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It arrived last night after over a year of waiting. It was packaged essentially the same as Modernist Cuisine was, with an outer brown cardboard box and recycled molded cardboard corner spacers around an inner box. The books and stainless steel case were in perfect condition. It’s morethan fifty pounds of book (almost 54 in the packaging), so don’t hurt yourself getting it inside!

So far I’ve only explored the first two volumes in any depth but I’ve really been impressed so far. Modernist Cuisine tried to be an all-inclusive reference to savory cooking in a modernist style, and that’s an overwhelming breadth of topics. Even at 2,400 pages, there were many topics that were better covered as single subjects in other books. It was also their first book and there were some rough edges to be seen, though it was still a magnificent achievement.

Bread however succeeds in several ways that Cuisine didn’t. It’s essentialy 2,600 pages on a single subject and they can really dig into things in great depth. It doesn’t hurt that the single subject is something that I love, so rather than having varying interest in the recipes in Cuisine, Bread is just a never ending wonderment of bready goodness.

Bread is also unburdened by the exotic equipment and ingredients that made most of Cuisine inaccessible to home cooks once you got past the Mac & Cheese. Almost everything in Bread looks like it should be accessible to any dedicated home cook, and with very little special equipment (no Roto-Vap, Ultra Centrifuge, or Anti-griddles in sight).

The information density seems higher than in Cuisine, and I’m really learning a lot. Even their history section in volume 1 is extensive and well researched and quite interesting. They have an even longer chapter on nutrition and diet this time, but it’s similar to that from Cuisine and they debunk most fads and most “common wisdom” about diet and health.

There’s a little bit of redundancy in the writing (they’ve already explained “Baker’s Percentages” to me three times now), but overall I’m quite impressed with the quality as well as both breadth and depth of the writing. Again, significantly more than I am with Cuisine. Bread just feels much more polished.

The production quality, binding, and the illustrations are at least as good and probably better than Cuisine. The over 5,000 images are stunningly good and of the highest resolution. The volumes are oversize and just at the limit of something you can hold in your lap and read comfortably. In this respect the set is easily worth the price as an object of art to display and enjoy, even if you only ever admire it.

But unlike Cuisine, Bread really screams “you can make all these things!” and I’m already hungrily looking forward to getting into the kitchen (though I feel like i should read most of the first three volumes a couple times first lol).

I won’t bore you with the detailed contents this time since you can find that on their web site, but I’ll mention a couple things that have struck me so far. First, the Kitchen Manual is much larger and contains pretty much everything you need to take into the kitchen with you to attempt any of the recipes from the book. It’s again printed on plastic or plasticized waterproof paper with a lay flat spiral binding.

The stainless steel case is nice and probably less subject to breakage than the acrylic case from Cuisine. It’s thin, but seems fairly sturdy and is very well constructed without visible seams or welds between panels.

I’ll be back to update this review once I’ve finished reading more of the how-to, and after I make some bread.

But after spending a year wondering if this was really going to be worth the price, I’m really happy that I bought it and I think you will be too.

No question about stars, it gets all of them.


P.S. The Cast-Iron Combination Cooker they use is this one: Lodge LCC3 Cast Iron Combo Cooker, Pre-Seasoned, 3.2-Quart

Update 1: I’ve been working my way through more of the content, and the volume of information is simply overwhelming (while deep and interesting at the same time). I have to laugh now at the few one-star troll reviews that fail to believe one could actually need something like this to make bread as they have no idea what they are missing.

This really is going to be a classic work on baking bread I think, and it’s just more impressive every day. The depth and complexity actually run the risk of being a turn off to some people as you may start to feel like you’re going to need to spend a few years studying the books before you’re qualified to try anything. I think just jumping in and picking something and giving it a try will be the best way to start. More reports to come!

Corona update May 2020: Well, I’ve dusted off the set and have been having fun with it during the recent unpleasantness. Getting ingredients has been a challenge as even though all-purpose flour is readily available, good luck finding whole-wheat or bread flour, and yeast also remains elusive at times. But creativity will be rewarded!

My latest advice for people coming to this “book” is to go directly to the recipes in volume 4/5 and pick out something basic to start with and just go for it. As you see steps or terms that are unfamiliar, go back into the instructions in the earlier volumes just enough to resolve your current conundrum. Then while the dough is rising you can sit back and read more of the details and background which is indeed fascinating. Even if your first attempts don’t come out perfectly, they are likely to be delicious warm with a little butter and honey on top. So don’t be overwhelmed!

This set is just the perfect thing for these dark times.

Modernist Bread Epub

Modernist Bread provides a revolutionary new understanding of one of the most important staples of the human diet. Created by the team that published the critically acclaimed Modernist Cuisine: The Art and Science of Cooking, this James Beard Award–winning encyclopedia of practical knowledge and groundbreaking techniques captures over four years of independent research and collaborations with leading industry professionals. The result is the most in-depth look at bread to date. Stunning photography brings the complete story of bread to life across five volumes―uncover its incredible history, loaves from every corner of the world, and the breath-taking beauty of scientific phenomena at work above and below the crust.

In Modernist Bread, you will discover innovative recipes and techniques developed by the Modernist Cuisine team that have not been published anywhere else. Housed in a sleek stainless-steel case, this five-volume set contains more than 1,500 traditional and avant-garde recipes, as well as a wire-bound kitchen manual so that you can easily bring all the recipes into the kitchen in one compact collection. Spanning over 2,600 pages, Modernist Bread will become an invaluable resource for anyone who has a thirst for knowledge about bread or wants to advance their craft. This book is a call to arms for any baker―whether you are a strict traditionalist, avid Modernist, home baker, restaurant chef, or artisanal baker―to embrace the possibilities of invention and follow your inspiration to make breads in your own way.

About the Author

Nathan Myhrvold is founder of The Cooking Lab and lead author of Modernist Cuisine: The Art and Science of Cooking, Modernist Cuisine at Home, The Photography of Modernist Cuisine, Modernist Bread, and the forthcoming book Modernist Pizza. He routinely pushes the boundaries of culinary science as a chef, scientist, photographer, and writer. He has had a passion for food and photography since he was a boy. At a young age he consumed cooking books and invested in new cameras and lenses—even while doing postdoctoral cosmology work with Stephen Hawking. While working as the chief technology officer of Microsoft, he took a leave of absence to earn his culinary diploma from École de Cuisine La Varenne in France. Nathan retired from Microsoft in 1999 to found Intellectual Ventures and pursue several interests, including his lifelong passion for photography, cooking, and food science. Inspired by the void in literature about culinary science and the cutting-edge techniques used in the world’s best restaurants, Myhrvold assembled the Modernist Cuisine team to share the art and science of cooking with others. Myhrvold opened Modernist Cuisine Gallery in 2017 after receiving continued requests to buy the photography found in his books. With locations in Las Vegas, New Orleans, Seattle, and La Jolla, the gallery features large-scale, limited-edition prints of Myhrvold’s art and is the first gallery in the world to focus solely on food photography by a single artist.

Francisco Migoya leads the Modernist Cuisine culinary team as head chef and is coauthor of Modernist Bread. Together with Nathan Myhrvold, he directs culinary research and the development of new techniques and recipes. Migoya, Myhrvold, and the rest of the Modernist Cuisine team are currently conducting research and writing their next book, Modernist Pizza. An innovative pastry chef, Migoya’s book, The Elements of Dessert (John Wiley & Sons, 2012), won a 2014 International Association of Culinary Professionals Cookbook Award in the Professional Kitchens category. He has been recognized as a top US pastry chef and chocolatier with accolades that include the Medal of Master Artisan Pastry Chef (2013) from Gremi de Pastisseria de Barcelona. Migoya owned Hudson Chocolates in New York and worked at both The French Laundry and Bouchon Bakery as executive pastry chef. Prior to joining the Modernist Cuisine team, Migoya was a professor at The Culinary Institute of America where his areas of instruction included bread, viennoiserie, pastry, and culinary science.

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