Direct Farmer’s Bread

Direct farmer's bread

The Direct Farmer’s Bread is a great, time-saving recipe for beginner home bakers that can be made in a day.

Of the rye bread recipes that can be found in Modernist Cuisine at Home, this one has a lower rye flour percentage. The blend of wheat and rye offers the best of both flours: gluten provided by the wheat gives the bread structure and a more open crumb, while the rye offers flavor and a chewy texture. One twist that’s different from many breads is that the loaf is baked seam side up rather than down. This creates natural—if irregular—splits in the surface of the bread while baking. The splits act as a score on the bread, which is not only practical but also creates a beautiful, rustic-looking loaf.

Using commercial yeast is not only easier than relying on a preferment for the leavener but also a speedier option since the proofing time is significantly reduced. What you miss out on—what only time can contribute—is the depth and complexity of flavor that levain and prolonged proofing time offer. But to have a rustic loaf with this much character in a fraction of the original time is not a bad compromise.

Caramelized Inclusions with a Pressure Cooker or Instant Pot

It’s no secret that we love pressure cookers and Instant Pots. Most of us have heard gruesome tales of exploding pressure cookers that discouraged would-be users of the device from cooking with one. Older versions of the pressure cooker were simply not as safe as those produced today, which was mainly due to malfunctioning release valves. These days, pressure cookers and Instant Pots are not only safe but also produce extraordinary results with many foods, including grains. They cook wet foods at higher temperatures and faster speeds than other conventional methods.

A pressure cooker is just a pot with a lockable lid and a valve that controls the internal pressure. Water boiling inside the sealed pot turns into steam and increases the internal pressure, usually to 1 bar / 15 psi above atmospheric pressure. The higher pressure makes it possible for water to reach an effective cooking temperature as high as 120°C / 250°F, which reduces cooking time by half or more for most foods. This fantastic speed, however, comes at a cost: since you can’t open the lid until the pressure is released, you can’t stir the contents or see what you’re cooking until the end. You can learn even more about how pressure cookers work in our blog.

During the creation of Modernist Cuisine, we stumbled upon an interesting method to caramelize food under pressure. The key ingredient? Baking soda! Baking soda is a catalyst that accelerates the caramelization process to create exceptionally rich results. Picture sugars intensifying and flavors concentrating, all because of baking soda combining with a heat of 120°C / 250°F within the confines of a pressure cooker or Instant Pot. Two of our favorite pressure-caramelized recipes include our Caramelized Carrot Soup and Pressure Caramelized Sweet Potato Soup recipes.

Initially designed for vegetables and fruits, this technique surprisingly works wonders for grains as well. It make the grains tender and incredibly flavorful. Read on to learn how to pressure-caramelized grains and also how to seamlessly incorporate them into your bread recipes.


To pressure-caramelize grains, you will need to cook them first, separately, until they are al dente. This means that each grain (or piece of cracked grain) is visibly independent from the others, rather than as part of a homogenous mass, as in porridge. Grains are considered al dente when they’re tender; the water should be absorbed or evaporated when cooking is complete. Taste the grains to judge the texture rather than relying on how they look.

Al dente is cooked through but with some bite resistance, such as noodles.

You can cook grains until they are al dente on a stovetop, with a pressure cooker or an Instant Pot. You’ll find a step-by-step guide for each option (as well as our recommended cooking times for various grains) starting on page 28 of Modernist Bread at Home. As a general rule, when cooking grains on a stovetop, avoid lifting the lid of the pot unless the recipe calls for it (the lid must be removed for some grains so that water can evaporate). If you lift the lid, steam will escape from the surface, which cools down the pot’s contents. Depending on the type, cooked grains can be refrigerated for up to 3 days or frozen for up to 2 months. After cooking, the grains will clearly retrograde, transforming from soft to brittle and crumbly as the starches recrystallize, but when they bake inside the loaf of bread, the process will be reversed.


With nothing more than sugar, butter, baking soda, and a few canning jars, you can add pressure-caramelized grain, fruit, and vegetable inclusions to your dough in a few hours by following this recipe. The water in the recipe below should be added only when pressure-caramelizing grains; without the additional water, the grains will harden and become unpalatable. If you are pressure-caramelizing any other ingredient, omit the water.

We found that in addition to intensifying flavors, the small amounts of butter, baking soda, and sugar we added actually improved the structure and quality of the dough, producing a larger volume and more-open crumb structure. We suggest adding up to 50% of pressure-caramelized ingredients to your breads.


  • 200 g main ingredients
  • 40 g (or 3½ Tbsp) sugar
  • 60 g (or ¼ cup) butter, melted
  • 1 g (or ⅛ tsp) baking soda
  • 100 g (or ¼ cup + 3 Tbsp) water if pressure-caramelizing grains


  1. Combine all the ingredients well in a bowl.
  2. Place the mixture in canning jars; close the lids but not too tightly (not too loosely either).
  3. Place a trivet in the base of a pressure cooker.
  4. Place the jars on top of the trivet.
  5. Fill the pressure cooker with enough water to reach halfway up the jars.
  6. Bring the water to a simmer over high heat without the lid on the pot.
  7. Once the water reaches a simmer, place the lid on the pot securely.
  8. Allow for the pressure to build up, but don’t let the mixture boil. Turn the heat down to low, maintaining 1 bar / 15 psi. Avoid boiling the liquid, which is a sure sign that the pressure cooker is overpressurized.
  9. Pressure-cook for 1 h.
  10. Turn off the heat, and remove the pot from the stove. Allow it to cool down naturally. Don’t open the lid.
  11. Once the cooker is cool, remove the lid carefully. Pull the jars out of the pot.
  12. Open the lids to the jars, and remove the contents (drain if necessary). Once cool, the caramelized ingredient is ready to add to the dough.


  1. Set the Instant Pot to Sauté. Melt the butter in the base of the cooker. Add the main ingredient(s), sugar, baking soda, and water (if using).
  2. Stir thoroughly to combine. Switch the Instant Pot to Pressure Cook mode. Select 12 psi (High), and set the time for 1 h. Lock the lid onto the pot and pressure-caramelize the grains.
  3. When the Instant Pot has depressurized, cool the contents before adding to the dough.


  • Keep a timer close to your pot. Pressure-cooking is time specific. You don’t want to forget when you started or how long your grain has been cooking.
  • Let the pressure within the pot release naturally, and don’t force this to happen. It can be dangerous to open the lid while there’s still pressure within the pot. Beware that the contents of the pot continue to cook even after you remove the pot from the stove and the pressure inside has decreased.
  • Determining the final texture of the grains is up to you. If the grains are undercooked, simply close the lid again, and continue to cook on low after reaching full pressure in 2- to 3-minute increments, checking for doneness each time. If the grains are too soft, they may still be usable for mixing into your dough. They’ll be less chewy and firm than properly cooked grains but will nonetheless contribute flavor and make for a chewy crumb. Accurate measuring should lead to properly cooked grains.
  • Once your grains have cooled, you can incorporate them into the dough. If you’re mixing by machine, add the caramelized ingredients into the dough when it has reached medium gluten development: turn the mixer down to low speed, add the pressure-caramelized ingredients, and mix until they’re just combined with the dough (see page 67 of Modernist Bread at Home for more information). If you’re mixing by hand, add them on top of the dough after the first or second fold in a single layer; they’ll mix into the dough as your folding progresses.
  • To prevent grains from scorching in a pressure cooker, make sure the flame or electric heat source is low enough to prevent scorching but not so low that the heat isn’t hot enough to cook the grains. Always start cooking with high heat to get the pressure buildup going, and then reduce the heat to medium-low or low to keep the liquid from boiling.
  • The Instant Pot or pressure cooker’s gasket can crack, which will prevent the cooker from sealing correctly. To extend the life of the gasket (it’s often one of the first things to go), coat it in cooking oil, and wipe off the excess with a clean paper towel. This helps keep it from drying out.

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Classic Deep-Dish Pizza

Classic deep-dish pizza is pretty different from the rest of the pizzas in this book. Although it has a thin crust, the weight of the toppings far exceeds the amounts used on other pizza styles. And while Chicago is famous for its deep-dish pizza, it’s not the only place that has something like it. Both the Our Pizza Rustica (page 164 in Volume 3 of Modernist Pizza) and Our Pizza alla Campofranco (page 162, also in Volume 3), which hail from Italy, are very similar to deep-dish pizza, just with a second crust.

Whether deep-dish is really a pizza or not is the subject of many heated debates (based largely on where you call home). Some feel strongly that it is pizza while others feel just as strongly that deep-dish pizza is closer to a casserole. If pizza consists of dough, cheese, and tomato sauce, then yes, this is categorically a pizza (even though by this logic many things could fall under those parameters). In our opinion, deep-dish had to be included in this book because it is so iconic. Wherever it falls in the pizza/ casserole classification, the fact that it is delicious remains true.

It is a complicated style to get right, primarily because everything contained within it conspires to make the crust soggy. Its many toppings (they are more akin to fillings) can verge on too much but we don’t recommend underfilling. Because the pizza is baked in a deep pan, you can put a lot of things in there!

Through trial and error, we learned that the pizza bakes a lot faster without the sauce because the sauce is wet and acts as an insulator. Instead, we opt to add the warm sauce after the pizza has baked. You can make the sauce up to 4 days ahead of time and reheat it.

We recommend baking deep-dish pizza in a deep-dish pan with a removable base to make the pizza easier to remove. It will bake better on a hot deck oven or a baking stone. You want to try to get the crust as crisp as possible during the relatively long baking time.

Don’t miss out on our past recipes for deep-dish tomato sauce and deep-dish pizza dough.

Deep-Dish Pizza Dough

We discuss our deep-dish pizza dough near our thin-crust pizza doughs for a reason. It turns out that the “deep” part of deep-dish pizza consists mostly of the copious toppings, while the dough itself is pretty thin. As with our Thin-Crust Pizza Dough, this dough includes a bit of cornmeal, characteristic of the deep-dish pizzas that Chicago is famous for.

This deep-dish dough does not use a poolish and includes both butter and lard, which makes sense when you consider that deep-dish pizza is more akin to a quiche than a pizza. The dough is mixed to full gluten development, has a bench rest of 20 minutes, and proofs at room temperature for 1½ hours, so you can make it the same day you want to serve pizza. For those with the time, we have found that cold-proofing for a day will yield a crispier, even better-tasting crust.

Looking for a good deep-dish pizza sauce recipe? We’ve got you covered here.

Paprika-Infused Mozzarella

Infused mozzarella paprika pizza.

We contend that it’s fun to make mozzarella; it lets you experience the ingredient on a whole new level. Plus, once you do start making your own cheese, you gain an opportunity to make something that you can’t buy, like our infused mozzarellas, which are not only beautiful but also delicious. We developed a handful of flavored mozzarellas during a series of experiments, including ones infused with spices, fresh herbs, and flavored oils, before using them as a jumping-off point for creating different flavor profiles.

Combining creamy mozzarella with the bold, smoky essence of paprika, this recipe for homemade paprika-infused fior di latte mozzarella is a great entry point for learning to make your own cheese. While this mozzarella is great on its own, it will also take your pizzas to a whole new level. For example, our paprika-infused mozzarella pizza is topped with mascarpone cheese, paprika-infused fior di latte mozzarella cheese, fingerling potatoes, Spanish chorizo, and parsley while our basil-infused mozzarella pizza features classic Neapolitan pizza tomato sauce, basil-infused fior di latte mozzarella cheese, ricotta, heirloom tomato, basil, and olive oil. You can use these mozzarellas with just about any style of pizza, but we like them best on Neapolitan pizzas because the style showcases fresh mozzarella so well.

This recipe for paprika-infused fior di latte mozzarella incorporates our process for making uncultured homemade mozzarella, which, like ricotta (see page 338 in volume 2 of Modernist Pizza) is relatively simple to make. In all, this recipe takes around 2 hours to make, with about 20–25 min of active time. No special tools are required, although you will need a fine mesh sieve and cheesecloth to drain the curds as well as a kitchen thermometer and timer, which you’ll use throughout the cheese-making process. As far as ingredients go, make sure you have citric acid and liquid animal rennet on hand as well as calcium lactate to make a storage bath. The mozzarella is amazing fresh but can be stored for up to one week in refrigeration.

The technique for infusing the cheese with paprika can be applied to other spices as well as herbs and oils. Or you can give it an additional Modernist twist by vacuum infusing the mozzarella with wine, ponzu, or your favorite hot sauce. For additional infusion recipes, including saffron, fresh basil, garlic confit oil, and more, turn to page 337 in volume 2 of Modernist Pizza. Whether you’re a seasoned chef or a home cook, we encourage you to use these as a starting point to experiment and create new infused mozzarellas of your own.

Interested in the fundamentals of making mozzarella from scratch? Be sure to dive into our Making Homemade Mozzarella blog for a comprehensive guide.

As you embark on your own mozzarella experiments, we invite you to share your culinary adventures with us on social media. We’re thrilled to be part of your journey and eagerly anticipate your feedback and thoughts!



Deep-Dish Tomato Sauce

Pizzaioli making deep-dish and Detroit-style pizzas apply the sauce à la minute, just before it is served. Both of these pizzas take a long time to bake, and the sauce can significantly impact that process. That’s because sauce contains a lot of water, and when it covers a thick piece of pizza dough, the heat will radiate very poorly and very slowly toward the center of the crust. Taking the sauce out of the equation from the beginning significantly reduces baking time. For these types of pizzas, we keep the sauce hot and spoon or pipe it on top immediately after baking. You can make the sauce up to 4 days ahead of time and reheat it.

Want to customize your tomato sauce flavor profile even more? After trying out this recipe, take a look at our Improving Pizza Sauce blog post.


Mushroom Comté Pizza

The mushroom and comté pizza is hands down one of our absolute favorite recipes from Modernist Pizza. The flavors and textures of the finished pizza are simply the best expressions of mushrooms that we could produce. This pizza is bound to be a hit at your next dinner or pizza party.

One of the most important components of this pizza is the pressure-caramelized shiitake puree that we use as a sauce. Not only does it concentrate the flavor of the mushroom, but the caramelization is also deeply enhanced by the method we use to make it. When we combine the effectiveness of a pressure cooker with our recipe for pressure-caramelizing vegetables – in this case, shiitake mushrooms – we obtain particularly rich results. The resulting sauce intensifies the caramelization of sugars and concentrates the flavor through the alkalinity of the baking soda and the heat buildup in the pressure cooker, resulting in a delightfully unique pizza sauce.

Oh, and then there are the truffles to top it all off.

Direct Thin Crust Pizza Recipe

We encountered thin-crust pizzas of various stripes throughout our travels, from the U.S. Midwest to São Paulo, Brazil. Admittedly, we really love a good thin-crust pizza. When done right, they’re incredibly satisfying and a nice, light departure from their counterparts with thicker crusts. These pizzas go by different names but share some fundamental traits: thin-crust pizzas are shaped with a rolling pin or dough sheeter, are typically sauced and topped right up to the edge so that there’s minimal rim, have little interior crumb to speak of, and bake up with a firm base that doesn’t droop when folded.

When we went about creating our own thin-crust doughs, we aimed to create one that could easily be rolled out thin but that’s sturdy enough to handle the toppings and still yield a great crunch. The pizza has a little bit of rim that gets the crunchiest (we like having a handle to hold our pizza). Thin-crust pizza is also an excellent choice for outdoor grilling on a charcoal or gas grill. We also wanted a dough that can be used the same day you make it, if you choose to.

This direct thin-crust pizza dough is a variation of our master recipe. We developed this time-saving technique with busy schedules in mind—you can make this dough, from start to finish, in under 2 1/2 hours without compromising on quality. It yields a crust that is sturdy, crunchy, and has great flavor.

Because you are rolling this dough so thin, be sure to use fine-ground cornmeal in the dough – anything coarser and you run the risk of it ripping the dough as you roll. The other downside of very coarse cornmeal is that if it doesn’t absorb enough moisture from the dough, it can be too crunchy to chew easily. If all you have is coarse-ground cornmeal, run it through a food processor or spice grinder first.

Follow our recipe below to make your own thin-crust pizza. You’ll get three 50 cm / 20 in pizzas or four 40 cm / 16 in pizzas, so feel free to experiment with a variety of topping combinations.

A slice of thin crust pizza with many toppings.

Detroit-Style Buffalo Chicken Pizza

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.

Detroit-Style Pizza Dough

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.