Flour Water Salt Yeast is a book about baking. The author wants to address the techniques used in a good artisan bakery and how they could be adopted for home kitchen. This book is supposed to be read by my wife but she did not have to time to read it yet. So I decided to read it for her first and see if it is worth her time.
Ken Forkish was working in the high-tech industry before becoming a baker. He is the owner of Ken’s Artisan Bakery and Ken’s Artisan Pizza.
Flour Water Salt Yeast contains an introduction, 14 chapters which are divided into 4 parts, and a Lagniappe (Oregon Hazelnut Butter Cookies).
Part 1 is The Principles of Artisan Bread. The 3 chapters here are The Backstory, Eight Details for Great Bread and Pizza, and Equipment and Ingredients. It ends with an essay: Where Does Our Flour Come From?
Part 2 is Basic Bread Recipes and contains 3 chapters. They are Basic Bread Method, Straight Doughs, and Doughs Made with Pre-Ferments. This part also ends with an essay: The Early Morning Bread Baker’s Routine.
Part 3 is Levain Bread Recipes. There are 5 chapters in this part. These are Understanding Levain, Levain Method, Hybrid Leavening Doughs, Pure Levain Doughs, and Advanced Levain Doughs. It contains 2 essays: The 3-Kilo Boule, and Making a Bread (or Pizza) Dough You Can Call Your Own.
Part 4 is Pizza Recipes. The 3 chapters are Pizza and Focaccia Method, Pizza Doughs, and Pizza and Focaccia.
Flour Water Salt Yeast contains dozens of recipes for bread and pizza. All the bread and pizza doughs call for 1,000 grams of flour and have only slightly different quantities of water and salt.
As my wife is interested in making bread, so I focus on the bread part of this book. The author uses Dutch oven to bake bread, which is a new thing to me. Chapter 4 is a must-read as it is about the techniques used throughout the book. I will share some of the lessons that I learn from this book about baking bread.
To get the best results for dough fermentation requires the perfect balance of rising time, proofing time, dough temperature, ambient temperature, and amount of leavening in the dough. The temperature of a freshly mixed dough should be between 24-27oC. The author recommends to read the temperature with a probe thermometer.
Getting the ideal crust depends on full fermentation, proper oven temperature, the proper amount of steam, and not pulling the bread out of the oven too soon. The steam is the reason for using Dutch oven.
3 grams of fresh yeast equals to 1 gram of instant yeast. Do you know that commercial yeast dies at temperature at and above 46oC? I do not know this fact before reading this book.
We should avoid using iodised salt in the dough because iodine inhibits fermentation. The author recommends fine sea salt because it will dissolve quickly in the dough. All-purpose flour is ideal for all the recipes in this book. The author recommends flour with 11 – 12% protein.
The recipes in this book require time but not much effort to achieve a really good loaf. It takes a little over 7 hours for the simplest recipes in the book, but it does not involve continuous work.
As the author is based in United States, the ambient temperature are different from Malaysia and this might affect the fermentation or preparation time. For example, poolish (one type of pre-ferments) may only be at its peak for 1 hour in Malaysia, instead of 2 hours in the author’s home.
The author explains the steps in detail but I feel some steps still need demonstration to be clear. But I believe that it would be quite easy to find them online.
This book is written for both novices and experienced bakers. The author also encourages the readers to experiment with the recipes. So, will this book be a good use of my wife’s time? I think so.
- The best breads are those with methods that allow plenty of time for flavour to develop.
Interested in Flour Water Salt Yeast?
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