The title of this cookbook embodies the simplicity that is baking bread. There are only four key ingredients: flour, water, yeast, and salt. What the book's title doesn't tell you however is that you also need time, passion and determination to create the crusty, flavorful bread at home that you'll happily shell out $6 or $7 a loaf for at an artisan bakery. Ken Forkish of Ken's Artisan Bread and Ken's Artisan Pizza, both located in Portland, knows these things. The former corporate suit left Silicon Valley behind to pursue his passion for baking. And now, with Flour Water Yeast Salt, Forkish has translated the craft of baking bread and pizza for the home cook.
Part one of this cookbook is as much a memoir as it is an introduction to the recipes and instruction that follow. Forkish, like many bakers, is fueled by an attention to detail bordering on the obsessive. Not that there's anything wrong with that--we all benefit from the passion these craftsmen and women put into their work. In Flour Water Yeast Salt, Forkish's enthusiasm leaps from the page. He can't wait for you to start mixing, kneading, proofing, and baking at home. Part one continues with tips on equipment, and introductions to terms and techniques such as using ferments (levains and bigas), handling dough gently, understanding baker's percentages, and weighing ingredients versus measuring them by volume.
In parts two, three, and four, Forkish includes recipes for basic breads, levain breads and pizzas. There's an accessibility in this book that isn't found in many of the other bread-centric cookbooks. Photos throughout show methods for kneading, rising, shaping, and baking loaves and pizzas into various shapes and sizes. And there are recipes for weeknight breads and pizzas as well as weekend-long baking projects, making the recipes easy to tackle for most home cooks. There are three essays in the book as well, giving a glimpse into how wheat is grown and harvested, the inner workings of a bakery, and how to take what you've learned in this book to make a bread (or pizza) to call your own.