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Flour Water Salt Yeast: The Fundamentals of Artisan Bread and Pizza Hardcover – September 18, 2012

4.7 out of 5 stars 607 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


Winner, IACP Awards 2013- Baking: Savory or Sweet
Winner, James Beard Foundation Award 2013 -Baking and Dessert

“If books full of stunning bread porn — all craggy crusts, yeasty bubbles and floured work surfaces — are your thing, here's Flour Water Salt Yeast by Ken Forkish.”
—Eater National

"Legendary Portland baker Ken Forkish (of the watershed Ken's Artisan Bakery and much-loved Ken's Artisan Pizza) has joined the ranks of the lauded letterers with his mammoth new cookbookWater Flour Salt Yeast: The Fundamentals of Artisan Bread and Pizza. In Water Flour Salt Yeast, he aims to bring the spirit and quality of his famous crusty, blistered breads to the passionate home baker using those four titular ingredients."

“Exceptionally detailed and clearly written with dedicated bakers in mind. . . . Cooks and students who are serious about the craft of bread baking will definitely want to check out this title.”
—Library Journal

Forkish's instructions are clear, concise and incredibly precise... For true artisan bread lovers -- and homemade pizza fanatics -- this book sets a new standard."
—Oregonian, June 25, 2012

"Owner of Ken’s Artisan Pizza and Ken’s Artisan Bakery in Portland, Ore., Forkish begins by telling of the trials and tribulations of opening up shop (people didn’t want to pay $2.50 for a cup of herbal tea). Divided into four sections (“The Principles of Artisan Bread,” “Basic Bread Recipes,” “Levain Bread Recipes,” and “Pizza Recipes”), with recipes broken down by breads made with store-bought yeast, breads made with long-fermented simple doughs, and doughs made with pre-ferments, the book presents recipes accessible to novices, while providing a different approach for making dough to experienced bakers. Plenty of step-by-step photographs, along with a chapter outlining “Great Details for Bread and Pizza,” make this slim work a rival to any bread-baking tome. A variety of pizza recipes, including sweet potato and pear pizza and golden beets and duck breast “prosciutto” pizza, (along with an Oregon hazelnut butter cookie recipe), end the title and inspire readers to put on the apron and get out the flour.
—Publishers Weekly, 6/4/2012

 “Ken Forkish’s story is as unique, interesting, and delicious as his famous breads and pizzas. The man abandoned his past, courageously stepped off the cliff and followed his passion, and the result has been a gift to all of us: great breads, fabulous pizzas, and now this beautiful book—Flour Water Salt Yeast—in which he reveals all.”
—Peter Reinhart, author of Artisan Breads Every Day and The Joy of Gluten-Free, Sugar-Free Baking
“Ken nails it, end of story, when it comes to the best levain bread or the thinnest, most perfect pizza crust you’ve ever had. He has set the bar for Portland bakeries—that’s why we use his bread at Le Pigeon. For anybody looking to bake amazing bread at home, this book is a must-have.”
—Gabriel Rucker, chef/owner of Le Pigeon restaurant
“This fun book offers more than just top-quality bread. Flour Water Salt Yeast reveals all the formulas, processes, tips, and tricks Ken established in his years of experience as a professional baker. But most importantly, it teaches home bakers how to create their own bread using multiple schedules and ingredient combinations. Hey—all that without having to get up to bake in the middle of the night.”
—Michel Suas, founder of the San Francisco Baking Institute and author of Advanced Bread and Pastry
“Ken Forkish is an artisan for our times, and the kind of ‘handcraft-it-yourself’ dreamer who makes Portland, Oregon, one of America’s top food destinations. This book is a handsome expression of his bread-baking vision: Forkish is a man unbound, obsessed by the science of fermentation, and excitedly sharing hard-won secrets and exacting recipes from his celebrated sourdough laboratory.” 
—Karen Brooks, restaurant critic, Portland Monthly

About the Author

After a twenty-year career in the tech industry, KEN FORKISH decided to leave Silicon Valley and corporate America behind to become a baker. He moved to Portland, Oregon, and opened Ken's Artisan Bakery in 2001, followed by Ken's Artisan Pizza in 2006 and Trifecta Tavern in 2013. His first book, Flour Water Salt Yeast, won both a James Beard and IACP award.


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Ten Speed Press; 1 edition (September 18, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 160774273X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1607742739
  • Product Dimensions: 8.2 x 1 x 10.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (607 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,667 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By I. Lozada on September 21, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I've read many of the usual suspects of this genre: Jim Lahey, Chad Robertson, Amy's Bread, Peter Reinhart. You would think that there wasn't that much room for improvement based on what those fine books have taught. But what Ken Forkish has done here is not simply to give you recipes, but to teach you to think with the flexibility that bread baking demands, and to also demand creativity out of you to go past what's in the book.

One of the very best things about Ken's book is that he doesn't just throw recipes out there, then try to explain with a little blurb above them, or even, as Robertson did, to give an in-depth explanation after you've tried your hand at it. Instead, Ken goes and teaches you the concepts first, then goes and gives you a structure of recipe writing that helps you identify the concepts taught within the context of the recipe. You're going to feel more comfortable making the bread from the first attempt.

There's a lot here for the experienced bread baker here. Different mixes of flours, double fed levains, hybrid levain-commercial yeast solutions. There's a fantastic section on how to make recipes your own, whether it be about flour choices (and the different hydration requirements that some flours require), rearranging schedules to make your bread revolve around your life, the various options you have with levains, how to document your experimentation so that you can reproduce the results the next time.

Like Robertson and Lahey, he's baking in cast iron pots-- he prefers the smaller (and harder to find) 4 quart models, which contribute to higher rises in his opinion.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Even if you own dozens of bread books, as I do, you will find much to love about Ken Forkish's "Flour, Water, Salt, Yeast." One of my biggest difficulties in making bread at home has always been scoring the top of the loaf before baking it. Even when I use an oiled razor blade, I can't seem to make a clean cut in the top of the bread. The blade tugs at the dough and causes it to deflate. Ken Forkish solves this problem by recommending that you bake your bread with the seam side (as opposed to the smooth side) up and not scoring it at all. The natural fissures in the seam side of the bread will open up in the heat of the oven and create the same kind of effect you'd get from successfully scoring the top of the loaf. This information alone made the book worthwhile to me. The critics who complain that the book contains only a handful of recipes are correct but they are missing the point. This isn't one of those "1000 Ways To Make Bread at Home" books. This book is about the fundamentals of good home breadmaking.It is well-written, well-illustrated, and bursting with good advice. I recommend it heartily.
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Format: Hardcover
This book could easily receive one or five stars, depending on what you are looking for. It was perfect for me, but I would like to clarify exactly what it is you would get out of this book, and what you would not.

First off, if you are looking for a book of great, simple recipes that you can throw in the breadmaker real quick once you get home, this is NOT the book for you. If you're looking more for a diverse bread recipe book vs break knowledge, this is not the book for you.

This is a very good equivalent of a breadcrafting 101 textbook. Now, I say 'breadcrafting' vs just 'baking' because this book takes you far beyond "mix X and Y, bake at Z, eat." Using the same very simple ingredients (see title), you will make a variety of different flavors, based on times, ferments, etc. You will learn how to literally use temperature and times as ingredients and how these can make bread made with the very same ingredients VERY different. You will truly learn the basics of making great bread. I would note that this book also calls for a covered dutch oven to finally bake these loaves in, which will replace much in the way of expensive baking equipment and give a lovely crust.

For the book itself: There are literally over a hundred favored methods of breadmaking all over the world. This book contains a much smaller focused area than, say, Peter Reinhart's "Bread Baker's Apprentice". The recipes are for lean dough, non-enriched breads, made straight, with delayed fermentation, and finally as pure sourdough. The doughs he uses are very wet (usually well in excess of 70% hydration), and his preference to hand-forming everything in the bowl vs using a mixer, etc, will actually give some excellent groundwork in learning dough handling.
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By PMC on September 23, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
As another reviewer pointed out-- this is SO much more than a collection of steps and recipes. I've bought lots of bread cookbooks and have taken artisan bread making classes. But at first read THIS is the book I know I'll return to repeatedly. I can't explain his organization -- but it's perfect no matter whether you read cover to cover or jump in and start baking, or whether you are experienced or have never baked before.

Ken seems to understand that not everyone has a free 11-hour or more day to devote to bread making so suggests ways of starting bread at night then baking in early a.m. You learn the basics of how important time and temperature are and how to work with both. And each recipe includes full steps plus a helpful timeline: fermentation time, proofing time and a sample schedule. For example: do this at 9 a.m., do the next step at 5 p.m., shape loaves at 8 a.m. the next morning and bake at noon.

And somehow, with Ken's clear explanations, and timely repetition throughout, even non-techy types like me can get a complete understanding of what's important to get the best-tasting bread, and how to actually put this into play.

He seems always to be anticipating questions or situations the reader might run into, and provides answers or solutions. It's almost as if he's at your shoulder giving advice just when you need it -- like the best teacher you could have right next to you in your kitchen. Examples: throughout he stresses the importance of dough temperature and how to check it. But what if " the dough isn't at the target temperature?" Or what if something comes up while your dough is rising and you need to leave, so won't be home to do the next step? Or how about dough that never seems to rise? Ken has the answer and a great " don't panic, it happens to all bakers" spirit.

And I haven't even mentioned what a good read it is. I can't recommend this book strongly enough!
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