A Look Inside: Discoveries

We spent more than four years looking into the hows and whys of bread. Along the way, we moved into a new kitchen lab with more space, more equipment, and more opportunities for collaboration. The lab is a unique place, where scientific equipment sits side by side with just about every food-related device you can think of.  We measured everything from loaf density to dough structure to the behavior of different flours. Nothing in our lab is left to guesswork. We even have an awe-inspiring scanning electron microscope that allows us to view ingredients on a molecular level.

Those explorations lead to many discoveries—many are our own, and others have been published previously but are not widely known. We found, for example, that it is possible to make a light and fluffy 100% rye bread if you have the right type of rye flour. Unfortunately, that flour is hard to source in North America. Some of our discoveries had less to do with practicality than curiosity. During our research, we discovered that tens of millions of bubbles burst during baking to form essentially one bubble that winds throughout the bread. These are just two of the many findings we share in Modernist Bread.

  • The sad tale of North American rye
  • How to unslice bread
  • The physics of making really big bread
  • Supercharged yeast
  • How to optimize levain for sweet breads
  • Ingredients for a soft crumb
  • The coolest way to store your bread
  • Why breads age differently
  • What’s denser: brioche or whipped cream?
  • How much do purees affect volume?
  • How thirsty is your flour
  • How to rescue overproofed dough
  • Bread is a clear gel when you look close enough
  • Dough is a heat pipe—and that’s a good thing
  • How many bubbles are in a loaf of bread?
  • The real reason steam makes crust crispy
  • What our massive bread recipe database revealed
  • Yeast isn’t as fragile as we think