A Look Inside: The Science of Bread

Making bread is both an art and a science. Bread may seem simple, but in fact, it is highly technological and scientific—it’s actually a biotech product whose creation requires harnessing the power of microorganisms that ferment. The laws of nature govern baking just like they govern everything else in the world. Knowing which laws affect your bread helps; understanding technology helps, too.

Focusing on bread has given us the opportunity to explore such wide-ranging scientific topics as the structure of gluten and the physics of ovens. As you’ll discover in Modernist Bread, the science of baking is endlessly fascinating.

  • What kind of stuff is dough?
  • How bubbles are born
  • The anatomical feature we share with yeast
  • Why some flatbreads puff up
  • How Saccharomyces cerevisiae reproduces
  • The sweet spot for cold-proofing
  • The physics of ovens
  • The chemistry of reviving stale bread
  • Why every baker is a microbiologist
  • Why some doughs don’t need to be scored
  • Why does bread smell so flipping fantastic?
  • The Maillard reaction and bread
  • Why bread takes so long to bake
  • What happens inside dough
  • Sourdough science
  • The science of measuring your loaf temperature
  • The science of boiling bagels
  • The role of enzymes in bread
  • Why water is weird
  • How bread loses weight as it bakes
  • The heat pipe effect
  • How gluten develops