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Flour Water Salt Yeast

The Fundamentals of Artisan Bread and Pizza

By Ken Forkish
16-minute read
Audio available
Flour Water Salt Yeast by Ken Forkish

Flour Water Salt Yeast (2012) by Ken Forkish is a guide to the principles underlying high-quality baking, that you can apply to your own baking at home. By learning the fundamentals and developing a good technique, you can master the art of home baking and develop your own individual baking style.

  • Experienced home bakers looking to up their game
  • Baking novices who don’t know where to start
  • Anyone looking to develop an exciting new skill.

Ken Forkish left the tech world behind after a 20-year career to retrain as a baker, and he now runs Ken’s Artisan Bakery, as well as Ken’s Artisan Pizza, in Portland, Oregon. Flour Water Salt Yeast was his award-winning first book, and he has since written The Elements of Pizza.

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Flour Water Salt Yeast

The Fundamentals of Artisan Bread and Pizza

By Ken Forkish
  • Read in 16 minutes
  • Audio & text available
  • Contains 10 key ideas
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Flour Water Salt Yeast by Ken Forkish
Synopsis

Flour Water Salt Yeast (2012) by Ken Forkish is a guide to the principles underlying high-quality baking, that you can apply to your own baking at home. By learning the fundamentals and developing a good technique, you can master the art of home baking and develop your own individual baking style.

Key idea 1 of 10

Becoming a baker

Almost everyone with a busy business career has dreamed of packing it in and starting over. A new life as a baker sounds particularly idyllic – making artisanal bread, serving your friendly neighborhood community, starting work at 3.30 each morning to tend to your yeast culture…

Wait, what?

Ken Forkish, the author, is not your average career changer. After 20 years in the tech business, he decided to retrain as a baker, and he now runs Ken’s Artisan Bakery in Portland. But despite having traded in his suit and tie, his new line of work is still seriously hard work.

Especially if you’re a perfectionist like Forkish, baking can be super demanding. For a professional bakery, where things need to be ready for the early morning rush, that means some seriously early starts.

You’ll be relieved to learn that it’s possible to create great-quality bread at home – to a far more normal-sounding schedule. A little perfectionism still goes a long way, though.

The key message here is: After a career change, Ken Forkish became a brilliant baker, thanks to his obsessive, detail-focused drive.

Back in 1995, Forkish was working in tech, and had barely baked a loaf in his life. But something about a magazine article he read sparked his imagination. It was about a famous Parisian baker, Lionel Poilâne, who had spurned modern technology and returned to the subtle craft of traditional bread making.

Before he knew it, Forkish had joined the Bread Bakers Guild of America and enrolled in a course at the San Francisco Baking Institute. He also studied with numerous other experienced pros, so that he could emulate the greatest and most traditional boulangeries in France.

He found his perfect location in Portland, Oregon, a town with a great food scene that he thought would welcome his ambitious, artisanal plans.

He was right, and Ken’s Artisan Bakery is still going strong. In fact, it’s now expanded – Forkish runs a pizza place as well.

One reason for Forkish’s success is his passionate, even obsessive focus on detail. Thankfully, you don’t have to adopt his punishing schedule to make great bread at home. However, you do need to do a lot more than follow a recipe – you need to understand the principles. And that’s what we’ll look at now.

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