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Flour Water Salt Yeast - Ken Forkish

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  • Flour Water Salt Yeast - Ken Forkish

    Flour Water Salt Yeast: The Fundamentals of Artisan Bread and Pizza: Ken Forkish: 9781607742739: Amazon.com: Books

    I recently checked out this book from the library, looks like it is about a year old, but I haven't seen any discussion of it on here.

    I have followed Peter Reinhart's Artisan Breads Every Day with mostly positive results, good oven spring if I correctly time the proofing stage. The main downside is I never got a crackly crust. His method of pouring water into a preheated pan was always kludge-y, never really generated enough steam, and frankly a little dangerous.

    Forkish's method are very similar to Reinhart's; high hydration, low yeast seeding, long cool bulk fermentation, divide, proof, and bake at high temperature. The primary difference is the way he generates steam, which is similar to Jim Lahey's No Knead Bread. Put an empty Dutch Oven (I have a ceramic Emile Henry model) in for 45 mins at 475 to preheat. Put the cold dough in and bake with the lid on for 30 mins, then remove the lid and bake another 20 mins.

    I'll tell you what; this has been the most consistently excellent bread I've ever made. Huge oven rise, even with 40% whole wheat flour, open crumb and the crackliest crust I've gotten outside the local bakery.

    Also he bypasses the slash-and-score by baking upside down, so the seam you made when forming the boule naturally opens as it bakes. Why didn't I think of that?

    I've only done this in my kitchen electric oven; I don't have confidence in being able to set and maintain exactly 475 for 50 minutes in the WFO. Frankly I'm not sure there would be much benefit, unless you could get a bit of smoke flavor from the oven walls.

    For those of you struggling with steam generation for hearth breads, do yourself a favor and cook this book.
    Last edited by TylerDavis; 12-31-2013, 03:44 PM.

  • #2
    Re: Flour Water Salt Yeast - Ken Forkish

    That could be a good book ...I don't know. I just did the "Look Inside" feature of that book and I see that he mixes grams, and cups in his formulas. That would make me nutzzzz.

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    • #3
      Re: Flour Water Salt Yeast - Ken Forkish

      He lists both weight and volume on separate columns for each recipe

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      • #4
        Re: Flour Water Salt Yeast - Ken Forkish

        So he does not mix weights and measures??? The one recipe listed in the "Look inside" had ---grams, 2 eggs, 1/2 cup--- so the rest of the book is not like that?

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        • #5
          Re: Flour Water Salt Yeast - Ken Forkish

          oh, I see the recipe you're referring to: Oregon Hazelnut Butter Cookies. You're right that he mixes weight and volume in that one. To be honest, I never read that far, I only care about bread. All his bread recipes have both weight and volume columns in the table. He is adamant in the front matter about using a digital scale.

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          • #6
            Re: Flour Water Salt Yeast - Ken Forkish

            Ken also has a website with videos showing all the techniques he uses in the book:

            Ken's Artisan

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            • #7
              Re: Flour Water Salt Yeast - Ken Forkish

              I am waiting for his book to arrive from back order, but I have been to his website. I'm surprised he hasn't come out with a wood fired book seeing as he has what looks to be one in his dining room? in the videos. Also, he has a wood fired pizzeria.

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              • #8
                Re: Flour Water Salt Yeast - Ken Forkish

                I saw the WFO in his dining room - looks impressive! Also his pizzeria is a spin-off by an employee/apprentice; I don't know if the main bakery is a WFO or conventional oven.

                The book is written for an audience of home bakers, most of whom don't have a WFO. Building a WFO would be a significant expense if the main objective is to bake bread for your family. Those of us on the FB forum with WFOs have devised a lot of methods of generating/trapping steam. Baking a single loaf in a preheated dutch oven traps 100% of the steam and develops an excellent crackly crust.

                To the extent that these things are measurable, I wonder how much marginal improvement is gained by switching from a dutch oven emulating a hearth to a full WFO?

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                • #9
                  Re: Flour Water Salt Yeast - Ken Forkish

                  I have this book and find it quite informative.

                  The main problem I see with the Dutch oven method is that you can't make baguettes - only round loaves. I find that a bit too limiting as I find the shape of the baguette lends itself to greater versatility in serving the bread.
                  / Rossco

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                  • #10
                    Re: Flour Water Salt Yeast - Ken Forkish

                    True, the dutch oven only makes boules. I generally cut it into quarters then slice from there.

                    While pondering your question I thought of a way to emulate this method with a baguette form. What if you took a square-cross-section flue liner and sliced it open like a clamshell? Superior Clay Flue Liners
                    The 4"x8" would be about right for a baguette. Should trap the steam all along the length of the baguette, though not at the ends.

                    What method do you use to generate/trap steam in your oven when baking baguettes?

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                    • #11
                      Re: Flour Water Salt Yeast - Ken Forkish

                      Or I could just buy one of these:
                      La Cloche Clay Baker - Oblong
                      Only 13" long internal but the same general idea

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                      • #12
                        Re: Flour Water Salt Yeast - Ken Forkish

                        Not sure if the flu arrangement would work - may be worth a try.

                        I have had a further read of Forkish's book and there are definitely some great tips on preparation and techniques for the home baker. That being said, I'm not sure why he insists on only going down the Dutch oven path when with a little effort it is possible to make a pretty good baguette, rolls, plaited breads, tiger bread and even Pain D'epi. So much more variety.

                        I proof with boiling water in a pan at the bottom of the oven. When baking, I put the oven on maximum, switch off for 3 min rise, down to 230 C for the baking process. This is detailed in my other post on tiger bread.
                        / Rossco

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                        • #13
                          Re: Flour Water Salt Yeast - Ken Forkish

                          Originally posted by TylerDavis View Post
                          Or I could just buy one of these:
                          La Cloche Clay Baker - Oblong
                          Only 13" long internal but the same general idea
                          Yes you could, but I like the uneveness of rustic, artisan bread so don't mind if its slightly out of shape. It is certainly possible to bake bread in the oven - to the size and shape you want. Sometimes I make 3 mini baguettes - one for each person to eat. It's all about experimenting and the limitation provided by a container somehow negates this "blank canvass" concept.
                          / Rossco

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                          • #14
                            Re: Flour Water Salt Yeast - Ken Forkish

                            I think there are plenty of authors that recommend the dutch oven method. I find it very useful when I want to cook one or two loaves. The only way I have found to get enough steam in the WFO is by cooking a LOT of bread at once. Ten pounds of dough puts off a lot of steam! Even at that, I still find it tough to get the crust as crisp as I would like

                            Next time I am in Portland, I plan to stop by that bakery.
                            My build progress
                            My WFO Journal on Facebook
                            My dome spreadsheet calculator

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                            • #15
                              Re: Flour Water Salt Yeast - Ken Forkish

                              So true or you need a steam injection system :-)

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