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Since we’re all baking bread, let’s watch the 5 best bread-baking episodes on Netflix

Everything a nation in lockdown needs to know about bread recipes, ingredients, and philosophy

Watching Samin Nosrat make Ligurian focaccia will make you make this face, too.
| Image: Netflix

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Get out that sourdough starter you’ve been saving: Bread-baking is one of the hottest recent micro-trends. With so many people looking for inexpensive ways to occupy themselves, working from home with more time than usual on their hands, there’s been an uptick in appetite for taking on more time-consuming home projects — and making bread has a particular appeal, since it’s homey, hands-on, and the process ends with a carb-laden comfort-food treat.

If you’re thinking about getting into bread, too, and need a little extra inspiration beyond your friends’ bread Instagram posts, the five best bread episodes of Netflix cooking shows might help. There’s a bread episode out there for every bread mood: actually wanting to bake something, wanting to watch other people bake something, or just wanting to look at lovingly filmed loaves of bread.

Salt Fat Acid Heat
Episode 1, “Fat”

If you’re actually looking to bake something and need someone to walk you through the process, chef Samin Nosrat has you covered. Each episode of Salt Fat Acid Heat covers one of Nosrat’s eponymous four proposed elements of successful cooking, so they don’t focus on a single food so much as the different ways each element can be used in different foods. That said, the “Fat” episode features a truly beautiful Ligurian focaccia bread. As Nosrat travels through Italy, she looks at fats in foods such as olive oil, meat, and cheese, but the focaccia is really a showstopper. Luckily, Salt Fat Acid Heat is part practical cooking show, and she provides a recipe for the bread so you can make it at home, too.

four people stand around a three-tiered bread
Take a gander at that Korovai!
Image: BBC

The Great British Baking Show
Collection 6, Episode 3, “Bread Week”

Everyone’s favorite baking competition doesn’t provide much practical baking advice — the show is more about marveling at lovely baked goods and getting swept up into the friendships the contestants forge through the run of the show. There’s still some explanation about how bread works, though, from the hosts and from the contestants themselves, as they struggle to make the most beautiful bread masterpieces possible. Collection 6 features some of the most charming contestants — anxious Rahul Mandal and twee Kim-Joy — and the Bread Week showstopper, a three-tiered Korovai, brings out some baked goods that must be seen to be believed.

pizza dough covered in cheese
A pizza in progress.
Image: Netflix

Ugly Delicious
Season 1, Episode 1, “Pizza”

David Chang’s Ugly Delicious is more about food and the people who make it (and, to some extent, a documentary about Chang and his relationship with food as a restaurateur) than offering practical cooking advice, but there’s no getting around the fact that a key part of pizza, the subject of the series’ first episode, is dough. There’s a lot of discussion of pizza dough, how to make it, and what actually constitutes a pizza. Are certain toppings taboo? Do all the ingredients have to be Italian in order for a pizza to really be a pizza? Chang digs into all this and more as he travels all over the world — and makes a Domino’s detour — pursuing pizza (and the dough behind it) wherever it may be. What begins with dough — what goes into it, how it has to be baked — grows into a conversation about authenticity and how to classify a dish as it evolves.

a partially sliced baguette
I tell you what, that’s a beautiful baguette.
Image: Netflix

Chef’s Table
Volume 3, Episode 3, “Nancy Silverton”

Each episode of Chef’s Table profiles a professional chef, and Nancy Silverton (incidentally also a guest on Ugly Delicious) is the subject of the third volume’s third episode. Silverton is known for having popularized sourdough and artisan bread in the U.S., and Chef’s Table follows her journey through the culinary world, from opening La Brea Bakery (and finally coming up with a baguette that satisfied her) to giving up control over much of the baking process in order to produce more bread, to opening the restaurant Osteria Mozza. It’s a gorgeously shot episode, and everything it’s lacking in step-by-step instructions on how to get baking, yourself, it makes up for in sheer passion for bread.

Roy Choi, Jon Favreau, and Sam Raimi working with dough.
Just some guys making bread.
Image: Netflix

The Chef Show
Volume 3, Episode 4, “Pasta a la Raimi”

Jon Favreau’s Netflix series is one of the most relaxed out there, with the director inviting his famous friends over to hang out and cook with him and chef Roy Choi. One of the best episodes of the show features fellow director Sam Raimi (the Tobey Maguire Spider-Man movies, the Evil Dead series), who comes over to bake sourdough bread and biscuits, and make handmade pasta. Favreau and Choi walk Raimi — and the audience — through the baking process, discussing the kind of dough texture you want for the perfect biscuit, and revealing how they got emotionally attached to their sourdough starters.

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