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Flour Water Salt Yeast: The Fundamentals of Artisan Bread and Pizza Hardcover – September 18, 2012
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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.”
"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 cookbook Water 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.”
"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
"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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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. An advantage to wet doughs (among other things like quality), is that you can most easily feel changes in the dough as you work it, teaching you to make bread by feel, and really KNOW when things are ready. The basic recipe is varied with different flours, bigas or poolishes, and finally making and using a sourdough culture. The variations one learns of a recipe are incredible in terms of taste and texture, when the main variables are time and temp.
This book is a fantastic stepping stone for more varied texts (Bread Bible, Bread Baker's Apprentice, and the all but sacred bread text "The Taste of Bread" by Raymond Calvel). If you are looking to learn the basic knowledge needed to make truly magnificent bread in your home, this is the book to start with. If you are a more advanced baker, but still need to solidify the basics covered in this text, you will find that material familiar but new at the same time, and will get more than your money's worth.
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. The book, because of his structure, works exclusively in those pots, but he tells you how to adjust his system if you wanted to take a batch of dough meant for two loaves and turn it into one massive miche.
There's also an excellent pizza making section, with sauce recipes, pizza tossing instructions, plus pan pizza recipes. He ends with a Lagniappe of some hazelnut butter cookies, but I have to admit, I was really hoping he'd share a baguette recipe since he'd referenced them so often in his own story.
All in all, a superb book that adds a lot of depth to the genre.