Challah for beginners, baking for modernists

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Bread isn’t just Oprah’s favorite food. To food scientist Nathan Myhrvold, it’s art. The intersection of art and food is the topic at the center of Myhrvold’s new five-volume collection, Modernist Bread. After flipping through the 2,642 pages of his latest opus, readers might start seeing the little holes throughout their loaves as steam tunnels, perhaps breaking out the bicycle pump to fluff up their dough. Hey, why not?

When it came to shooting the different types of bread, Myhrvold said they needed to get creative. “Bread starts as brown, and only gets browner,” he notes. Nevertheless, the photography in the collection is stunning and allows readers to look at the popular food through an extreme microscope.

Here is a recipe suitable for beginning bakers. Myhrvold’s challah bread involves patience, glyph systems, and some braiding practice.