I recently attended a preview of the highly anticipated Modernist Bread cookbook, a followup to the best-selling Modernist Cuisine. The new book, which debuts Nov. 8, does a deep dive — down to a molecular level over five volumes and 2,400+ pages — about the ancient art of turning flour, water, salt and yeast into one of the world's most beloved foods. During author Nathan Myhrvold's entertaining power point, he hit a whole lot of highlights and busted a few myths about bread baking.
1. Whole Grain Breads Are NOT More Nutritious Than White Bread
After a scientific analysis, that was the team's conclusion. So, please pass Grandma VanDoren's White Bread!
2. The Type of Water Used in Bread Recipes Doesn't Make a Difference
Setting out to prove/disprove that New York bagels are best because they're made with water from the Big Apple, the Modernist Bread team discovered that was just not true. They tested distilled water, mineral water, even water from Myhrvold's swimming pool, and the differences were impossible to distinguish.
3. Pizza Steels Beat Pizza Stones
This discovery was made during the research for the Modernist Cuisine collection, with the metal heating much more efficiently than the stone. This is wonderful news for home cooks, who love to make pizza, and don't have a fancy, professional deck oven.
4. Gluten-Free Bread is Delicious
As guests to the preview event arrived at the state-of-the-art Modernist Kitchen in Bellevue, Wash., they were greeted with toasty slices of brioche topped with a brick red muhammara (the Syrian red pepper spread). Later, it was revealed that it was made with gluten-free flour. The crowd gasped. Many said it was the best brioche they'd ever eaten.
5. Most Rye Bread Isn't Really Rye
In an exhaustive survey of the rye breads out on the market, the team learned that most contained very little rye flour at all. It's typically wheat flour with a small amount of rye. While rye is a staple in the Old World, especially in Germany, its assertive flavor has been watered down in this country. To introduce Americans to the joy of rye, the team developed a slew of recipes, include a steamed bao bun filled with homemade pastrami and sauerkraut, a fresh take on a Reuben sandwich, which was served up by chef and co-author Francisco Migoya and his impressive crew. So good!