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Modernist BreadCrumbs
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Modernist BreadCrumbs

Author: Heritage Radio Network

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Modernist Cuisine founder Nathan Myhrvold and head chef Francisco Migoya join Michael Harlan Turkell on Modernist BreadCrumbs, a special series taking a new look at one of the oldest staples of the human diet: bread. Each episode explores bread from a different angle; from its surprising and often complicated past, to the grains, tools, and microbes we use to make it, and the science behind every loaf. The show looks at the discoveries and techniques from Modernist Bread, as well as interviews with the scientists and bakers who are shaping the future of bread.
19 Episodes
In this episode, we’re exploring the intersection of bread and art, and the idea of bread as art. From Renaissance paintings of The Last Supper (complete with pretzels) and still lifes from the Dutch Golden Age to scoring videos on Instagram—the aesthetics of bread, and all that it symbolizes, have long been on display.
It’s a season of celebration, and no matter what you’re celebrating, that usually means baking. Sweet or savory, traditional or cutting-edge, more people fire up their ovens during the holiday season than any other time of the year. In this episode, we're exploring holiday breads and the traditions that bring us back to them, year after year.
We're going down the rabbit hole of breads with holes! From the New York vs Montreal bagel debate—and the power of water and lye—to the twists and turns of pretzel history, focusing on the presence of negative space is a positive thing.
We're hopping in our Winne-bread-go and hitting the road—to explore the state of regional breads in America! We'll travel to New Orleans for a Po'boy, New England for Anadama, and to Appalachia for Salt Rising Bread, all in search of an answer to the question, "Is there a regional bread culture in the United States?"
Flatbreads and quick breads may seem like strange oven-fellows, but hear us out. In the Venn Diagram of bread baking, they both fall in the overlap of “speed” and “differently leavened.” So we're firing up the tonir, the tandoor, the griddle, the bastible, the wok, and even a rock, to travel around the world through bread.
Bread has been paired with other fermentations for millennia—with beer in Russian literature, wine in religious texts, and cheese in sandwiches around the world every day. What is it about bread that makes it a natural ally to these fermented products? Well, bread itself is a fermented product. In this episode, we’ll look at co-fermentations and variations on the process of yeast eating sugar and releasing carbon dioxide.
Industrialization, and the semi-dwarf wheat developed during the Green Revolution, created a disconnect between farming and flour. But now, consumers are rejecting these commodities and rediscovering the foods, flavors, and farmers around us. This episode is about the growing movement to bring back heritage grains and strengthen local and regional food systems. In direct opposition of the Green Revolution, we’re going to hear from the front lines of the “Grain Revolution."
Episode 9: Mother, May I?

Episode 9: Mother, May I?


Welcome to Season Two of Modernist BreadCrumbs!It seems only natural—and appropriately poetic—to start this season talking about starters. They’re the inception of the loaf, the first step. You don’t need a starter to make bread, but the story of cultivating yeast from the environment around us—whether you call it “starter,” “culture,” “levain," or “mother"—is what we’re focusing on in this episode, from microbes to miche.We'll hear from Executive Producer Michael Harlan Turkell about his "mother," baker Sarah Owens about her "Beast," microbial ecologists Dr. Erin McKenney and Dr. Rob Dunn of "The Sourdough Project," and, of course, the co-authors of "Modernist Bread," Nathan Myhrvold and Francsico Migoya.
Season 2 Trailer

Season 2 Trailer


Modernist Cuisine founder Nathan Myhrvold and head chef Francisco Migoya are back with Jordan Werner Barry and Michael Harlan Turkell for season two of Modernist BreadCrumbs, a special series taking a new look at one of the oldest staples of the human diet: bread. This season builds on where we “startered” last year, looking at the discoveries and techniques from Modernist Bread and interviewing the bakers, scientists, chefs, authors, millers, and Bread Heads who are shaping the future of bread. We’ll take deep dives into the microbial world, regional grain projects, flatbreads, and breads with holes, but we’ll also step back and look at how bread intersects with culture, fermentation, immigration, art, and tradition. Fire up your oven and follow the breadcrumbs.
Episode 8: Breadbox

Episode 8: Breadbox


This is Episode Eight of Modernist BreadCrumbs: “Breadbox.”Bread is immeasurable, no longer bound by precepts. The new dictum of baking bread is built on shapes and sizes we haven’t even dreamt of. This episode, the proverbial breadbox of the series, will hold all the bits of bread we haven’t gotten to yet, or have yet to be made.Modernist BreadCrumbs is a special collaborative podcast series with Heritage Radio Network and Modernist Cuisine, that takes a fresh look at one of the oldest staples of the human diet—bread. Although it may seem simple, bread is much more complex than you think.From the microbes that power fermentation to the economics of growing grain, there’s a story behind every loaf. Each episode will reveal those stories and more, beginning with bread’s surprising and often complicated past, from the perspective of people who are passionate about bread, and shaping its future.
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