Pizza and Buffalo chicken wings? How we could not combine two of our favorite things. Based on the classic sports bar or brewery appetizer that is originally made with chicken wings, this pizza is made with boneless chicken thighs instead to make it easier to eat. It is difficult to overcook chicken thighs, allowing you to fry them very crispy without worrying about the meat drying out, which happens with leaner parts of the bird, such as the breast. You want them extra crispy so that they stay that way even after they have been tossed in sauce.
This recipe is for a Detroit-style pizza, but you can adapt the recipe to any style you want using the directions in Modernist Pizza. Prepare to be bowled over by this addictively-good pizza. It’s the perfect recipe to make for Super Bowl and March Madness parties or to simply celebrate a victory any day of the week.
You can’t talk about Detroit-style pizza without talking about cheese. The crust has the light, airy crumb and crispy bottom characteristic of all the bread-like pizza crusts. What differentiates a Detroit-style pizza is that the edge of the dough is bordered with cheese, applied so that it comes right up against the sides of the baking pan. In the oven, the cheese melts and bakes into a golden-brown, crunchy crust. The best pieces to get are the corners since they have two crispy sides to them, but the center ones are still plenty delicious.
And not any cheese will do. For a traditional Detroit-style experience, it has to be Wisconsin brick cheese mixed in equal parts with pizza cheese or cheddar cheese. Wisconsin brick cheese has a rich flavor best described as being like melted butter. If you can’t find brick cheese, use a combination of white cheddar and mozzarella.
While the other bread-like pizza doughs require a preferment, our Detroit-style master dough can be made from start to finish on the day you want your pizza. After being mixed to nearly full gluten development, it gets two 15-minute bench rests separated by a four-edge fold. This allows the gluten strands to relax, making it easier to fit the dough into the pan. This is also the only one of our bread-like pizzas that is baked to order—all the others are baked ahead and then reheated—but this one can also be easily reheated with positive results.
Another distinguishing characteristic of Detroit-style pizza is the inclusion of semolina flour (about 15%) along with the bread flour, which adds flavor, gives the dough a nice color, and makes it a bit easier to handle since semolina contains less gluten-forming proteins. Because this is a “day of” or direct dough, with instant yeast the only leavener, we kick-start its fermentation in two ways: by adding a lot more yeast (0.9%) and by increasing the water temperature to 30–30.5°C / 85–87°F (versus the usual 21°C / 70°F). You typically sacrifice some flavor with a faster fermentation, but that is not the case with this dough.
In German, vollkornbrot means “whole-grain bread,” and the name is apt. One of the hallmark breads of Germany, vollkornbrot is a no-nonsense rye loaf. The rye is integrated into the dough in many forms: a rye levain, cooked rye berries, rye flour, and cracked rye (as a soaker and in the preferment). Under German rules, vollkornbrot must contain at least 90% rye flour, and levain should account for at least two-thirds of the preferment.
Vollkornbrot stands out as being a bread with a small percentage of flour relative to the rye grains added, the latter of which provide most of the bread’s structure—the proportion of flour in the recipe is just enough to help the wet dough coalesce. The result is a decidedly dense loaf that can be described as brick-like, but in a way we really enjoy. This creates an interesting opportunity to explore different types of inclusions that can offer similar structure but bring different flavor to the bread—think of this as a “bread pâté” with numerous possible inclusions that are suspended in every slice. Variations on our master recipe from Modernist Bread are riffs on the idea of dough as a binder, but instead of sunflower seeds and rye berries, we use other inclusions: dried fruit, toasted nuts, and even chocolate chunks and cocoa powder. Loaded with candied fruit, this particular variation will quickly become a winter staple that can easily double as a surprising (and deeply satisfying) twist on a traditional fruitcake during the holidays.
Brioche is the granddaddy of sweet enriched breads; it’s rich and tender because it’s laden with butter—we’ve made delicious brioche with as much as 100% butter (in baker’s percentage). Generally speaking, fat can get in the way of gluten-bond formation, so although high-fat dough can take longer to mix, the lubricating quality of fat results in a more tender crumb.
In addition to having a wonderful texture, Brioche is versatile, forming the basis of many enriched breads. Brioche can be sweet or savory and handle a number of fats, such as flavorful infused butters. It can be divided into individual portions or baked into loaves; used to make sandwiches or laminated like a croissant; and baked, steamed, fried, or even microwaved.
The French sweetened pastry dough pâté sablée is the namesake of this relatively easy brioche recipe from Modernist Bread, and we borrow from it the traditional pastry-making technique of rubbing or cutting the fat into the flour. We recommend using a food processor to most efficiently accomplish that task. This technique will greatly reduce mixing time and reduce stress on the dough. The eggs and milk are blended in at the end, unlike with most other brioche recipes, which signal to add them early in the mix.
There’s a lot to understand about how to properly handle the dough so that you wind up with a well-executed brioche. Baking it is a balancing act that involves ensuring the crumb is strong enough to support the structure while not overbaking, which can create a thick crust. Careful baking results in a loaf of brioche that’s rich and satisfying. We love tearing off soft, delicate strands of freshly baked brioche—that’s something you could never do with a baguette. Those strands are long gluten chains made flexible by fat, but more to the point, they’re simply a pleasure to eat.
Soft, plaited, and with a shiny crust, challah is an easily recognized loaf that is often prominently displayed on bakery shelves during Jewish holidays and on Fridays for Shabbat. While the bread has a distinctive richness that’s reminiscent of brioche, it is traditionally pareve (it contains no meat or dairy), so it is made with oil rather than butter, as well as much less liquid. The whole eggs and egg yolks give the bread its lush flavor and golden color.
A typical challah is made by braiding ropes of dough. The process can be tricky at first, but it can become second nature with practice. Because challah is traditionally braided, proofing is key—if the dough is not properly proofed, it will tear in the oven. Challah isn’t as finicky as brioche because challah’s lower hydration level makes it less prone to collapsing. Challah dough typically gets an egg wash to make the crust shine, but take care not to let the wash drip down the sides, or you’ll end up with scrambled eggs in your braids. You can up the shine factor by opening the oven vent after the bread begins to brown.
Varieties of challah often involve creating different shapes or adding various flavorings. For Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, challah loaves are made in a circular or spiral shape for various symbolic reasons—depending on whom you ask, the round shape represents continuity, the wheel of the seasons, or a spiral of upward progress.
Traditional challah recipes generally limit additions to honey, raisins, or saffron and sometimes toppings like nigella, sesame, and poppy seeds. We’ve come up with our own variations on challah that feature vanilla, Earl Grey tea, and chocolate as well. When the bread begins to stale, it makes terrific French toast.
You need just four ingredients to make French lean breads: flour, water, salt, and yeast. Simple, right? That’s why we recommend lean breads as a good starting place for new bakers. The baguette is not only a loaf by which many bakers are measured, it is also the quintessential example of French lean bread. Although the word “baguette” has a number of meanings (including a stick or concertmaster’s baton), surly its most common meaning is this long, slender loaf. One of its distinctions is the crispy crust achieved by incorporating steam in the baking process.
The master French Lean Bread recipe from Modernist Bread is made with commercial yeast rather than levain. We use commercial yeast to make a preferment called a poolish, which imparts a slightly tangy flavor and a nice finished appearance to the bread. The dough is versatile enough to work when formed into boules, bâtards, baguettes, and other shapes. The best examples of French lean breads have a crusty exterior, a light yellow–beige crumb that yields to the teeth, a mild flavor that goes with nearly everything, and an aroma that will make you want to inhale deeply through your nose.
Like the Portuguese themselves, this sweet bread has traveled the globe; it has taken hold where larger populations of Portuguese immigrants settled, including Hawaii and New England. And when we say “sweet bread,” we mean sweet! These rolls include much more sugar than many enriched doughs. In Portuguese, this bread is called folar, and it is made during Easter. There is a savory variation called folar de Chaves, which is stuffed with ham, linguiça, and salpicão. This bread is best enjoyed within one day or can be frozen for up to two months.
Steamed buns or bao are a significant staple in Chinese cuisine. Some authorities date the origin of steamed bao all the way back to the Warring States period (475–221 B.C.E.) in China, although others suggest bao is a few centuries more recent than that. Bao have relatives in various Asian countries, including Korean mandu, Malaysian pau, Japanese nikuman, and Filipino siopao.
Bao is made of flour, water, and yeast, just like any other bread. The difference is, the dough is steamed, not baked, turning it into a warm, plump bun. Bao dough is typically wrapped around a filling before steaming. Sometimes, bao is served without filling, as a sop for sauces. This is often called mantou, although some authorities define these terms differently. In terms of fillings, there are endless regional variations and creative possibilities.
The slightly sweet bao dough is forgiving, easy to put together, and extremely versatile. This easy recipe creates a dough you can transform into many different shapes, from a simple steamed mantou to a more elaborate knotted hua juan (or “flower bun”) and stuffed buns, such as hum bao. While the actual buns are petite, they should be generously plump, not deflated from oversteaming. The crust should be almost invisibly ultrathin and shiny from the gelatinized starch. The crumb should be tender, with a delicately chewy texture that’s soft enough to be easily pulled apart.
Steamed buns should be eaten warm, ideally as soon as possible after steaming. You can also refresh the buns in the steamer or fry them if they’re not consumed right away.
By adding cherries, we have taken the beloved combination of bread and chocolate in a new direction. A variation of our Sourdough Master Recipe, this dough is only moderately sweet; the natural sourness of the dough tempers the sweet character of the inclusions. Given how many taste testers were waiting when these loaves came out of the oven, it’s a captivating combination (and a team favorite). As a bonus, the bake-proof chocolate chips remain melted for a good while (while still holding their shape), adding to the indulgence of each bite. We recommend making an extra loaf or two to share—this surprising sourdough makes a thoughtful gift from the heart. This bread is best enjoyed within two to three days and can be frozen for up to two months.
In many cultures, there’s a holiday tradition of baking bread with a small token hidden inside, such as a coin or a whole almond. It’s a nice surprise for whoever gets the slice with the token, which is sometimes said to bring a year of good luck.
Though our own version may be showier than is accustomed, King’s Day Bread (or Rosca de Reyes in Spanish) is always adorned with candied fruits. King’s Day, January 6, commemorates the arrival of the three Wise Men in Bethlehem with gifts for baby Jesus. The baker customarily hides a figurine of baby Jesus inside the dough. The bread has a particularly rich tradition in Mexico, where the person served the piece with the figurine is obliged, traditionally, to host a tamal dinner on February 2 (the Day of the Virgin of Candelaria).
Versions of the citron-tinged bread—also known as Three Kings Bread, Twelfth Night Cake, or Brioche des Rois—are eaten in many countries, including France, Spain, and Portugal. In addition to King’s Day, the bread is also prepared for Twelfth Night (a Christian holiday 12 days after Christmas) and in New Orleans during Mardi Gras.
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