The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Modernist bread

caryn's picture
caryn

Modernist bread

i am very curious about Myhrvold‘s  read encyclopedia-Modernist Bread. Has anyone on FreshLoaf seen or purchased it? I know that it is very expensive but I would love to hear from any of you who may own it or had the opportunity to see it. 

jimbtv's picture
jimbtv

A search of the TFL archives using "Myhrvold" turns-up many hits.

 

suave's picture
suave

But none of it is from the actual owners.

andythebaker's picture
andythebaker

but i work professionally and considered it an investment (like going to a class).

overall i'm pleased with having it, but having read through hamelman's bread (and having the good fortune of taking a class with him (he's awesome!)) it covers a lot of familiar territory, but in a pretty way.  i'm still digging through it for the little nuggets of info here and there.

there is one truly fascinating thing i'm doing from the book: i'm currently trying out an osmotolerant levain.  i learned here (from mini oven?) that how you treat the levain cultivates the particular yeast that you want.  take that a step further, create a levain with sugar in it, cultivate the yeasts that will do well with sugar, and it will do just fine in a sweet dough!  who knew?

(well, maybe the amish?  you know, like, ever get an amish friendship starter?)

any questions, let me know.

~andrew

Filomatic's picture
Filomatic

Thanks, that's illuminating.

giancaem's picture
giancaem

Hey Andrew, I have a few questions about that osmotolerant levain you mentioned. For starters what percentage of sugar would be appropriate to add to the starter feedings? And along that line, would you have to always add sugar to the feedings, or can you just continue feeding as normal once the starter becomes osmotolerant?

-Giancarlo

andythebaker's picture
andythebaker

so i have several levains, and the liquid osmotolerant levain i'll probably discard after the holidays (aka when i go on a diet) and start back up as needed.  it's fed every 12 hours (kept at "room temperature" 20-22c/68-72f) with the following proportions

  flour 100%

  water 100%

  sugar 20%

  levain 25%

i'd give it several days of feedings before using.

giancaem's picture
giancaem

Thank you Andrew, will definitely give it a go!

-Giancarlo

MichaelLily's picture
MichaelLily

I also have it. I am also a professional and likewise considered it an investment. Very beautiful book. Informative and thorough.  I have entered the book with extensive practice and quite a bit of knowledge and understanding. I love it and the amazon price was inexplicably $415 on the day I looked at it so I pulled the trigger. I am still only partway through the first volume.

suave's picture
suave

This is not the first time I hear the story of the fluctuating price.  A friend of mine told me she got it even cheaper.  I wonder if putting it on my wish list locked me at the list price.

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

(to bring up another subject)  Would a yeast water fed sugar, in any form... fruit, honey, sugar, fructose/dextrose  also be osmotolerant?  

Although yeast water (YW) can raise a dough in it's own right, it might explain it's popularity as an additive. Seems to boost all around yeast activity in straight and sourdoughs from what I've been reading written by those using YW on the forum.  

Mini O ears ringing  

Lechem's picture
Lechem

It added oomph on its own as YW does have a better oven spring but doesn't have a direct affect on the other types of yeast. If you catch my meaning. Unless I've misunderstood. 

starvingviolist's picture
starvingviolist

Two thoughts on this. One yes, because the issue they identify with enriched doughs is the osmotic pressure exerted by the sugar. Two, yes, their argument is that any starter will adapt to its feeding conditions, so it makes sense to feed your started a similar mix of ingredients that will be used in the final dough.

smaxson's picture
smaxson

For the holidays I make an old Swedish rye bread recipe my mother learned from her grandmother. There is a lot of molasses and brown sugar, and mostly white flour (premium flour in the north). The sponge is made starting with 3 tablespoons of sugar in the water, then yeast and flour added. I suspect that the sponge is already starting the selection process for at least slightly osmotolerant yeast. Anyway, things don't stop when the rye, molasses, brown sugar, salt, etc., is added. I don't think that the (scalded) rye is enough to overcome toe osmotic potential of the sugars in the recipe. I haven't made other high sugar breads, so cannot comment definitively, but I just have my suspicions.

starvingviolist's picture
starvingviolist

I am an avid home baker, and I love it. I have had immediate success with the recipes and methods, and I have found the material to be interesting and beautifully presented. A lot of the core bread recipes are quite similar to what you would find in Tartine, FWSY, Hamilman, Leader, Leahy or Reinhardt, but there is a lot more information, more thoroughly worked through than any non-billionaire bakers would ever have time to do, and the perspective they bring is very refreshing.

Arjon's picture
Arjon

In my case, I'm not serious enough about baking bread to buy it even though the cost isn't prohibitive. It's high, but I could afford it if I wanted the books enough. 

But if my local library happens to get it, I'm definitely serious enough to have a look at it even though I doubt there's any real chance my feelings about buying it will change. 

MichaelLily's picture
MichaelLily

Honestly anyone who has been to college in the last 20 years has no right to balk at the price.

giancaem's picture
giancaem

Definitely a bargain, 5 books for the price of 2!

Portus's picture
Portus

... $523.35 Amazon new, and $702.19 - $784.55 Used/pre-owned - "Very Good" to "Like New" condition.  For the latter I would prefer them to be signed editions!

hanseata's picture
hanseata

after first thinking it was just a wealthy tech guy's hyped up pet project (actually, Myhrvold seems to be something like a genius).

I watched the presentation of the development and purpose of the books at the Kneading Conference in Skowhegan/ME this summer and was so impressed that I ordered "Modernist Bread".

Though I still don't know whether I'm good enough to deserve this Rolls Royce of baking books I'm quite happy with my purchase. I'm currently reading the first volume, and find it's fascinating and very well written, apart from the beautiful photos.

Karin

caryn's picture
caryn

Karin and all that have responded- I know what you mean- I sure am tempted to buy this set and have tried to rationalize such a purchase—— like that I am usually so frugal and spend very little on things like jewelry etc, but I am waiting a bit since I may see if I can borrow it from a library first. I just want to make sure that this is not a passing whim for me. I do know a fair amout about bread baking, but I am always curious to learn more, and very curious if Myhrvold has some innovative ideas. I recently borrowed the newist book by Lahey, “The Sullivan Street Bakery Cookbook,” and he described a mixing technique that I had never seen- mixing the dough at high speed with a mixer paddle. I tried it and the bread came out really well, so I learned something new and that is rewar. However, even if I should purcphase that book, its price isn’t even close to to the Myhrvold one!

caryn's picture
caryn

So I got a coupon from Barnes and Noble for 25% off that is good until tomorrow, getting the price down to about $400. I am torn about making this splurge when I already have a fairly large collection of bread books. What do you think?

andmyr's picture
andmyr

Can someone who has read the book tell me what are some of the techniques that affect the flavours of a sourdough.

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

Are you looking for an outline or to change the water or type of flour or length of fermentation or source of heat or duration of dough handling or type of starter, pure cultures or wild ones?  

mariana's picture
mariana

Hi andmyr, 

the Modernist bread encyclopedia has a a few things to say about manipulating the flavor of a sourdough (bread, I assume that you are asking about sourdough bread flavors and aroma? )

1) In volume 2 (2.8, 2.21) they focus on aroma components and tell the reader that the sourdough aroma is the strongest 3-4 days after baking the sourdough loaf. 

2) in 4.56, 4.59 and 4.74-75 (Volume 4 of the book) they discuss instant sourdough flavor mixes, direct addition of lactic acid and of freeze dried starters to flavor the yeasted or sourdough breads (sourfaux). They discuss a variety of commercially available products of that sort which provide bakers with flavors of Provencal region sourdough, or from the Puglia region of Italy, etc. They teach readers how to successfully freeze dry your own starter for such applications. 

Obviously, the bread formulas are sources of flavor manipulation. They provide dozens if not hundreds of those sourdough recipes and variations as well, teaching the reader how to use teas or cheeses,  seawater or ramen, s/mores, charcoal, pressure-caramelized wheat berries and many other things to affect the flavors of a sourdough.

They also discuss the differences in flavors of different sourdough starters that they purchased on-line and tested in their Modernist kitchen. The starter of your choice is  the main factor that would affect your bread flavor. Different starters smell and taste as differently as tomato juice and apple juice, as milk or beer and they would affect your sourdough accordingly. 

mariana

 

andmyr's picture
andmyr

Hi Mini,Thanks for your response.I saw a video of the talk Francisco Migoya had at JWU Bread Symposyum,and in the youtube video I watched,he mentioned that some techniques like adding an onion to your sourdough,are bogus,and does not change,or affect the flavour of a sourdough or bread,so my question really is what does work, and what does not.Also any new discoveries of what gives bread or sourdough better flavour? Thanks

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

something, better or worse is the Q!  The amount and anti-bacterial qualities may affect one or more of the culture bacteria and eventually the aroma.  I'm into trying things.  I know that longer baking longer or hotter for a darker crust colour will improve flavour if you like that flavor.  Adding salt works too for some doughs, lowering for others like sweet breads.  Same with sugar. 

The obvious flavor enhancers would be choice of flour and water, followed by choice of culture to ferment and raise the dough. Tastes vary and have regional differences.   Where are you with your bread flavor and where would you like to go?  

the_partisan's picture
the_partisan

I was very interested in this book, but from the snippets I have seen of this book (from the Modernist Bread group on FB) it seems like all the recipes have some kind of additives (diastatic malt powder, polydextrose, wheat gluten etc?), which I don't really like the idea of.  They might produce good results, but still it's not the style of bread I would prefer to make. Is this fair to say? 

caryn's picture
caryn

You are correct in concluding that Myhrvold’s formulas use what might be considered additives. I, too, thought like you do, the-partisan, before going through his books. However, I see it differently after extensively reading his narratives. I think you need to ask yourself exactly what is an additive. You could consider most ingredients that are not flour and water as additives. There is nothing intrinsically negative about diastolic malt, for example. It is a product derived from a grain which promotes browning in bread baking. Vital gluten is a product of wheat that can also enhance the outcome of a bread. I am convinced that these additives are not really that different than adding eggs for an enriched bread or nuts for flavor and texture, or lemon peel in a cake or bread. That they ate somewhat unconventional for home bakers does not make the bread “less pure” than one made without these relatively new options. 

the_partisan's picture
the_partisan

I'm not sure, diastatic malt might be ok if you bother to make it at home (it doesn't seem that complex), but the rest are pushing it a bit  too much into processed food territory. Especially stuff like polydextrose. You can make excellent bread without these ingredients so why add them?

andythebaker's picture
andythebaker

or propylene glycol alginate, or sodium stearoyl lactylate.  but the clearly marked "modernist" versions of the recipes do.  (for example, there is a white sandwich formula on one page, then a "modernist" white sandwich formula on another).

it's interesting to examine the differences in the formulas, and read the stated reasons of what different additives do to achieve their desired outcome, but no, i don't plan on making any of "modernist" versions.

vital wheat gluten is used somewhat more in their recipes, but i try to avoid it.  i don't mind dense bread, but i bet i'd have trouble selling it.

all that said, though, i have a lovely diastatic malt powder (from breadtopia) that i use to boost my bread flour for my home bakes.  at work, we use the Artisan Baker's Craft flour from central milling that is "malted" and i'm thinking more and more that that's one of the biggest advantages of pro flours versus supermartket flours.  i'm still testing (i'm adding 1% at most to my KA bread flour (which yes, i know, already contains added malt)).  i could be wrong about that tho.

2 cents here.  max.  probably less.

~andrew