Cover of book Bread Lab!

Kim Binczewski and Bethany Econopouly (’18 PhD Crop Sci.)

Readers to Eaters, 2018


Explore the magic—and science—of bread baking in this bright, slim, straightforward, hardbound children’s book, published in cooperation with the Bread Lab at Washington State University in Mount Vernon, and sponsored by the Bread Bakers Guild of America.

Aunt Mary, a plant scientist whom young Iris affectionately calls “Plant Mary,” comes over with a Saturday morning mission: “Let’s turn your kitchen into a bread lab, Iris!” They spend the day making whole wheat sourdough bread from scratch with just four ingredients: sourdough starter, whole wheat flour, water, and salt. And they make it seem so easy. Of course, that’s the point.

This volume aims to inspire young bakers and their families to not only bake their own loaves but consider where the wheat was grown and milled. It includes playful illustrations and sensory details—sounds, smells, tastes—to engage young readers.

The character of Aunt Mary, inspired by agriculturalist and coauthor Bethany Econopouly, serves as a conversation starter about women in science. Iris—curious, congenial, and a diligent notetaker (she tracks the process of making bread step-by-step in her notebook)—sports red glasses and a halo of curly hair. She’s biracial, her dad is black, and her mom—and Aunt Mary—are white.

The back of the book features a baker’s dozen of bread facts, plus a diagram of a wheat berry depicting the bran, germ, and endosperm, as well as an easy-to-follow recipe for whole wheat sourdough bread.

Coauthor Kim Binczewski is the managing director of the Bread Lab. A short “About the Bread Lab” section at the end of the book is written by the director, Stephen S. Jones.