Volume 2 – Ingredients

Volume 2 of Modernist Bread begins to look closely at how bread is made. Chapter 6 on Making Bread is structured as an overview of the process that is explained in detail in later chapters. Here we look at the roles played by each of the key ingredients, strategies for planning to bake bread, and how to assess quality.

Chapter 7 closely explores Grains, beginning with the question: what is a grain, anyway? The chapter includes topics ranging from grain botany to how grains are grown and harvested, including the often-misunderstood notion of sustainable agriculture. We also look at the economics and politics of grains, including how technology has made grains more affordable—and how that same system has made so much of the world’s wheat fit a very specific profile.

Chapter 8 covers Flour, bread’s main ingredient, and the differences between types of flours. We also explore different types of milling, including big and industrial mills, small and artisanal enterprises, and home milling.

Next, chapter 9 focuses on Leaveners, including both commercial yeast and levain (sourdough starter), and all the ways they’re used to make bread. Chapter 10 covers Bread Ingredients other than the flour, water, and leavener that are integral to bread—here, the discussion turns to ingredients such as salt, fats, sugar, and dough improvers. Chapter 11 details Ingredient Preparation, including why prep is important, how to prepare different types of inclusions in bread, and how to avoid last-minute problems.