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Modernist Bread Hardcover – November 7, 2017
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From the Publisher
Introducing Modernist Bread
Modernist Bread places the latest scientific research and state-of-the-art applications into the hands of anyone searching for answers about bread making. Spanning over 2,600 pages, this is the largest, most comprehensive book ever written about bread. Modernist Bread isn’t just about new recipes—it’s about the way we think of bread from the ground up.
A Look Inside
Five Volumes of Bread
Discover the complete story of bread across five volumes. The first three volumes of Modernist Bread provide an in-depth look at history, fundamentals, ingredients, techniques, and equipment—they’re followed by two full volumes of recipes and a portable recipe manual.
A Book for Every Type of Baker
Whether you’re new to baking or a seasoned pro, you can bake out of this book no matter what kind of equipment you have. All of the recipes in Modernist Bread were developed for professional and home ovens as well as different mixing methods and mixers. You’ll also find recipe guides to help you determine where to start based on experience level as well as how much time you have.
New Discoveries and Techniques
A faster panettone. A sweet-and-sour levain. An aha moment that transformed our ryes. The result of over four years of research and more than 1,600 experiments, Modernist Bread contains dozens of new insights and techniques that will surprise and delight you—and help you make better bread.
Over 1,200 Recipes and Variations
Modernist Bread encapsulates breads and bread-making methods from around the world, with a guide to help you get started. Make lean breads, enriched breads, rye breads, whole-grain breads, and flatbreads. Also included are recipes for bagels, pretzels, bao, gluten-free breads, and bread machines.
Included with the set, a 440-page wire-bound recipe manual makes it easy to bring all of the recipes and reference tables into the kitchen in one compact collection.
Stainless Steel Case
The sleek, durable, stainless steel case that houses Modernist Bread is thoughtfully designed with tapered edges and spacers to prevent damage and make the volumes easy to access.
Over 5,000 Photographs
Stunning images capture bread as you’ve never seen it before. You’ll also find helpful step-by-step photos that walk you through important details of nearly every technique and master recipe in the book.
Nathan Myhrvold s obsessive study of bread and how it s changed through the ages, Modernist Bread, will be released on Nov. 7 by the Cooking Lab, Mr. Myhrvold's own publishing house. Written with the chef Francisco Migoya, the book is a single-subject follow-up to Modernist Cuisine, the encyclopedic 2011 boxed-set cookbook that used hard science to demystify culinary techniques, and dazzled cooks with its cross-sectional photographs showing hidden processes inside pressure cookers and charcoal grills. The new book stretching over 2,000 pages, with step-by-step images and a hefty list price of $625 chronicles the history and science of bread-making in depth ( Baking is applied microbiology, one chapter begins), breaking frequently for meticulous, textbook-style tangents on flour and fermentation. Its recipes require a commitment to close reading, and to flipping back through the books for deeper explanations. But each has useful variations that work with many kinds of mixing and cooking methods, for both professional and home kitchens. Above all, the book is a call for cooks to rethink one of the world's oldest foods to understand how bread is made, using more than their instinct and intuition, so they can push the craft forward. The book insists that the most exciting time to be a baker (or bread lover) isn't a golden age that has passed us all by. It wasn't Pompeii, or medieval Florence or 18th-century France, with its wheat riots. And it wasn't Northern California in the 1970s, where the American artisanal bread movement started in response to the industrialization of bread. It is right now. --The New York Times
A $625 cookbook called Modernist Bread by Nathan Myhrvold and written with chef Francisco Migoya is a five-part cookbook that will explain all of the complexities of bread. According to The New York Times, the tome is a follow up to 2011's Modernist Cuisine. Myhrvold's first cookbook aimed to replaced the term molecular gastronomy with modernist cuisine and was an avant-garde approach of rebelling against culinary rules of the past. It looks like his latest literary endeavor will be no different. The new tome, with a hefty price tag of $625, is over 2,000 pages and will account for the history and science of bread-making. According to the Modernist Bread website, it is a call to arms for any baker. As reported by the Times, the book has meticulous, textbook-style tangents on flour and fermentation. Its recipes require a commitment to close reading, and to flipping back through the books for deeper explanations. But each has useful variations that work with many kinds of mixing and cooking methods, for both professional and home kitchens. The book's website claims that it will transform passionate and curious foodies into bread experts that is if you can afford it and expresses hope that readers will strive for innovation in their breadmaking. Above all, concludes the Times review, the book is a call for cooks to rethink one of the world s oldest foods to understand how bread is made, using more than their instinct and intuition, so they can push the craft forward. --The Daily Meal
About the Author
Nathan Myhrvold is founder of The Cooking Lab and lead author of Modernist Cuisine: The Art and Science of Cooking, Modernist Cuisine at Home, The Photography of Modernist Cuisine, and the forthcoming book Modernist Bread: The Art and Science. He routinely pushes the boundaries of culinary science as a chef, scientist, photographer, and writer. He has had a passion for food and photography since he was a boy. At a young age he consumed cooking books and invested in new cameras and lenses—even while doing postdoctoral cosmology work with Stephen Hawking. While working as the chief technology officer of Microsoft, he took a leave of absence to earn his culinary diploma from École de Cuisine La Varenne in France. Nathan retired from Microsoft in 1999 to found Intellectual Ventures and pursue several interests, including his lifelong interest in photography, cooking, and food science. Inspired by the void in literature about culinary science and the cutting-edge techniques used in the world’s best restaurants, Myhrvold assembled the Modernist Cuisine team to share the art and science of cooking with others.
Francisco Migoya leads the Modernist Cuisine culinary team as head chef. Together with Nathan Myhrvold, he directs culinary research and the development of new techniques and recipes for the team’s next book Modernist Bread: The Art and Science, on-sale Spring 2017. An innovative pastry chef, his most recent book, The Elements of Dessert (John Wiley & Sons, 2012), won a 2014 International Association of Culinary Professional Cookbook Award in the Professional Kitchens category. He has been recognized as a top U.S. pastry chef and chocolatier, with accolades that include the Medal of Master Artisan Pastry Chef (2013) from Gremi de Pastisseria de Barcelona. Migoya owned Hudson Chocolates in New York and worked at both The French Laundry and Bouchon Bakery as executive pastry chef. Prior to joining the Modernist Cuisine team, Migoya was a professor at The Culinary Institute of America, where his areas of instruction included bread, viennoiserie, pastry, and culinary science.
Top customer reviews
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So far I've only explored the first two volumes in any depth but I've really been impressed so far. Modernist Cuisine tried to be an all-inclusive reference to savory cooking in a modernist style, and that's an overwhelming breadth of topics. Even at 2,400 pages, there were many topics that were better covered as single subjects in other books. It was also their first book and there were some rough edges to be seen, though it was still a magnificent achievement.
Bread however succeeds in several ways that Cuisine didn't. It's essentialy 2,600 pages on a single subject and they can really dig into things in great depth. It doesn't hurt that the single subject is something that I love, so rather than having varying interest in the recipes in Cuisine, Bread is just a never ending wonderment of bready goodness.
Bread is also unburdened by the exotic equipment and ingredients that made most of Cuisine inaccessible to home cooks once you got past the Mac & Cheese. Almost everything in Bread looks like it should be accessible to any dedicated home cook, and with very little special equipment (no Roto-Vap, Ultra Centrifuge, or Anti-griddles in sight).
The information density seems higher than in Cuisine, and I'm really learning a lot. Even their history section in volume 1 is extensive and well researched and quite interesting. They have an even longer chapter on nutrition and diet this time, but it's similar to that from Cuisine and they debunk most fads and most "common wisdom" about diet and health.
There's a little bit of redundancy in the writing (they've already explained "Baker's Percentages" to me three times now), but overall I'm quite impressed with the quality as well as both breadth and depth of the writing. Again, significantly more than I am with Cuisine. Bread just feels much more polished.
The production quality, binding, and the illustrations are at least as good and probably better than Cuisine. The over 5,000 images are stunningly good and of the highest resolution. The volumes are oversize and just at the limit of something you can hold in your lap and read comfortably. In this respect the set is easily worth the price as an object of art to display and enjoy, even if you only ever admire it.
But unlike Cuisine, Bread really screams "you can make all these things!" and I'm already hungrily looking forward to getting into the kitchen (though I feel like i should read most of the first three volumes a couple times first lol).
I won't bore you with the detailed contents this time since you can find that on their web site, but I'll mention a couple things that have struck me so far. First, the Kitchen Manual is much larger and contains pretty much everything you need to take into the kitchen with you to attempt any of the recipes from the book. It's again printed on plastic or plasticized waterproof paper with a lay flat spiral binding.
The stainless steel case is nice and probably less subject to breakage than the acrylic case from Cuisine. It's thin, but seems fairly sturdy and is very well constructed without visible seams or welds between panels.
I'll be back to update this review once I've finished reading more of the how-to, and after I make some bread.
But after spending a year wondering if this was really going to be worth the price, I'm really happy that I bought it and I think you will be too.
No question about stars, it gets all of them.
P.S. The Cast-Iron Combination Cooker they use is this one: Lodge LCC3 Cast Iron Combo Cooker, Pre-Seasoned, 3.2-Quart
Update 1: I've been working my way through more of the content, and the volume of information is simply overwhelming (while deep and interesting at the same time). I have to laugh now at the few one-star troll reviews that fail to believe one could actually need something like this to make bread as they have no idea what they are missing.
This really is going to be a classic work on baking bread I think, and it's just more impressive every day. The depth and complexity actually run the risk of being a turn off to some people as you may start to feel like you're going to need to spend a few years studying the books before you're qualified to try anything. I think just jumping in and picking something and giving it a try will be the best way to start. More reports to come!
The first volume contains a ton of historical information and basic bread physics. Then, volumes 2 and 3 cover individual ingredients and techniques, and volumes 4 and 5 are mostly recipes. This segregation makes the books much easier to use than Modernist Cuisine, which had recipes scattered throughout the series.
This series is also much more appropriate for a home cook than Modernist Cuisine (many of that book's recipes were purely "inspirational" for home cooks and a stretch for even most professionals). The vast majority of the recipes in Modernist Bread, however, are completely reasonable for both home cooks and professional bakers. The French Lean Bread recipe can be made with literally just an oven and a scale (or measuring cups, in a pinch). You don't even need a spoon. For each Master recipe they also provide a Modernist variation, as well as many other ways to tweak the recipe to your liking. Note that there is no information on quick bread or pastries, which were deemed outside the scope of this book.
So far I've baked about a dozen loaves of bread based on the recipes in this book. They all turned out well, and in many cases were the best version of that style of bread I've ever eaten. The instructions in the book are usually clear, if not exactly concise. The photography is both stunning (Myhrvold is an incredibly talented photographer, among his many other skills) and informative.
There were a few places in the book where I found the instructions somewhat unclear, or where it seemed that the recipe presented conflicted with advice given in the text. It's not clear whether this is my own misunderstanding or an actual mistake in the book, but I found that it does help having at least a bit of bread-baking experience before diving headlong into Modernist Bread.
Ultimately, I believe this book met its basic aim of distilling millennia of human knowledge about making yeast-leavened breads into a single comprehensive resource, and then expanding on that knowledge and presenting it in a way that teaches us how to produce whatever type of loaf we desire.
Most recent customer reviews
Yes, very good. I want to try the recipes.
Yes, eXtremely heavy. Moving it is a pain.