Modernist Bread with Nathan Myhrvold

Event location: Harvard University

Tickets and information

 

Wednesday, October 4 at 7:00 p.m., Brooklyn

A special event for members of Heritage Radio Network and MOFAD

Modernist BreadCrumbs Live: Nathan Myhrvold in Conversation with Michael Harlan Turkell 

Event location: MOFAD

Tickets and information

 

Saturday, October 7 at 10:00 a.m., New York City

The New Yorker Festival

Nathan Myhrvold Talks with Michael Specter

Event location: Gramercy Theatre

Tickets and information

 

Thursday, October 19, Chicago

Read It & Eat Author Talk

Insights from Modernist Bread with Co-Author and Head Chef Francisco Migoya

Event location: Read It & Eat

Tickets and information

 

Monday, October 23, Brooklyn

StarChefs 12th annual International Chefs Congress

Modernist Bread demo with Francisco Migoya

Event location: Brooklyn Expo Center

Tickets and information

 

Thursday, October 26 at 7:30 p.m., Seattle

Town Hall Seattle

Modernist Bread with Nathan Myhrvold

Event location: SIFF Cinema Egyptian Theater

Tickets and information

 

We have more appearances in the works—follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for event announcements, updates, coverage, and more.

A First Look: New Content from Modernist Bread

There are less than six months until Modernist Bread goes on sale—it will be in bookstores by November 7th—and we’ve hit a lot of milestones since our last post. (We’re happy to report that pages are being printed as you read this post.)

Today we’re sharing a first look at new content from Modernist Bread, including the table of content and new spreads from the book. The most exciting thing we have to share, however, is an excerpt from The Story of this Book in which Nathan answers some of the most common questions we’ve received in the two years since revealing we were working on a bread book.

Read on if you’ve been wondering why we decided to write a 2,642 page book on bread, who this book is for, and what we hope to accomplish with this book.


When I tell people what we’ve been working on since our last book, the reaction often goes something like this: “Did you say 2,600 pages? On bread?”

I’ll concede that at first blush, 2,600 pages might seem a little over the top. But we’ve been here before. We got the same initial reaction when we were working on our first book, Modernist Cuisine: The Art and Science of Cooking, which ran an encyclopedic 2,438 pages. When it was released in 2011, people in the publishing industry told us that a nontradi­tional $625 cookbook would never sell.

Well, Modernist Cuisine broke a lot of rules. And to my great relief, that worked. More than 220,000 curious and passionate food lovers—from home cooks to renowned chefs to staff at educational institutions—decided that the book fit the right value equation. It won numerous major food writing awards and has been translated into nine languages. It’s fair to say it has had a big impact on the culinary world.

Now I am excited to introduce Modernist Bread. It’s just as disruptive, just as comprehensive, just as visually appealing, and just as thought-provoking as its older sibling. In the space of five volumes plus a kitchen manual, we tell the story of one of the world’s most important foods in new and different ways. Through this story, we hope to enlighten, delight, and inspire creativity in others who love not only bread but also the science, history, cultures, and personalities behind it.

Why focus on bread? Because it has so many of the things that we love in a topic. Bread may seem simple, but in fact it is highly technological and scientific—it’s actually a biotech product whose creation requires harnessing the power of microorganisms that ferment. Making bread is so technique-intensive that small variations in the method can make huge differences in the outcome. There is a tremendous amount of skill involved, to the point that bread making can be daunting to home bakers and professionals alike. During the baking process, bread’s simple ingredients go through such a mind-blowing transformation that the product that comes out of the oven bears almost no resemblance to the flour, water, salt, and yeast that went in. That’s just cool.

Focusing on bread has given us the opportunity to explore such wide-ranging scientific topics as the structure of gluten and the physics of ovens. It has given us a window into the minds of the inventors and innovators who have made, improved, and transformed this important staple over the course of thousands of years. Our focus on bread has also allowed us to look closely at the evolution of cultures through the lens of a single food that has spanned so much of human history: bread was the primary source of calories for the ancient Greeks and Romans and the Western civilizations that followed. We also became intrigued by the evolution of our agricultural system. There is currently a lot of nationwide and global concern about this system, after all, and wheat is at its center. As the grandson of a Minnesota wheat farmer, I was determined to tell the story of the role that the underappreciated and underpaid farmers play in our agricultural system.

Starting around the 1920s (but at an increasing pace throughout the 1960s), bread became an industrial product. Giant machines and factories were cranking out millions of loaves of bland, precisely uniform sandwich bread, and people welcomed these snow-white loaves. By the 1970s, though, both bread lovers and bread bakers were beginning to rebel, eventually building what is today called the artisanal bread movement. In the United States, the search for quality led to the breads of Europe—and in Europe, bakers turned to the past.

The idea behind the artisanal bread movement was a great one: bread lovers wanted to increase the variety, flavor, and quality of bread beyond the cheap industrial products that swamped supermarket shelves. Going back to preindustrial bread-baking practices and returning to small-scale methods historically used by village bakers seemed like just the thing to do.

But it can’t possibly be true that all the best ideas in bread baking have already been discovered—creative bakers around the world have made some amazing new loaves. Science and technology are not the enemies of great bread. The laws of nature govern baking just like they govern everything else in the world. Knowing which laws affect your bread helps; understanding technology helps, too.

When it began, the artisanal bread movement was so liberating: it freed consumers from insipid, machine-made white sandwich bread by giving them choices. But any belief system can become stagnant if it is closed to new ideas.

This stagnancy is all the more troubling today, in a world in which bread is under attack from the gluten-free trend and the low-carb movement. Now more than ever, it’s vital to start unleashing the creative possibilities of bread. With all the excitement around today’s innovative, modern cuisine, it’s time to make bread more than just an afterthought. Why not have fun and explore what the latest science can add to the bread we know and love? At the risk of sounding dramatic, bread must innovate to survive and thrive.

We took an approach that is fiercely analytic but also deeply appreciative of the artistry and aesthetics of bread. We studied exhaustively (or at least until we were exhausted!). We researched ingredients and history, milling technologies and dough rheology, grain botany, bubble mechan­ics, and more. We talked to grain farmers, mill­ers, food historians, statisticians, and every great bread baker we could find. Over time, we became even more convinced that our book could offer something fresh and new.

We believe the idea of Modernist bread—bread that looks to the future, not the past—should be celebrated. In these pages, you’ll find our contributions to what we hope will become a movement. This movement isn’t just about new recipes, though—it’s about the way we think of bread from the ground up.

For each of our key recipes, we developed a traditional version and a Modernist version. You can follow only the traditional recipes and find much of value in this book—or you can branch out into our Modernist recipes to explore new ideas. All of the recipes have been tested in and developed for professional and home equipment—you can bake out of this book no matter what kind of oven or tools you have.

Better yet, use this book as a jumping-off point to make new kinds of breads that no one has tried before. Whether you are a strict traditionalist or an avid Modernist, a home baker or an artisan baker or a restaurant chef, we hope that this book will open your eyes to the possibilities of invention and encourage different ways of thinking about bread. We believe this kind of disruption will even help change the economics of bread. (We’d like to see bread go the way of chocolate and wine, which are sold in a wide range of quality levels and price points.)

In short, we believe the golden age of bread isn’t some mythical past that we all should try to return to—the best days of bread are yet to come. [soliloquy id=”18055″]

Introducing the Modernist Cuisine Gallery

We’ve always done things a little differently at Modernist Cuisine. We self-publish so that we can make books in our own, and undeniably huge, way. It’s an experiment that has allowed readers to see food as we do—as something that is endlessly fascinating, powerful, and beautiful.

Our first book, Modernist Cuisine: The Art and Science, broke many of the rules for cookbooks, including how they should be illustrated. Early on, we decided not to photograph food in traditional ways, opting instead to cut kitchen equipment in half, use high-speed video and laboratory microscopes, develop innovative digital tools, and turn ordinary ingredients like grapefruit or kernels of wheat into stunning monoliths with macro lenses. Four books later, the stunning, distinctive images we create are still an integral part of how we share our research and love of food.

The way in which critics and readers have embraced our photography is beyond what we could have imagined. We included small prints in Modernist Cuisine and Modernist Cuisine at Home, and were amazed to discover that people were framing them and asking for large custom sizes. The acclaim inspired us to embark on another big experiment—the Photography of Modernist Cuisine: The Exhibition. We dramatically scaled up the size of our images and made larger prints; some are as big as a full-sized bed. In museum after museum, visitors have asked where they can purchase prints just like the ones hanging on the wall.

Unfortunately, for some time, we haven’t been able to give the answer fans were looking for. We know there are many people who, like us, love to see and take pictures of food. For some reason, however, photos of food have never really been considered fine art photography. Photographs of nature, fashion, celebrities, babies, cars, architecture, animals, and ordinary objects like locks and keys—even subjects that make some squeamishly uncomfortable—are considered fine art. Why not food?

The Modernist Cuisine Gallery, our next experiment, will challenge this issue head on. We are standing up for food as a subject matter because we believe it can be both beautiful and intriguing, and deserves a place on walls alongside other works of art.

We could have chosen to exhibit our pictures in established art galleries, but we decided to take the same approach we have always taken—doing things in our own way. Building our own retail gallery affords us the ability to lavish care on every aspect of discovering, owning, and displaying one of our pictures. When the Modernist Cuisine Gallery opens at The Forum Shops at Caesars Palace in May 2017, it will be the first gallery in the world to focus only on food photography by a single artist – a mission that is unabashedly bold.

The gallery will include limited edition prints of photos by Nathan produced using the highest quality and most durable print methods available.  The gallery’s opening collection will debut stunning new photos, plus a few iconic images that you may recognize from our books. The prints will be available in several frame, media, and size options—including large-scale options for big spaces – available for shipping worldwide.

Las Vegas has become an incredible food destination that draws people from around the globe. We look forward to sharing our photography with new audiences and giving people the opportunity to see the beauty of food on their own walls.

For now, we’re excited to reveal just a few of the images that will be available for the first time. This, however, is just the beginning. We will have more updates, information, and prints to share as the gallery prepares to open its doors.

We look forward to seeing you in Vegas!

We’re Still Baking: Modernist Bread Updates

Modernist Bread has come a long way since our last update in September. In the months since then, we’ve added another 200 pages—the total is now around 2,500 pages—in the process of finalizing chapters. We’re excited to share all that we’ve discovered while working on this book. You can hear a few insights in the podcast, The Eater Upsell, where Nathan discusses the book. Last week we reached another major milestone: finishing the covers of each volume. And we’re happy to reveal them today.

The Covers

Volume 1: History and Fundamentals

As in Modernist Cuisine, the first volume covers bread history, health, and the fundamentals of science for bakers: microbiology, heat and energy, and the physics of water. 

Volume 2: INGREDIENTS

The chapters herein provide a detailed look at the ingredients of bread—from the grains that become flour, to yeast and other ingredients that have Modernist applications.

Volume 3: Techniques and Equipment

Your guidebook to the techniques of bread making. Chapters follow the process of making bread: fermentation, mixing, divide and shaping, proofing, scoring and finishing, ovens and baking, plus cooling and storage.

Volume 4 and 5: Recipes

Here’s where the recipes begin. With more than 1,500 recipes, each chapter is divided by types of breads. We begin with recipes for Lean breads, Enriched breads, Rye and Whole Grain breads, Flatbreads and Pizza, then move on to Bagels, Pretzels and Bao, Gluten-free breads, and Bread Machines.

Volume 6: Kitchen Manual

Our last volume is the wire-bound kitchen manual so that you can easily bring all of the recipes, plus reference tables, into the kitchen in one compact collection.

On-sale Update

This month we also made a difficult yet important decision that we want to share with you: we are pushing back the on-sale date of Modernist Bread to fall 2017. This was not an easy choice for us and we realize that this news might be disappointing for those of you who have already preordered the book.

We’ve always done things a little differently at Modernist Cuisine. We self-publish so that we can make books in our own, and undeniably huge, way. Which means that we don’t compromise on the quality of our books, even if it means moving the schedule out. In the case of Modernist Bread, we made some new discoveries  in the 11th hour that just need to be included.

To prevent any future confusion, we will release the new on-sale date, right here, in the coming months. Those of you who have preordered the book through Amazon or Barnes & Noble will automatically receive e-mail notifications with the new estimated ship date once it has been updated. Preorder policies vary between independently owned local bookstores, so please contact them for more information.

Thank you for your continued support, enthusiasm, and patience as we complete Modernist Bread. We look forward to sharing more news with you very soon.

Gift Guide 2016: Gear up for Bread

This year the idea for our gift guide came from our community. In the months after preorders for Modernist Bread began, many of you have asked us what gear you will need to begin baking through the book when it arrives.

We’ve put together this guide to help you stock up on supplies or shop for your favorite baker. It features 19 basic items that you will find in any well-stocked bakery, as well as other helpful tools. Many of these selections are inexpensive like the $39 cast-iron cooker that beautifully bakes bread in home ovens, but there are also a few splurges on the list, which we think are wise investments.

The Basics

1. Baking pans

baking-pan1

Why it’s a bakery essential: Simple metal loaf pans can be used for proofing as well as baking. They keep proofing dough in place so that it can be easily moved. Pans also mold proofing dough and help hold the shape.

Features to look for: You need to have a few basic pans in several sizes so that you can choose one that is appropriate for the bread you want to prepare. The dimensions of the pans we recommend below are the ones we most frequently use for our sandwich breads, brioche, and gluten-free breads. Although baking pans come in a variety of shapes, there’s generally no need to buy specialty pans unless you want to make a bread in its traditional shape. The material or thickness of the pans aren’t terribly important, but you will want a durable nonstick coating, which does make it easier to quickly remove hot loaves and reduce cleanup.

Price range: $10–$50

Start your search with:

Commercial II Non-Stick 1 lb Loaf Pan (21.59 cm by 11.43 cm by 6.99 cm / 8.5 in by 4.5 in by 2.75 in) by Chicago Metallic

Aluminized Steel 1.25 lb Loaf Pan with non-stick Americoat coating (22.86 cm by 12.7 cm by 7 cm / 9 in  by 5 in  by 2.75 in) by USA Pans

Aluminized Steel 1.5 lb Pullman Pan with non-stick silicon glaze (33 cm by 10 cm by 10 cm / 13 in by 4 in by 4 in) by Focus Foodservice

Custom Baking Pans (for artisanal bakeries) by Lloyd Pans

2. Baskets

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Why it’s a bakery essential: Some of the most common items found in a bakery are wicker or cane baskets (bannetons or brotforms), which are used to hold and mold shaped pieces of dough during final proofing. The baskets are seasoned with flour, which, over time, serves as a nonstick surface.

Features to look for: Proofing baskets come in many different sizes and forms meant for specific shapes. It’s good to have go-to baskets for standard shapes like boule (round) and bâtard (oval), but you can also find baskets to mold dough into special shapes such as couronne bordelaise (a Bordeaux-style crown), triangle, double boule, and others.

Lining is another important consideration for choosing baskets. Some baskets have no lining and will imprint your dough with the pattern of the wicker; other versions are linen-lined. We recommend unlined baskets for doughs with a relatively firm consistency. Lined baskets work well for both high-hydration and drier doughs because the flour adheres to the linen and makes the dough easier to unmold. Baskets with removable linen covers are the most versatile options, giving you the benefits of both.

Price range: $15–$40

Start your search with:

10-inch Wicker Boule Basket with Removable Linen Liner (for 800 – 1000 g of dough) from San Francisco Baking Institute

8-inch Wicker Boule Basket with Removable Linen Liner (for 500 – 750 g of dough) from San Francisco Baking Institute

Coiled Bâtard Basket (for 500 – 650 g of dough) from San Francisco Baking Institute

3. Cast Iron Cooker

Lodge Combination Cast Iron Cooker

Why it’s a bakery essential: Baking in a pot is hands down our favorite method for making bread in a home oven. The pot’s base and lid create a tightly enclosed environment for the proofed and scored dough. Cast iron absorbs heat well and retains it even better, helping to mitigate the temperature drop when you open the oven door.

Features to look for: When it comes to these pots, you don’t have to spend an exorbitant amount. We’ve tested a lot of cookware, but our favorite is the simple cast-iron combo cooker. You can bake extraordinary bread at home with this inexpensive, multipurpose pot. The cooker actually is a two-piece set that consists of a Dutch oven and a skillet that is repurposed as a lid. For bread, we use the skillet as the base and the Dutch oven as the lid, which makes transferring dough less complicated. We find that 800 g of dough fits perfectly in most three-quart cast-iron combination cookers.

Price range: $39

Start your search with:

Cast Iron Combination Cooker by Lodge

4. Plastic tubs

Why it’s a bakery essential: Storage is an important consideration for bakers, and clear plastic tubs are the storage bins of choice. Up for almost any stowage task, these bins come in a range of sizes; they make it easy to keep an eye on the contents inside; and they stack much like nesting dolls when they aren’t being used. Long rectangular storage boxes can be used to hold fermenting dough, while preferments, ingredients, and old dough are often stored in square versions. Tall tubs make great vessels when weighing large quantities of water—some can even transform into water bath containers when cooking sous vide.

Features to look for: Clear plastic bins with airtight lids are useful to have in a variety of sizes. The Cambro brand is so habitually used that the name is practically a generic term for the tubs in professional kitchens. Another kitchen vocabulary word to know is ‘lexan’, which is another name for the durable polycarbonate sheets that are often used to make commercial storage boxes, pans, and containers for food.

Price range: $9–$40

Start your search with:

Camwear Polycarbonate Food Storage Box (17.98 L / 4.75 gal) by Cambro

Camwear Polycarbonate Food Storage Box (33.12 L / 8.75 gal) by Cambro

Camwear Polycarbonate Square Plastic Food Container (in assorted sizes) by Cambro

5. Plastic bags or tarps

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Why it’s a bakery essential: They may not make the most exciting gift, but plastic bags and tarps are essential tools for bakers. They’re used to cover dough to keep it from drying out as it rests on a worktable.

Features to look for: More likely than not, you already have suitable covers in your pantry. Clean trash bags work, however we prefer eco-friendly transparent compostable bags.

Price range: $5–$16

Start your search with:

Heavy Duty Compostable Trash Bags (in assorted sizes) by Stout

6. Thermometer

ThermoWorks Mk4 Digital Thermometer

Why it’s a bakery essential: Digital thermometers are indispensable tools, and any baker will benefit from having one in their pocket. Small changes in temperature can make all the difference in cooking and baking, which is why we measure it as accurately as possible. A good digital thermometer can be used to improvise a water bath to cook sous vide, and you can also calibrate your home oven with an oven-safe probe.

Features to look for: One of our favorite digital thermometers is the Thermapen Mk4. It’s extremely accurate, has a slender probe, and can connect to a Type K Thermocouple. Home bakers will also want a basic oven thermometer.

Price range: $5–$80

Start your search with:

Thermapen Mk4 by ThermoWorks

Commercial Stainless Steel Oven Monitoring Thermometer by Rubbermaid

7. Digital Scale

Why it’s a bakery essential: This is the piece of equipment we recommend most emphatically for all bakers. If you have been measuring ingredients only by the cup and teaspoon, now is a great time to buy a good scale to begin applying more precision to your recipe measurements. Some high-capacity kitchen scales display baker’s percentages as well as grams, which is another benefit. A super-precise fine weight scale is the best way to measure tiny quantities of ingredients like yeast or salt.

Features to look for: Bakers should really have two scales: a relatively high-capacity kitchen scale and a fine weight pocket scale for measuring small quantities. The standard scale should be accurate to one decimal place and should have the capacity to weigh double the amount of our standard recipes plus the weight of the mixing bowl. For larger quantities of dough, look for scales that can hold even more weight. The fine weight scale should be accurate to .01 g. If you don’t want to spend a lot, an inexpensive 200 g pocket-sized version will work just fine. All-purpose scales exist that will cover both these requirements, but they are expensive.

Price range: $15–$115

Start your search with:

Baker’s Kitchen Scale (8,000 g capacity) by My Weigh

Salter 405 General Purpose Scale (6,000 g or 15,000 g capacity) by Salter Brecknell

Scout Pro Portable Electronic Balance (200 by .01 g) by Ohaus

Digital Gram Pocket Scale (200 by .01 g) by American Weigh Scale

8. Timers

ThermoWorks Extra Big and Loud Timer

Why it’s a bakery essential: Baking bread is a time-intensive process that also requires time management skills. In addition to telling you when to remove your bread from the oven, digital timers will help you keep track of dough as it ferments and proofs, especially when you’re managing several doughs and kitchen tasks at a time.

Features to look for: Timers should be easy to use, with loud alarms that can be heard across a noisy bakery or from another room. Have several basic timers on hand for juggling tasks.

Price range: $10–$30

Start your search with:

Extra Big and Loud Timer by ThermoWorks

9. Bench knife (bench scraper)

Bench Knife

Why it’s a bakery essential: A bench knife, also referred to as a bench scraper, is another inexpensive but invaluable tool highly recommended. Even though there are several options available for mechanically dividing dough, a bench knife and a scale work the best.

Features to look for: We prefer a sharp metal version for cleanly cutting dough, lifting sticky dough, and scraping dough residue off the table. Plastic ones will get the job done, but they can make cutting and scraping dough more difficult because they are generally thicker and less sharp than metal scrapers.

Price range: $10–$20

Start your search with:

Stainless Steel Dough Scraper with Polypropylene Handle by Dexter-Russell

Flexible Dough and Bowl Scrapers (set of four) by Prepatize

10. Lame

 

Why it’s a bakery essential: Our go-to tool for scoring dough is a classic: the lame. A lame is a sharp razor blade held in place by a handle. The blades are cheap and can be replaced easily, which isn’t necessarily true of other cutting tools, such as a paring knife.

Features to look for: Lames come in several styles. Basic lame handles are often made from metal or plastic. Look for razor blades that are thin and flexible as many lames are designed to make the blade curve. Disposable versions have a blade that can’t be removed or sharpened. Professional bakers generally avoid disposable lames because they need to replace the lame blades often (usually at the end of the day). A wood-handled lame is an attractive showpiece with a heft that makes it easier for the blade to slice the dough. The drawback is that it can be pricey and can’t make a razor blade curve.

Price range: $6–$40

Start your search with:

Stainless Steel Lame from San Francisco Baking Institute

Professional Disposable Lame (pack of 5) by Scaritech

Hand-Crafted Walnut Wood-Handled Lame by Zatoba

Stainless Steel Double Edge Razor Blades by Personna

More Tools

11. Baking steel and baking stone

Why we recommend it: A baking steel or stone is one of our favorite tools for making pizza and flatbreads, including naan and pita, and pan loaves. Steel provides enough thermal mass to replicate the environment of a wood-fired oven, allowing you to rapidly produce Neapolitan-style pizza in your own kitchen. We prefer using a stone to bake pan loaves and other breads because steel tends to scorch the bottom of larger loaves.

Price range: $50–$120

Start your search with:

Modernist Cuisine Special Edition Baking Steel by Baking Steel

Rectangular Baking Stone (35.56 cm by 41.91 cm by 1.27 cm / 14 in by 16 in by .5 in) by Old Stone Oven

12. Pastry brushes

Why we recommend it: Any bakery or kitchen can benefit from having several pastry brushes. Reserve different brushes for specific purposes—for instance, designating one for cooking sugar and another for egg washes.

Features to look for: We like to use pastry brushes with natural or fine synthetic bristles over the thicker silicone brushes that leave track marks. Synthetic bristles are more hygienic and can be incredibly soft, which makes them a good choice for egg washing more delicate doughs. Art or home improvement stores often have great options—paintbrushes that meet these specifications can easily double as pastry brushes.

Price range: $6–$15

Start your search with:

Restore Flat Synthetic Premium Mottler Brush (assorted sizes) by Global Art Materials

13. Stand Mixer

Why we recommend it: We use a stand mixer for most home baking and also recommend it for small restaurant production. It’s the biggest splurge on our list, but a good stand mixer is a gift that will make any baker happy. A stand mixer is a small version of a planetary mixer that can comfortably sit on any work surface, occupying minimal space. They have the same mixing attachments as well—most come with a hook, paddle, and whip.

Stand mixers are incredibly versatile countertop tools. They can be used for much more than mixing, thanks to additional attachments that can use the spinning motor to sheet pasta dough, grind meat, mill grains into flour, chop vegetables, and even make ice cream.

Features to look for: A stand mixer can be a big investment, so look for models that have a strong motor, which is important for making drier doughs, and a broad range of speed settings, from very slow to very fast. A five-quart consumer stand mixer will work for home bakers who are making up to a kilo of dough—the minimum in most of our recipes—at a time. But beyond that, we find that these mixers tend to hop around the table and need more power. We recommend investing in a commercial stand mixer with a sturdy base if you plan to frequently make seven quarts of dough or more.

The Ankarsrum mixer is not very common, but we like using it for our gluten-free breads in particular and for mixing paste-like doughs, such as 100% rye breads. It has one arm that performs the mixing and another that scrapes the spinning bowl, making for a very efficient mix. The design makes it easy to pour ingredients in the bowl, which is unobstructed by the motor housing that most stand mixers have.

The flat solid base won’t dance around the counter, either.

Price range: $250–$900

Start your search with:

Original AKM S 6220 Stand Mixer by Ankarsrum

Professional 5 Plus Series 5-Quart Stand Mixer by KitchenAid

7-Quart Commercial Countertop Stand Mixer with Guard by Vollrath

10-Quart Gear Driven Commercial Planetary Stand Mixer with Guard by Avantco

15. Bench brush

Why we recommend it: Messes are hard to avoid when you bake bread. A bench brush is a small investment, but it will help you to quickly clean surfaces between handling dough. These special hand brooms offer an easy way to sweep flour and bits of dough away from your work space.

Price range: $8–$20

Start your search with:

Wood Handle Counter Duster with Flagged Silver Polystyrene Bristles by Weiler

16. Water spritzer

Why we recommend it: Bakers use spritzers to keep dough moist after it has been mixed. A light mist of water will prevent the dough’s surface from becoming tough and dry while it is exposed to air. The spritzer itself is basic, but remember to change the water in it at least once a week.

Features to look for: Although any spritzer is up for the task, clear bottles allow you to keep an eye on the liquid inside.

Price range: $7–$15

Start your search with:

Clear Plastic Spray Bottle by Soft ‘N Style

17. Couche

couche

Why we recommend it: A couche is a swatch of plain linen cloth that sits between the dough and a flat surface; the cloth is creased to cradle the dough it holds. Couches absorb excess moisture from dough during the proofing process so that the board stays relatively dry, making it easier to slide the dough off surfaces and keeping portioned dough from touching other pieces or losing its shape as it expands.

Features to look for: You can purchase prepackaged options on many sites, however, we like to buy our couches by the yard to specifically suit our needs.

Price range: $15–$30

Start your search with:

Linen Couche (by the yard) from San Francisco Baking Institute

Custom Proofing Cloths (for artisanal bakeries) by Cleanbake

18. Peels and Transfer Boards

Why we recommend it: Peels and paddles are used to transfer dough onto a baking surface.

Features to look for: A single average-sized paddle is sufficient for some bakers, but it’s also helpful to have larger peels if you plan on making large quantities of bread. Metal peels are better than wooden ones for flatbreads and pizzas because they are thinner and can easily slide under the crusts.

The transfer board is the best all-purpose piece of equipment you can use to transfer dough. They come in a number of shapes and sizes, but we use only the long thin ones that are intended for baguettes because they also work for practically any other dough shape.

Price range: $16-$70

Start your search with:

Super Peel in Polymer-Sealed White Ash by EXO

“Big 16” 16-Inch Super Peel with Aluminum Blade and Black Cherry Handle by EXO

Aluminum Pizza Peel with Wooden Handle (assorted sizes) by Kitchen Supply

Baguette Transfer Board by Breadtopia

19. Wooden boards and sheet pans

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Why we recommend it: In a bakery, wooden boards or the back of sheet pans are used for proofing dough, especially high-hydration doughs that are too wet to hold their shape. Both are lined with a floured couche to prevent the dough from spreading out.

Features to look for: After use, wooden boards must be dried out quickly and completely to decrease the risk of contamination and prevent warping. If you prefer sheet pans, it’s worth having full-size, half-size, and quarter-size sheet pans as well as wire racks that fit on top of them.

Price range: $10–$30

Start your search with:

Aluminum Full, Quarter, and Half Sheet Pans by Lloyd Pans

Poplar Wooden Proofing Board (45.72 by 66.04 cm / 18 by 26 in) by BakeDeco

20. Serrated knives

Why we recommend it: Beyond a general-purpose chef’s knife and a paring knife, bakers will benefit from a few good serrated knives. A serrated paring knife is good for smaller items; a long version is best for cutting big pieces of bread; and an offset one is helpful for chopping chocolate and nuts. An electric knife, the sort typically used only for annual turkey carving, can get additional use when employed to slice bread. The serrated blade does all of the work, making it easy to carve off a perfect slice in a single motion.

Features to look for: Many serrated knives do a fine enough job of cutting bread without costing a lot of money. Just make sure the knife is very sharp and has long, pronounced teeth.

Price range: $18–$130

Start your search with:

High-Carbon Stainless Steel 10-inch Serrated Bread Knife with Walnut Handle by Chicago Cutlery

16 Gauge Stainless Steel 14-inch Serrated Bread Knife by Fat Daddio’s

Damascus Bread Knife by Kasumi

Stainless Steel Electric Knife with Wood Block by Cuisinart

21. Personalized Tools

Why we recommend it: Personalized tools are thoughtful gift ideas for experienced bakers who want to put their own stamp on bread recipes. We’ve had several tools, including silicon molds, pans, and rolling pins, custom made for us so that we could mold dough into special shapes or apply it as a decoration. Silicon molds come in many sizes and shapes, sometimes with elaborate detail, or you can have them custom-made with a unique design, name, or bakery logo. An embossed rolling pin engraved with patterns or text is another way bakers can make their mark. We use our own personalized pins to roll out crackers.

Start your search with:

Custom and Decorative Silicon Molds by Chicago School of Mold Making

Personalized Rolling Pin by Valek Rolling Pins

Books and Calendars

22. Modernist Bread: The Art and Science

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All signs indicate that bread is going to be big in 2017. In May, sourdough bread made its debut as a rising star in Google’s 2016 Food Trends Report. Their data confirms our own observations over the last few years—there is a new thirst for knowledge about bread making. We believe that the greatest age of bread is about to begin, and Modernist Bread will give all bakers the tools they need to be part of this revolution. It’s the ultimate gift for any baker who is ready to make better bread.

List Price: $625

Modernist Bread: The Art and Science

23. 2017 modernist Wall Calendars

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The Modernist Bread and Modernist Cuisine 2017 wall calendars make fantastic gifts for curious cooks, passionate bakers, and food photographers. We pulled together some of our favorite images from each of our books to create our new calendars. Each month reveals food from a different perspective, as well as the story behind the photo. We can’t think of a better way to organize meal planning, keep track of a new sourdough starter, record New Year’s resolution progress, or count down to the day Modernist Bread ships.

The Modernist Bread calendar is the perfect way to let someone know that they have a book coming their way this spring. While supplies last, they are essentially free when you buy Modernist Bread from Amazon. For more details on how to redeem this special offer, click here. You will also receive the calendar for free, for a limited time, if you preorder the book through Kitchen Arts & Letters.

Price: $14.95

Modernist Bread 2017 Wall Calendar

Modernist Cuisine 2017 Wall Calendar

Modernist Bread preorders begin today!

Last spring we revealed news about the scope and size of our upcoming book, Modernist Bread. With five full volumes and a kitchen manual, this enormous tome will be almost the exact size (and weight) of Modernist Cuisine: The Art and Science of Cooking. We were thrilled by the tremendous response we received. We heard from many of you, and the top question was “When can I order the book?” The answer is: now.

Modernist Bread: The Art and Science Book Trailer from Modernist Cuisine on Vimeo.

Beginning today, you can preorder Modernist Bread on through Amazon.com, Barnesandnoble.com, Phaidon.com, Amazon.ca, Amazon.co.uk, Bol.com, and Booktopia.com.au. You can also order the book through local bookstores that work with Ingram Content Group.

Like our first book, Modernist Bread retails for $625.00 USD and spans more than 2,300 pages. It’s time to clear space on your bookshelves, stock up on flour, and practice team-lifting the delivery box with a friend or loved one—we anticipate that Modernist Bread will arrive in May 2017 with our first foreign language editions in the queue for 2018.

We know that some of you have been following the progress of this project for some time, so we wanted to celebrate the countdown with a taste of what you will discover this May. To mark the arrival of the next bread revolution, we have created a companion 2017 wall calendar that features 14 of Modernist Bread’s most intriguing photos, which, we hope, will inspire you with the hidden beauty of bread. And now when you preorder Modernist Bread on Amazon.com US, you will receive the calendar for free while supplies last—it’s a tongue-in-cheek way to thank you for waiting so patiently.

While the Modernist Bread calendar offers a sneak peek of our newest photographs, we’re celebrating the outset of our photographic journey with the 2017 Modernist Cuisine calendar, a collection of the bold images that started it all. A snapshot of our readers’ favorite photos, it takes the book’s most captivating images off the pages, placing them onto your wall. In addition, when you purchase the Modernist Cuisine tome, you will receive the companion calendar for free, while supplies last.

Both 12-month calendars include the story behind each photo, as well as listing holidays and foodie celebrations in the United States and Canada. Retailing for $14.95, the calendars will ship in October so that you’ll have them before the winter holidays.

This isn’t the only news we have to share—read on for more details about Modernist Bread including a preview of the volumes, the new publication date and website, and what our team has been up to since our last post.

More pages, recipes, and answers to discover

Initially we thought that Modernist Bread was going to be a smaller book . . .

The process of transforming wheat into flour and then flour into bread is scientific, technological, artistic, and fairly magical. The appearance of a steak changes when you grill it, but it still resembles its raw form. Bread, however, looks nothing like the raw ingredients that went into it. Naturally, we had a lot of questions when we started this book. As we learned more, our discoveries inspired new questions, techniques, and recipes. Bread is even more complex and intriguing than we could have imagined—and so our book has grown. Thankfully, we aren’t known for making small books.

For Modernist Bread, that means telling the complete story of bread in a way that has never been done before. Since our last post in April, we have performed more than 100 additional experiments, created more than 200 recipes, and taken hundreds of photos. In all, we’ve added over 300 pages to the book. We continue to find more historical texts and freshly published studies by scientists who study bread, grains, and nutrition. We don’t want to leave out these incredible insights or the ideas that they have inspired, so we gave ourselves more time to make the book we want to make.

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Although Modernist Bread will now be arriving on shelves in May 2017—later than we originally anticipated—it will be gorgeously illustrated, including modern scientific research and rigorously tested techniques and recipes. We have collaborated and consulted with 75 industry leaders around the world, including historians Jim Chevallier and Steven Kaplan, grain experts Steven Jones and Maria Speck, and bakers Ken Forkish, Richard Miscovich, Peter Reinhart, and Didier Rosada. During book production we continue to seek new answers, updating and improving the manuscript until the files need to fly off to the printer.

For now, we’re excited to share how the book will be organized. Like Modernist Cuisine, the first volume covers bread history, health, and the fundamentals of science. But that’s where the similarities end. The chapters in volume two provide a detailed look at the components of bread—from the grains that become flour to ingredients that have Modernist applications—followed by the third volume, a guidebook to the techniques of bread making. The final volumes are devoted to our recipes (as we said, we’ve developed quite a collection). These chapters span classic breads and Modernist interpretations, as well as recipes for pretzels, bao, flatbreads, and avant-garde loaves. And, of course, a book about bread would not be complete without all the wonderful condiments we love to smear and pile on bread. You can expect a new look for the casing of Modernist Bread too—the set will be housed in a sleek stainless steel case instead of clear acrylic. We’re looking forward to revealing the final design of the case and all of our potential covers in the coming year.

New challenges and surprises— our photographic journey continues

Photography is an incredibly important element for all our titles. It shows the story of food. With Modernist Cuisine, our photography team faced the challenge of showing ingredients and the science of cooking from a new, intriguing perspective. Taking inspiration from the Modernist culinary movement, we developed and adapted techniques not normally used in food photography—the result is a distinctive visual style that celebrates the power of food.

For Modernist Bread, our photography team has faced a new set of challenges. With a single-subject book of this magnitude, we’re figuring out how to show bread making from different perspectives—our illustrations need to be fresh and engaging through the very last page. As a result, our photographic style has evolved. We’ve improved many of our original techniques thanks to modern technologies and better tools, and our team has discovered creative ways to illustrate the story of bread. With more than 3,000 photos, you will be able to peer inside of a toaster to understand how it works, and you’ll also see the history and science of bread come alive in ways that will surprise you.

In addition to creating a striking book, we also want our illustrations to provide practical value. We recognize that one of the barriers to learning about bread is a lack of useful photography. Bakers, for example, rely on visual and tactile cues throughout the bread-making process, but these cues can be difficult to summarize in words alone or to accurately depict in pictures. Each week, our photography, editorial, and culinary teams work together to make sure those important details are captured in our step-by-step photos.

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Ultimately, we hope that our photography allows readers to see food as we do—as a beautiful source of inspiration, wonder, and imagination. That’s exactly why we decided to create our 2017 Modernist Cuisine and Modernist Bread calendars. Each month features striking images that bring complex phenomena to life, illuminating the hidden beauty of simple ingredients and capturing a magical view of cooking or baking.

Learn how to redeem our special bundle offer

We don’t want you to miss out on the opportunity to take advantage of the special bundles we’ve created for Modernist Bread and Modernist Cuisine on Amazon.com, which is why we want to make sure you have all of the details before you order either of the books.

Each Amazon coupon is good for a $15 savings—the value of the calendars—on the price of either book. Although this is a bundled offer, each item ships separately, when it is available. This means that you don’t have to wait until May to receive your Modernist Bread calendar—it will ship as soon as they are in stock in October. When you are ready to preorder Modernist Bread or purchase Modernist Cuisine, visit the Amazon product pages for the companion calendars first. The coupon is linked to the calendars—it will become available for you to use towards the book after you purchase your calendar.

Redeeming the Amazon coupons takes a few steps, so we’ve put together instructions to help walk you through the process. You can watch the video below or read through the steps just below it to find out how the special Amazon.com coupon works.

 

  1. Purchase your Modernist Bread or Modernist Cuisine wall calendar.
  2. The coupon for a $15 savings will become available after the transaction is complete. You won’t immediately see the coupon– it will be waiting for you when you’re ready to order your book.
  3. Go to the Modernist Bread or Modernist Cuisine landing page.
  4. Add the book to your cart. The coupon will automatically appear under the price of the book when you view your shopping cart or on your Amazon coupon homepage.
  5. Click or tap on the “Clip Coupon” button. This will apply the coupon discount to the book.
  6. Proceed to checkout. The coupon savings will appear on the final order page under the ‘Place your Order’ button.

If you have any questions about Amazon coupons or experience any technical issues as you go through this process, please reach out to the Amazon team here or via phone at 1-888-280-3321 or 1-206-266-2992 for international customers. They will be more than happy to help.

A book (and new website) for any baker 

Our goals for Modernist Bread may seem audacious, but in the end, they all come down to a single objective. This book is a call to arms for any baker to embrace the possibilities of invention and follow inspiration to make breads in your own way.

The future of bread is already under way on our new site, modernistbread.com. Starting today, you can visit us there to preview content from our book. Over time, we’ll populate the site with sneak peeks of the photographs, facts, techniques, and recipes in Modernist Bread.

Project developments are never-ending. Join our mailing list, check our blog, or follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for news and announcements.