A Look Inside: Debunking Myths

There are a lot of myths bound up in bread baking. We investigated commonly held principles, techniques, and beliefs to find the truth behind the hype. In some cases, we found solid evidence to refute some of these long-held ideas; in other cases, we discovered some surprising nuances. Have you ever heard that the water in New York City is the secret to those good bagels? We put that notion to the scientific test and found that the type of water you use doesn’t matter. Do wood-fired ovens really make better bread? For most breads, our tests indicated that the answer is no. These examples are just a few of the longstanding baking myths that are examined in Modernist Bread.

  • Skip the raisins—the evidence against ingredients that boost starters
  • Testing steamy claims: how steam does and does not affect crust
  • Research doesn’t definitively show that whole grains are better for you
  • Pregelatinized dough doesn’t work the way you think it does
  • Settling the purified water debate
  • The truth about high-fructose corn syrup
  • Smoke, mirrors, and “whole grain” labels
  • Alternative facts about whole grains and health
  • Do you really need to knead?
  • Are preferments interchangeable?
  • How not to store bread
  • To age or not age flour?
  • Why black ovens are better
  • Pizza ovens are for pizza, not bread
  • Is fresh yeast best?
  • NYC bagels
  • Does water content matter in a levain?
  • The truth about grandma’s starter