Jenny v. Modernist Bread - Brioche

My new motto for 2019 is under promise and over deliver. In September, I began my take down of the Modernist Bread volumes and shared my bagel escapades. I still make those bagels every week and my New York born and raised husband loves them (so do I). I promised that battle brioche would be next and here I am hours away from the new year with a post! 

This Fall has been incredibly busy with EYBD, epic amounts of books in my monthly New Cookbook Reviews as well as gift guides and my Best Books of 2018. In early July we moved and I've still not fully unpacked but hope to finish that up soon. Then after Thanksgiving enter a horrible bout of the plague which rendered me quite useless in the baking department. I did manage to make a few cookies for ourselves and have hopes of baking some of our favorites in the next few weeks. 

Yesterday, I began the Sablée brioche from the Modernist Bread. By the time I had the dough ready for the overnight refrigeration, I was certain this post was not going to happen. The dough did not look like any brioche I had ever made before, or before, or before. I was without hope. 

This morning when I looked at the sad dough in the loaf pan I nearly gave up, but I persisted. I decided to bake that beast and I am so glad I did. It may not be the prettiest brioche I've ever made but it tastes incredible! I will tackle more of the brioche loaves in Modernist Bread and take more care while doing so but this loaf is delicious and that is all that matters to us. 

To explain this brioche, I've borrowed this phrasing from the Modernist website

"The French sweetened pastry dough pâté sablée is the namesake of this relatively easy brioche recipe from Modernist Bread, and we borrow from it the traditional pastry-making technique of rubbing or cutting the fat into the flour. We recommend using a food processor to most efficiently accomplish that task. This technique will greatly reduce mixing time and reduce stress on the dough. The eggs and milk are blended in at the end, unlike with most other brioche recipes, which signal to add them early in the mix."

The goal is to have brioche that pulls apart in lofty strands. I'll aim for that next time. Right now, I'm content to have this buttery bread for breakfast with some jam.

Note: The errata link for both Modernist Bread and Modernist Cuisine have been added to the "note" section of each library record. 

Jenny vs. Modernist Bread - Bagel Battle

Earlier this year, I purchased Modernist Cuisine from an author friend who was downsizing. Due to my obsessive nature, I couldn't have one set of the books without the other so I took the plunge and ordered Modernist Bread. I'm already saving up for set three, Modernist Pizza. I really don't need both kidneys and these books are worth every penny.

My goal is to work my way through the bread volumes first and then hopefully crack open Cuisine. unless I slide an advanced pastry project in between. In May, I shared my project plans with an Emile Henry giveaway and today I'm going to chronicle my first experience - bagels. I've tagged all of these related articles as #modernistbread for easy reference.

For those who would like a look inside the Modernist sets, we have EYBD Previews set up as follows:  Cuisine   and Bread  . Both sets of books are indexed: Modernist Cuisine has a whopping 714 recipes and Modernist Bread is indexed by volume number 1 through 5 with almost 1,000 recipes. Please note that the EYBD Preview for Bread is available on the library record for the set. Those who own Modernist Bread - please be sure you add the individual volumes to your bookshelf so you are able to search the index. 

I wanted to start this Modernist Bread project after I was settled into our new home which has a large kitchen with a DIY baking island made from our old dining table - this allows me the space and organization to work efficiently. If I would have began the project while packing, moving and working, I think my husband would have been a casualty of my too many projects. It would be a slam dunk case with bagel DNA embedded in the strangulation marks on his neck.

In early August after getting somewhat settled, I began experimenting with bagel recipes before tackling Modernist Bread's version. As you can see from my photographs below, I've come a long way - or at least I think I have. The first recipe I tried was King Arthur's recipe and I used the Leuke bagel molds which I found helped with the boiling portion. Using the molds provides a handle (the top of the cone) for the boiling portion without the need to use a spider that sometimes makes indentations in the dough. However, I didn't like the unnatural shape of the holes - too perfectly round which happened when I used the molds to bake the bagels as well. I've read online reviews that recommend removing the molds before baking to avoid the cartoonish bagel look in picture 1 below of the collage.  

I've always shied away from bagel and most bread baking thinking that it was just too much trouble - but I was wrong. Bagels are incredibly approachable. I've made ten batches since I began this project in the last five weeks and each time it has become easier. For the record, I have tried:

  • King Arthur's Bagel (I used the Asiago recipe but omitted the cheese) - good flavor, not easily rolled. Using the molds left them looking a bit odd and I believe I made them too small. I made the King Arthur version again without the molds. 
  • Washington Post's Bagel  - better shape, but not as flavorful, using a steel or stone suggestion was great - but trust me you want a Baking Steel - it is worth every penny and then some. You can use it for breads, bagels, pizza (look for a promotion soon with Mastering Pizza to win a steel of your own). Using the Baking Steel made a huge difference.
  • Ruhlman's  - found to be close to the other bagel recipes, don't need to brush egg on bagels for the toppings to stick because to me half the fun are crumbs of the everything mixture that are left on the plate to snack on after the bagel
  • Stella Parks - found to be close in texture and flavor to the above mentioned recipes
  • My own adaption of King Arthur and Washington Post recipes - provided good results 
  • Reinhart and Smitten Kitchen - the best tasting of all of the mentioned recipes - that is, until I made the Modernist Bread recipe 
  • Modernist Bread (three times)

All the bagel recipes produced results that were better than anything I could purchase here in Colorado and yes even better than those we could buy back home on Long Island. Deb Perelman's adaptation of Peter Reinhart's recipe is incredible and was the winner until I cracked open Modernist Bread.

After putting all these bagels to the test, I decided I was ready for Modernist Bread's version. To my great surprise and relief, Modernist's version was similar but different and yielded the easiest dough to work with, the best shape by far and absolutely the most perfect bagel ever. I did not, however, use the lye bath - but my combination of baking soda and malt powder. I don't need my bagels to be super dark and saw no reason to go to that length.

The Modernist bagel had a perfectly crisp crust (this is from the cold proofing), chewy interior and incredible New York bagel flavor. My son's bus driver and aid are from New York, they loved the Smitten Kitchen version - as did all the staff at the school - until they had the Modernist bagel. They agreed by far that Modernist's was the best tasting bagel of all the ones I shared with them.

Now that I have exorcised myself from the surly bonds of Modernist Bread fear, I am ready to try my next recipe - brioche. I've made brioche before using Huckleberry's recipe (both the blueberry and simple brioche) but now I'm ready for the big guns.  

Disclaimer: I purchased the Modernist volumes myself. My opinion is 100 percent my own backed by a few trusted New Yorkers including my husband. What clinched my decision that this was the best recipe was based on the ease of working with the dough and the taste.

If you need me, I'll be in the kitchen starting my next batch of bagels. 

Jenny v. Modernist Bread - Emile Henry Giveaway

A little over a year ago I shared with you The Making of a Cookbook Collector, the story of how my love of cooking and baking blossomed into a full blown obsession. While I have always been a fearless cook and baker, I've never deeply delved into the art of creating bread. Sure, I have baked a loaf or two, but my goal is to learn everything about bread from the starter to the shaping - to the perfect crumb and crust - and that is where Modernist Bread: The Art and Science by Nathan Myhrvold and Francisco J. Migoya comes into play. 

Modernist Bread is a guide to the science of bread baking (see this article for more information)  and follows in the footsteps of Modernist Cuisine which is also indexed for our members.  Modernist Cuisine shares science-inspired techniques for preparing food that ranges from the otherworldly to the sublime and our shows a brilliant look inside. For those who want to begin exploring these sets, the Modernist Cuisine at Home is a perfect stepping stone. The Cooking Lab is working on their next project - Modernist Pizza and I am hoping for a Modernist Pastry set soon! 

Back to bread, ourprovides a beautiful look inside Modernist Bread and each volume of the five book set is indexed as follows:

At the moment, we are in house limbo. We will finally have our house on the market this coming week and if all goes well, we will be moving within the next two months or sooner. When I am in my new home, I will begin my deep exploration of bread using Modernist Bread and a number of wonderful products from Emile Henry including this gorgeous Bread Cloche

Founded in 1850, and located in Marcigny, a small town in the province of Burgundy, France, Emile Henry has established a worldwide reputation for manufacturing the finest quality ceramic ovenware, gourmet cooking products, and bakeware products. Still owned and operated by the Henry family, the company today manufactures all of their new cooking products from Burgundy clay using their proprietary High Resistance Oven Ceramic state-of-the-art manufacturing process. 

Their products are not only beautiful but durable. Specifications are as follows:

  • Burgundy clay evenly and slowly diffuses cooking heat to the very center of the cooking dish. Food is cooked evenly, which brings out the flavors and aromas. Burgundy clay has superior heat retention properties which keep food hot and more flavorsome when resting on the dining table or on a kitchen sideboard.
  • All Emile Henry products are direct freezer-to-oven. They exhibit extraordinary thermal shock properties. They go under the broiler and in the microwave.
  • Emile Henry products do not chip or crack easily. One can cut directly on the surface without scratching or damaging the product.
  • The surfaces do not trap and hold baked on or burnt food. Cleaning is remarkably easy. All Emile Henry products can go in the dishwasher.
  • There is no lead or cadmium in their products, all of the glazes meet California Prop 65, and all of the products are 100% food safe. Offered in a large variety of colors, the glazes will not craze, discolor or fade over time.
  • All Emile Henry products carry a limited household ten (10) year warranty against breakage due to defective workmanship.

There are certain brands that signify class and craftsmanship and Emile Henry is certainly one of those. I love the Bread/Potato Pot and use it often to make roasted potatoes - so easily to flip the pot instead of using a spatula to turn potatoes over to roast evenly and not to mention the stunning factor when serving as these gorgeous products go from oven to tabletop in style. Emile Henry's Baquette  and Bread Cloche are going to accompany me on my journey through bread baking and I hope that you will follow along. 

This is a project I am extremely excited to begin and I feel that working my way through Modernist Bread will be the equivalent of a culinary course in bread. The team behind Modernist is offering me their support and I hope that you will also cheer me along. Those who live nearby may be the recipient of loaves of incredibly fresh baked bread! All my posts on this series will be tagged #modernistbread. 

To celebrate this project, Emily Henry has generously offered one of our members a beautiful Bread Cloche for your baking needs. To enter scroll down to our giveaway which consists of the cloche only, please support our sponsors for these giveaways by completing all the entries where you can. 


Emile Henry is offering one cloche to EYB Members in the US. One of the entry options is to answer the following question in the comments section of this blog post.

Which Emile Henry product would you like to try first?

Please note that you must be logged into the Rafflecopter contest before posting or your entry won't be counted. For more information on this process, please see our step-by-step help post. Be sure to check your spam filters to receive our email notifications. Prizes can take up to 6 weeks to arrive from the publishers. If you are not already a Member, you can join at no cost. The contest ends at midnight on July 9th, 2018.

Special thanks to Emile Henry for providing me with two of their stunning products for my Modernist Bread project and for providing a cloche in this giveaway. I own Emile Henry products and highly recommend this brand for its quality, craftsmanship and beauty.

I purchased Modernist Bread for purposes of this project and this set of books is not a part of the giveaway. 

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