Flour Water Salt Yeast

The Fundamentals of Artisan Bread and Pizza [A Cookbook]


Award WinnerBestseller

September 18, 2012 | ISBN 9781607742739

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Award WinnerBestseller

September 18, 2012 | ISBN 9781607742746

AmazonApple BooksBarnes & NobleBooks A MillionGoogle Play StoreKobo

About the Book

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • From Portland’s most acclaimed and beloved baker comes this must-have baking guide, featuring recipes for world-class breads and pizzas and a variety of schedules suited for the home baker.

There are few things more satisfying than biting into a freshly made, crispy-on-the-outside, soft-and-supple-on-the-inside slice of perfectly baked bread. For Portland-based baker Ken Forkish, well-made bread is more than just a pleasure—it is a passion that has led him to create some of the best and most critically lauded breads and pizzas in the country.

In Flour Water Salt Yeast, Forkish translates his obsessively honed craft into scores of recipes for rustic boules and Neapolitan-style pizzas, all suited for the home baker. Forkish developed and tested all of the recipes in his home oven, and his impeccable formulas and clear instructions result in top-quality artisan breads and pizzas that stand up against those sold in the best bakeries anywhere.

Whether you’re a total beginner or a serious baker, Flour Water Salt Yeast has a recipe that suits your skill level and time constraints: Start with a straight dough and have fresh bread ready by supper time, or explore pre-ferments with a bread that uses biga or poolish. If you’re ready to take your baking to the next level, follow Forkish’s step-by-step guide to making a levain starter with only flour and water, and be amazed by the delicious complexity of your naturally leavened bread. Pizza lovers can experiment with a variety of doughs and sauces to create the perfect pie using either a pizza stone or a cast-iron skillet.

Flour Water Salt Yeast is more than just a collection of recipes for amazing bread and pizza—it offers a complete baking education, with a thorough yet accessible explanation of the tools and techniques that set artisan bread apart. Featuring a tutorial on baker’s percentages, advice for manipulating ingredients ratios to create custom doughs, tips for adapting bread baking schedules to fit your day-to-day life, and an entire chapter that demystifies the levain-making process, Flour Water Salt Yeast is an indispensable resource for bakers who want to make their daily bread exceptional bread.
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Praise for Flour Water Salt Yeast

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 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.”
—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

"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
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Flour Water Salt Yeast


It’s been five hundred years since I opened Ken’s Artisan Bakery in Portland, Oregon. That’s in bakery years, of course. My bakery actually opened in 2001. I had recently left a nearly twenty-year corporate career for the freedom of running my own venture and doing something I loved. In the time leading up to this risky transition, before I knew what that venture would be, I yearned for a craft and wanted to make a living doing something I could truly call my own. But I was itchy and I didn’t know where to scratch! For many years, I waited for that lightbulb moment of awareness that would signal an open path worth taking. Then, in the mid-1990s, my best friend gave me a magazine featuring the famed Parisian baker Lionel Poilâne. That article gave me the inspiration I was looking for. Not long after that, I began making frequent trips to Paris, and I was deeply inspired by the authentic, tradition-bound boulangeries I visited there. After a few years and a series of evolving ideas, I ended up with a perhaps naive plan to open a French bakery somewhere in the United States. My hope was to re-create the style and quality of the best breads, brioches, croissants, cannelés, and other specialties found at boulangeries and patisseries all over France.

My ensuing career transition was more Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride than simple job change. You could say I answered the call of that ancient Chinese curse: “May you live in interesting times.” But I came out on the other side with a firm love of the baker’s craft, acknowledging it as much more hard work than romance. The daily rhythms of life as a professional baker, once nearly overwhelming, now provide comfort. The aromas, the tactile nature of the work, and the way the finished products look takes me to a faraway place that is still present, and to have that be the way I spend my days continues to thrill me.

About This Book

I was fortunate to train with many excellent bakers in the United States plus two in France during the two-year between-careers period before I opened my own bakeshop in Portland. What struck me during my professional baking training was that the most important lessons I was learning—how to use long fermentation, pre-ferments, autolyse, and temperature management, for example—were not discussed in any of the bread books I had read. I later encountered books that did detail these things (like those by Raymond Calvel and Michel Suas), but they were targeted to the professional. I was sure that the techniques I had learned could apply to the home baker too.

In the years that followed the opening of Ken’s Artisan Bakery, several notable baking books were published. But I still saw an opportunity to address the techniques used in a good artisan bakery and how they could be adopted for the home kitchen. I wanted to write a book that didn’t totally dumb down these techniques, since the concepts really aren’t that difficult for the nonprofessional baker to apply. And I wanted to break from the mold prevalent in almost every bread book out there (at least until very recently): that every recipe had to use a rise time of just one to two hours. Further, I was completely motivated to demonstrate how good bread can be when it’s made from just the four principle ingredients: flour, water, salt, and yeast.

I also saw the opportunity to address how to make great bread at home with each of the three principle techniques of dough fermentation: straight doughs, doughs made with pre-ferments, and levain doughs, including an easy, unintimidating method for making a levain culture from scratch in just five days using only whole grain flour and water.

In order to accurately use this book’s recipes and follow its logic, I ask you to use an inexpensive digital kitchen scale to execute the recipes and to help you understand baking. One of the fundamentals of artisan baking is using weight measurements instead of cups and tablespoons and being guided by the ratios of ingredients. (Don’t worry, I do all the simple math for you.) While the ingredients tables in each recipe do include volume conversions, these measurements are by their nature imprecise (for reasons explained in chapter 2) and they are included only to allow you to bake from this book while you are contemplating which digital kitchen scale to buy.

My purpose in writing this book is twofold: First, I want to entice novices to bake, so it is written for a broad audience. Total beginners can dive right in with one of the entry-level recipes, the Saturday Breads, for example, right after reading chapter 4, Basic Bread Method. Once you feel comfortable with the timing and techniques involved in those breads, try recipes that involve an extra step, like mixing a poolish the night before. Once you have mastered the poolish and biga recipes, try making a levain from scratch and enjoy the particular pleasures of bread or pizza dough made with this culture. By the time you work your way through this book, you will be baking bread in your home kitchen that has a quality level approaching that of the best bakeries anywhere, along with Neapolitan-style pizza that would make your nonna smile.

Second, this book is also written for more experienced bakers who are looking for another approach to making dough—one that treats time and temperature as ingredients—and who are perhaps looking for an accessible (or just different) method for making great-tasting levain breads. Mixing dough by hand, a process used in all this book’s recipes, may also be new. To me, one of the most unique and important aspects of bread baking is its tactile nature. In asking you to mix the dough by hand, I am also asking you to think of your hand as an implement. Mixing by hand is easier than using a mixer, is fully effective, and teaches you the feel of the dough. People have been mixing dough by hand for thousands of years. If our ancestors did it, we can. And if you haven’t done it before, I hope you get great satisfaction from the process and feel a connection to the past and the history of baking, like I do

About the Author

Ken Forkish
Ken Forkish is the founder of Ken’s Artisan Pizza and Ken’s Artisan Bakery. He is the bestselling author of Evolutions in Bread and Flour Water Salt Yeast, which won both a James Beard and IACP award, and The Elements of Pizza. More by Ken Forkish
Decorative Carat